Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

Robot at the cutting edge of health and safety

Printer-friendly version

Hydro demolition robot ‘Geo’ is providing faster, safer results for SCIRT’s McConnell Dowell team working on the Southern Relief project in Linwood.

The thought of repairing underground pipe cracks with a hand held lance, in a confined space, is enough to make any health and safety officer concerned and a crew member’s blood pressure rise. This is the challenge that McConnell Dowell and subcontractor Concrete Treatments NZ (CTNZ) faced when repairing the Southern Relief, a wastewater trunk main that was significantly damaged in the earthquakes.

The trunk main is a 1.2m x 1.4m box culvert that takes wastewater from more than 200,000 households around Christchurch and moves it to the Bromley wastewater treatment plant.

'Geo' being lowered into the Southern Relief to start work


Project Engineer Stuart Anderson says, “Using the water pressure at the flow rate required to carry out the repairs combined with the length of lance would pose a serious risk to the operator’s safety.

“The solution was CTNZ’s purchase of the automated robotic hydro excavation tool. ‘Geo’ has the ability to use the tool remotely, replacing hand held lancing. The robots compact nature allows it to enter and repair the box culvert safely and efficiently.

“Geo’s hydraulic and articulated arm can reach as far as three metres into horizontal, vertical and overhead areas and its use has enabled a safer working environment for the crew. It means that crew members aren’t placed in an unsafe position to deal with flying concrete debris in a restricted space.”

Parts of the essential pipe repairs require ‘Geo’ to complete crack injections to individual defects along almost 2km of the culvert.

‘Geo’ is currently conducting pipe crack repairs on Worcester Street and is due to complete them in early April.

'Geo' hard at work scabbling in the Southern Relief trunk main


The robot is the only one currently available in the Southern Hemisphere and has the potential to undertake a wide variety of repair jobs after its work on the Southern Relief.

Late last year McConnell Dowell won the Bill Perry Safety Award for their use of ‘Geo’ in the Southern Relief project. The award recognises SCIRT teams that continually raise the bar of safety and safety awareness.



Published: 22 February 2016