Last Word – The Pandemic Pivot and the Trenchless Rehab Market for 2021
In this article, Jacobs offers the reflections and outlook perspectives from our condition assessment and rehabilitation practice. Our technology organization is based on communities of practice.
With more than 400 team members across the globe, collaboration occurs daily through posting on internal discussion forums, participating in learning and development workshops and with teleconferencing tools — all of which have seen a significant uptick in use since the start of the pandemic.
We’re delighted to share the opinions from four of our North America leaders on the key topics they’re addressing related to trenchless condition assessment and rehabilitation.
North America Pivot
Daniel Buonadonna, Global Technology Leader, Condition Assessment & Rehabilitation Services
Aging infrastructure has been a driving market force for the trenchless industry for decades. It has been ranked the top priority year after year for many utilities across the continent and has incentivized a bevy of innovations and new technologies aimed at condition assessment of critical water/sewer infrastructure and non-invasive trenchless renewal. Because of the essential nature of this work, many of the projects for assessing and rehabilitating aging infrastructure continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and many in the industry were able to adopt safe worksite practices to manage the spread of the virus. This is not to say, however, that our marketplace for field services and rehabilitation construction has gone unaffected from the pandemic, nor that the momentum of major market disruptors like artificial intelligence for condition assessment has slowed in the past year. Long-term after-effects may yet still be on the horizon as conventional workplace and professional interaction norms have changed.
Marya Jetten, Regional Technology Lead, Canada
ccording to the 2019 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (CIRC), the state of Canada’s infrastructure is at risk and will require significant attention in the coming decades. CIRC has identified that at least 27 percent of potable water and wastewater linear infrastructure is in very poor to fair condition and 6 to 15 percent is in unknown condition. Stormwater pipelines are comparatively new and have been a low priority for inspection in the past, so there is a growing need for understanding their condition in the near future. While some of the older cities in Canada have been using pipeline condition assessment and rehabilitation for decades for their aging infrastructure, newer and smaller municipalities are beginning their inspection programs to proactively manage their assets. With the more recent improvements in technology and overall comfort level in the technology, we are seeing a large increase in demand for condition assessment, prioritization and asset management and rehabilitation programs in cities and towns of all sizes. Although condition assessment and rehabilitation may be new to some municipalities, and some consulting engineers, the veteran users are successfully pushing the boundaries for rehabilitation projects completed in Canada with rehabilitation of larger and longer pipelines, in more complex areas and piloting new (to Canada) technologies. As well as piqued interest in alternative delivery for technically complex solutions.
Southern U.S. Outlook
Jerome Griffin, Global Technology Leader, Corrosion Control
key market driver for our practitioners in the southern region of the United States within Jacobs is understanding risks of failure for our clients’ buried wastewater collection and water distribution infrastructure. Jacobs use a tiered approach for condition assessment with multiple tiers that are applied to pipe segments identified as having a higher risk of failure. Many of our clients within the southern region use this tiered approach information to help decide between repair, renewal, often via trenchless rehabilitation methods, or replacement. The pandemic has limited travel in some instances to perform actual field assessments, but desktop data review has been very beneficial in short of onsite visits for trenchless rehabilitation planning efforts. The industry outlook seems bright within the trenchless rehabilitation area in relation to corrosion control mitigation efforts requiring minimal to no excavation to address concerns on various facilities and structures.
Future Outlook – Young Professional Networking
Annalee Collins, Deputy Regional Technology Lead, US West
For Jacobs retaining and recruiting top talent is always a priority. COVID-19 threw the proverbial wrench into the Young Professional collaboration plans for 2020. While we originally had our eyes set on quarterly social meet ups, including casual happy hours, volunteering at trenchless educational events, and the more obscure axe-throwing, the current events of this year forced us to re-evaluate what staying connected looks like in 2020. Luckily, it seems as though the young professionals have adapted as seamlessly as possible during these unprecedented times. We have successfully held virtual get-togethers, and while they weren’t quite the same as congregating with colleagues in person, it was still refreshing to see one another “face to face.” From our perspective the market has remained strong through 2020 and looks promising as we head into the new year, even under the veil of the pandemic. Regardless, we continue to monitor the market conditions and the ability of our clients to invest in their aging infrastructure and give young professionals plenty of opportunities to learn more about project management and new inspection and rehabilitation technologies.