It may not seem it, but it was only just over one year ago that Finland-based Picote launched its new Smart Cutter lateral cutter onto the international pipeline renovation market. Yet in barely 15 months the system has become a global product, aiding pipe renovation projects on almost all continents of the world.
Given this state of affairs, it is easy to see why the 2012/13 year has been somewhat hectic for the Picote team and not just in terms of the Smart Cutter as we will see later.
The Smart Cutter product also achieved international recognition at the 2012 International No-Dig event in São Paulo, Brazil, where it was awarded the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT) Product of the Year Award for 2012. The product also achieved a Highly Commended status at the recent UKSTT Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony in Birmingham, United Kingdom, in the Innovation Category.
Since the Smart Cutter’s international launch in May 2012, Picote has attended and been represented at several international and national events in various locations. One of these was the Pumper & Cleaner Expo in the United States. After a hugely successful show with popular daily demonstrations, LMK Technologies became a North American reseller for Picote products.
Commenting on the new partnership, Larry Kiest, President, CTO and Founder of LMK, “The addition of the Picote line of cutters and tools is the perfect complement to LMK’s line of engineered pipe renovation products and proprietary installation equipment. These cutters will allow contractors to offer more solutions, saving contractors significant time and therefore reducing costs in lining operations for drain pipes and service lateral pipes.”
In the United Kingdom, in addition to the Brawoliner distributor CJ Kelly Associates, Picote has recently closed a reseller agreement with ER Systems. Commenting on the new U.K. arrangement Ian Roper, managing director of ER Systems, said: “At ER Systems we offer the best quality equipment in the drainage industry and are delighted to be working with Picote to extend the usage of the cutter into the British market. The versatility, ease of use, and quality of product make this an advance in quality of service for the end user. We are happy to demonstrate the down the branch cutter to anyone, through our depot network.”
Further to this, Picote has also been busy in the southern hemisphere, with a distributor agreement having been signed with the well-known Australian company Inline Tool Solutions. As part of the introduction of Picote to Australasia, Katja Lindy-Wilkinson, managing director of Picote U.K. Ltd, will be presenting a paper titled “Renovating Small Diameter Drains Inside Buildings in Finland: Challenging European and International Practices” at the International No-Dig Down Under 2013 in Sydney, Australia, Sept. 1-4.
THE SMART CUTTER SYSTEM
To re-cap for those less familiar with the system, the Smart Cuttersystem is a manually operated cutting/grinding device. Powered using millingmachines manufactured by Picote or simply by utilizing a correctly set up handdrill, the cutting/grinding head of the system is easy to configure to the pipediameter in question. The correct Smart Cutter hubis selected by determining the pipe diameter and the number and angle of bendsin the pipe. Side grinding panels are loaded into slots in the hub; these arethen held in position with initially the front facing cutter that will make thecut through the liner. The cutter assembly is then inserted into the customerside of the lateral being reopened and extended into the lateral to the lineritself.
Power is thenapplied rotating the cutter/grinder hub, which is pushed against the linermaterial to commence the ‘cut.’ A range of cutter heads has been designed tocut various liner materials quickly and easily without damage to any part ofthe liner in the host pipe. Once through the liner wall, the grinding panels come intoplay and the rotating panels grind away the remainder of the liner covering thelateral connection back to the original pipe material. Thewhole process to reopen a connection takes typically five to 10 minutes.
Incircumstances where there has been a build-up of resin in the lateral as theliner installation and cure took place, the Smart Cutter can be reversed bychanging the direction that the grinder panels face, and weighted or steered toensure clean and full reopening of the lateral even where excess resin isencountered.
The SmartCutter is now applicable to lateral pipes of DN 30 to DN 200 and developmentsfor larger diameters continue.
BernieTessier, president of New England Pipe Restoration said of the system: “Ipurchased three kits from Picote and we used the Smart Cutter at threedifferent jobs so to date. All commercial property, we cut out 16connections ranging from 3 in to 5 in. We are very happy with the cutter,it is easy, fast and the end result gets the connecting pipe to its fullopening. In the past, we have used three other cutters over the past sixyears and the prices ranged from US$60,000 to US$85,000 and none of thesecutters can compare to the Smart Cutter. None of the other cutters can getthe cutting pipe opening to its full size. On as side note, one of mycompetitors has two other cutters for reinstatement and contacted me toreinstate a line for him, because his cutters cannot get the job done, we wentto the job and cut it out in 15 minutes with a full opening.”
While work has been ceaseless in getting the standard Smart Cutter system to the global markets, back at the Picote Innovation Centre in Finland the development team headed by System developer and CEO of Picote Oy Ltd, Mika Lokkinen has not been idle.
Several new additions have been devised for the cutter system to answer question posed by different pipe materials and other potential applications.
The first of the developments is the Twister cutting head that initiates the opening of the lined lateral connection. This is a new type of cutting head specially designed for applications in plastic pipe, although it also works in other pipe types. The Twister can reopen linings in plastic pipe without damage to the host pipe, with the brushes of the new cutter ensuring that the cutter-head remains centralized in the lateral pipe during the opening operation. The system offers a low start-up cost with minimal maintenance and training requirements. The Twister is currently available for pipes of 150 mm and 100 mm and for T or Y connections, with 70 mm and 50 mm versions currently in testing. Development continues on units to operate in pipe diameters up to 400 mm. The low cost of the new addition to the range comes with the fact it operates off the same drive system as the Smart Cutter so no additional power source or drive is required, and has become an integral part of the Smart Cutter™ operation.
According to Mika Lokkinen: “We believe that the Twister will revolutionize the trenchless small diameter drain renovation market, especially when used in conjunction with our Smart Cutter, which finishes the job off once the opening has been completed to achieve a superior finish. It is one of many new problem-solving products that will allow contractors to branch out into new markets, including our own CIPP lining installation teams in Finland.”
In an extension to the basic application of the Smart Cutter, that of reopening liner laterals, Picote is also now in development on a new version of the cutter that will be targeted at the difficult area of collapsed liner removal. The new system is aimed at making this rare but problematic situation easily surmountable for contractors, with one relatively small and inexpensive piece of kit. In part the new system utilizes the Twister with a bespoke cutting head. This exciting new development has been tested in Finland and will be available for sale by the end of 2013.
As part of the product range expansion, Picote has also extended its range of Miller Machines. In addition to the Micro, Mini and Midi Millers, the company is introducing the new Maxi Miller to the market in the autumn, which will have a range of 20 m. There are also plans to add a Mega system with a range of 40 m by early 2014.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Picote has recently launched its newly revamped website (www.picotsolutions.com), which contains product information, printable resources, demonstration videos of the systems in action, and links to both central contacts and local distributors.
Looking back over the past year Katja Lindy-Wilkinson commented: “As a contractor in Finland ourselves, when we launched the Smart Cutter, we knew we had a product that the industry had been looking for. The Pumper Show in the United States proved highly productive not just in getting the Smart Cutter known in North America, where it caused considerable excitement amongst visitors, attracting both fellow installers and big name company representatives to our booth. This just reinforced our belief in our products. We were inundated with potential buyers who were impressed by the package as a whole, which would allow them to complete difficult reopening projects without the need to ‘Jerry Rig’ a system for each and every eventuality as is often the case. The fact that our packages are not only cost-effective but also highly customizable to individual needs was also a strong selling point. We are looking forward to exhibiting at the Pumper Show next time, taking our latest developments with us and meeting again with our customers.”
This article was submitted by PICOTE OY Ltd., Porvoo, Finland.