In the constantly evolving world of trenchless technology, adapting to the latest trends and recognizing new opportunities are key to meeting market demand. Such was the case in the late 1990s when the founders of Reline America recognized the potential of an emerging market overseas – ultraviolet (UV)-cured CIPP.
Reline America, whose management and manufacturing are headquartered in southwestern Virginia, is the only complete system manufacturer of UV installation equipment and pipe liners in the western hemisphere. Reline America manufactures UV CIPP liners from 6 to 60 in. in diameter, along with associated installation equipment. Reline America’s installation equipment and liners are produced in-house to customer specification, using state-of-the art technology for optimal field performance.
“Reline America, made in the USA, provides a one-stop shop for complete UV CIPP systems in a synchronized set of liners and installation equipment in order to optimize the curing process,” said Reline America CEO Don Pleasants. “Reline America, at its inception, recognized the complex interaction between the liner and installation equipment, therefore we design and build liners and installation equipment to work in conjunction with every facet of the training, installation, and service provided to installers. This allows us to deliver complete service for both liners and equipment as a package, precluding the need for the customer to interact with liner and equipment companies separately.”
The beginnings of Reline America can be traced to the late 1990s when trenchless veterans Don Pleasants and Mike Burkhard began searching for new rehabilitation technologies that could benefit the North American market. Pleasants was an experienced contractor, while Burkhard has decades of experience in the trenchless industry. Their search brought them to Germany where they met Brandenburger Liner and its spirally wound UV-cured CIPP product.
While the technology itself was ready for use in the United States, the economic conditions weren’t right just yet. Namely, cities were reluctant to pay a premium for UV-cured CIPP over traditional thermal-cured CIPP products.
Over the next few years, as the cost for UV CIPP became more competitive, Reline America decided that the time was right, and in 2005, the company signed a deal with Brandenburger to bring the UV spirally wound pipe lining technology to North America. Reline America set up shop in southwest Virginia with the purchase of a 60,000-sq ft manufacturing facility on 17 acres. This plant houses manufacturing facilities for installation equipment and liner manufacturing, as well as a fully outfitted lab. The first installation mobile unit was built and used for installs by 2007.
One of the first challenges with getting off the ground floor was gaining the acceptance of a new technology by utility owners and consulting engineers. “UV-cured CIPP was virtually unheard of at the time,” said Tim Cook, Reline America’s general manager, who began his association with the firm as Director of Construction for Pleasants Construction, a Reline America installer owned by Don Pleasants. “We were focused on getting the technology known in the industry and how it differs from other lining products. There were a lot of unknowns at the time, and people were reluctant to be the first to try something new.”
Reline America realized that equipment initially imported from Europe lacked robustness for smaller diameters and longer installations that are prevalent in North America. In order to make the process and equipment meet the demands of the market, Reline America began to analyze, design and build new installation equipment, with the primary focus on durable and high-quality equipment.
“All aspects of the technology were analyzed with the understanding that any change, no matter how small, needed to be integrated into the whole design chain,” said Mike Burkhard, whose previous experience in trenchless technology includes the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission as its rehabilitation manager, and NASSCO, where he served as executive director.
“The result,” he adds, “is that the equipment was re-engineered from the inside out, which allowed for enhanced front and rear camera picture with the UV lights on during cure, excellent power retention at the end of the 1000-ft cable, superior insulation values to protect the inner workings of the equipment subjected to heat in the curing process, which eliminated the need for an air conditioning unit on the cable drum system, and more robust motors and drives.”
At the same time, the company analyzed the liner manufacturing process and raw materials, leading to further re-designs that resulted in Reline America becoming an ISO 9001:2015 designated manufacturer.
The re-engineered product, branded as Alphaliner, became the hallmark of Reline America’s business model – Complete System Manufacturing. Reline America puts an emphasis on first class customer service and training provided for both liner installation and equipment operation and maintenance.
An Integral Part of the Team
Installers form a significant aspect of the Reline America system. Reline America designs and develops systems to support the installers who complete the final manufacturing application on job sites in a variety of environmental conditions. In turn, the installers work with Reline America to communicate their specific needs to partner for an efficient and successful installation.
“We recognized that in order for the product to be successful, we needed to align ourselves with the right contractors,” Burkhard said. “We were looking for contractors that were known for their emphasis on customer service.”
Reline America currently has a network of 15 installers across the continent, including one in Mexico and one in Canada. Reline America has installed millions of feet of liners and continues to advance new developments, including the first 2,000-watt platform to use eight bulbs, state-of-the-art touch screen technology, advanced maintenance and curing software, and a real-time satellite communication system from jobsite installation trucks to Reline America’s plant in order to assist the installation as needed. Reline America engineered new liner manufacturing technologies, and built a state of the art training program.
Eye on Quality
Because of its highly trained and knowledgeable staff, Reline America has the capability to design build all aspects of our manufacturing processes from electrical, mechanical, chemical and machine software in-house. This allows us to meet the specific needs of our customers.
As a part of the ISO 9001:2015 Controlled Factory Environment, Reline America’s onsite fully outfitted laboratory is equipped for testing of raw materials, as well as finished goods, in accordance with the ISO process. As part of the ISO process, Reline America visually and machine inspects the raw materials as the liner advances through the various stages of the automated manufacturing process.
An automated liner manufacturing process is included in the ISO 9001:2015 requirements. Trained, in-house quality control auditors, in addition to the required annual external audits, provides data that fosters continued development and improvements, including:
• Resin Slump Control: Unique design characteristics allow Reline America to control resin migration and slump by closely monitoring three aspects of the process: viscosity optimization controls through the various stages of manufacturing and installation; optimizing speed of cure and encapsulating the liner, which maximizes the liner’s homogenous structural finish and protects it from water damage and resin migration during installation and curing; and prevention of noxious odors from migrating into houses while protecting the environment.
- Expansion: Liner expansion characteristics are built into the liner using a patented process. Expansion characteristics up to 8 percent, coupled with low shrink characteristics, keep wrinkling to a minimum and allows for a very tight mechanical fit to the host pipe.
- Structural Integrity: Full composite fiberglass liner designs lead to high structural characteristics in the installed liner.
- Unique Liner Designs: Reline America’s liner manufacturing process and material design platforms were designed to include the capability of developing new or modified liner designs. The company manufactures multiple liners at different structural and corrosion levels.
Reline America is unique in the western hemisphere in that it currently manufactures and tests all installation equipment and liners together in one facility to ensure that they work together harmoniously. This allows Reline America to stay on the cutting edge of technology development to satisfy end-user customers with a one-stop shop for
questions or problem resolution. Reline America has reduced installation equipment maintenance repair incidents with the new design by at least 75%, according to its data.
In addition, Reline America:
- Developed a patented, tow-behind, folding conveyor that greatly decreases installation times on liners larger than 18” diameter, while increasing worker safety.
- Designed and built a 500-ft system mounted on a 2 ton 4-wheel drive truck for mobility for hard-to-reach locations.
- Employs a UV process utilizing video recordings with front and back cameras, starting at light train installation in the uncured liner, continuing during the curing process with an enhanced camera system to allow for clear pictures even while the lights are powered.
- Introduced redundant PLC-driven touch screen curing controls.
- Engineered 1,000-ft installation technology that delivers maximum power to the curing equipment.
- Created proprietary machine software technology that monitors equipment for lamp life as well as extensive curing data and power metrics.
Reline America has a history of successfully completing challenging installations, often going above and beyond typical installations. Among some of the noteworthy projects are:
- A failing pipe under a building 20-ft deep, with ovality as high as 35 percent, was presented to Reline America. Reline America replicated pipe anomalies of the 10 worst areas using a laser profile of these areas downloaded into its CAD system. Reline America then built a foam core duplicating the host pipe inside diameter and shape, it was placed in a sonatube, then filled the void between foam core and sonatube with cement. After hardening, the foam core was removed, creating a cement replica of the 10 worst sections of the host pipe which were then aligned with 10 foot circular control pipes at each end and used to compare the flexural properties to the misshaped pipes. After curing, Reline America removed the liner from the cement to test the strength of misshaped pipe samples, using ASTM D790 to determine the immediate strength of the misshaped liner sections as compared to the control samples. The results were sufficiently strong to withstand the job requirements.
- A municipality required the lining of the twin 24-in. diameter pipes under a major trucking route. Pipes were approximately 400-ft long cast iron with spun cement surface inserted into a steel sleeve. The problem was the host pipe had been exposed to serious hydrogen sulfide and most of the pipe was missing its entire top half above the flowline with the final 80 ft of both lines devoid of all host pipe. Reline successfully installed the liners.
- Reline America designed a product to be used in a dam spillway that leaked so badly the recreational lake was dry. Two weeks after the liner was installed, the lake was back in service.
- Combating high infiltration: Reline America successfully lined a 36-in. perforated, HDPE pipe, with 100 gpm estimated leakage, while leaks were active, discontinuing active leaks. In another project, Reline America lined a 10-in. pipe in a remote location near a dry creek bed. After lining the pipe, the creek came back to full capacity.
There are many other difficult jobs such as working in a railroad right of way, lining under airport runways, and meeting stringent environmental standards.
UV-cured CIPP has gained increasing acceptance in the North American market, and Burkhard sees that trend continuing into the future.
“In the early days, we would see breakthroughs on a municipality by municipality basis,” he said. “Now we are seeing whole regions turning to UV. Additionally, more and more agencies are looking for high-quality solutions, which we are able to provide with our complete systems approach and network of contractors.”