Innovation From Concept to Commercialization

2021 In Review | A Look Back on This Year’s Achievements

ULC Robotics

As the year comes to a close, we’re reflecting on 2021 and some of the great accomplishments our team has made alongside our customers. From award recognition to the introduction of new technologies and services, to returning to in-person shows, this year has certainly kept our team busy!

Check out some highlights from 2021 below:

After delivering over 70 miles (90km) of robotic joint remediation for SGN and Cadent and completing complex network innovation projects in the UK, ULC was named “Company of the Year” at the UK Gas Industry Awards. Additionally, thanks to our partnership with SGN on the Robotic Roadworks & Excavation System (RRES), it was awarded Robotic Business Review’s RBR50 Award as well as the UKSTT’s Innovative Product Award.

In the U.S. and the UK, we recently introduced CISBOT for mechanical joint sealing. Our U.S. teams are continuing to validate our new X-ID cross bore inspection technology alongside gas utility partners National Grid and PG&E, and we introduced additional camera inspection services in the UK.

The Robotic Roadworks & Excavation System (RRES) successfully completed field trials in early 2021 and will be heading to the UK to conduct additional field testing with SGN in the new year. Our R&D teams are hard at work developing a suite of other new technologies in collaboration with current and new partners, which we are excited to announce in 2022.

After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the team returned to in-person tradeshows, attending No Dig Live in the UK, as well as the American Gas Association Conference and the Common Ground Alliance Conference in Orlando, FL.

A big thanks to everyone on our team who has worked tirelessly this past year to help ULC succeed. We’d also like to thank our customers who collaborated with us on both field work and R&D projects.

Looking forward to more success in 2022!

Robotic Cast Iron Mechanical Joint Repair

CISBOT Technology Advances Capabilities to Seal Mechanical

ULC Robotics

Over the past 10 years, internal robotic cast iron joint sealing has transformed the way gas distribution networks manage critical gas infrastructure. After sealing over 100 miles of jute-filled bell and spigot style joints, CISBOT can now deliver the remediation and repair of mechanical gasket-sealed joints.

“Since CISBOT was first deployed in 2010, our team has worked with our utility customers to make continuous developments in order to meet industry needs across the UK and U.S.,” says Ryan McGowan, VP of Operations at ULC Technologies. “Our latest development with CISBOT now enables our field services group to deploy CISBOT in mechanically jointed mains 15” to 36” in diameter. We are also currently developing capabilities to deploy CISBOT in 42” mains.

Mechanical joints make up approximately 30% of the large diameter cast iron main construction in the U.S. and UK.

The Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES) wins UKSTT Award during No Dig Live 2021

ULC Robotics

We’re delighted that the Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES) was recognised at the prestigious United Kingdom Society of Trenchless Technologies (UKSTT) Awards, sharing the Innovative Product of the Year category.

The awards ceremony was hosted during the industry’s first face-to-face event in the UK since COVID-19 at No Dig Live 2021. Together, the UKSTT Awards and No Dig Live recognises those working to advance innovation in trenchless technology, showcasing the latest solutions and techniques to repair, renew, or install new pipelines with minimal excavation.

 

Innovative Product of the Year – The Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES)

RRES was developed alongside SGN to revolutionise the way utility companies, energy networks, and other industries carry out roadworks. The all-electric autonomous robotic platform combines below-ground locating sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to provide safer, faster, and smarter roadworks.

The platform was developed to overcome a wide range of challenges faced when conducting traditional utility excavations, including third-party damage, disruption to traffic, and carbon emissions. RRES provides an end-to-end process with less CO2 and a smaller physical footprint than traditional excavation methods to drive towards net-zero.

“Thank you to everyone who contributed to the development of this one-of-a-kind, all-electric robot.” Said Ali Asmari, RRES Project Lead at ULC Technologies. “We are looking forward to deploying the system in the UK soon following successful demonstrations in the U.S. earlier this year.”

To learn more about RRES, click here.

 

Did you miss our UK team at No Dig Live 2021?  Check out Sam Wilson’s (Director of UK Operations) interview with Trenchless Works on our stand during this years’ event:

Stay up to date with our latest innovations and news by following us on LinkedIn or signing up for our newsletter.

Robotics Business Review Recognizes ULC Technologies as a Leader in Robotics Innovation

ULC Robotics

ULC Technologies is a recipient of the 2021 RBR50 award in the Application & Market Innovation class for utilities. Specifically, the award highlights ULC’s work with the Robotic Roadworks & Excavation System (RRES), a collaborative innovation project in partnership with UK gas network, SGN.

“I am thrilled to see ULC and our work with RRES recognized by the RBR50 awards,” said Ali Asmari, RRES engineering lead and head of AI and machine Learning. “We’re excited for the future of this system and are looking forward to expanding its use cases in different industries.”

For over a decade, Robotics Business Review’s RBR50 Robotics Innovation Awards have highlighted the most creative and influential innovations from around the world that have advanced the state of robotics. This is the fifth year that ULC has been awarded.

“For the robotics sector, the role, importance, and impact of innovation has never been greater,” said Dan Kara, vice president of robotics at WTWH Media. “With this year’s RBR50 Robotics Innovation Awards, Robotics Business Review highlights those critical innovations, and the organizations responsible for them, that will spur the development of new robotics solutions and drive robotics adoption forward.”

“It is an honor to be included in the RBR50 awards alongside so many influential and forward-thinking companies,” said Rob Kodadek, president of ULC Businesses. “I’m proud of our world class engineering team and our partners at SGN for their ongoing commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.”

Check out the full 2021 RBR50 list here: 2021 RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award Honorees – Robotics Business Review

ULC Drawdown Compressor

ULC Technologies Unveils Solution to Help Gas Utilities Accelerate Emissions Reduction

ULC Robotics

New Drawdown Compressor Technology Allows Gas Distribution Utilities to Avoid Venting Natural Gas

Natural gas utilities around the globe are under increasing pressure to reduce methane emissions from their natural gas infrastructure. In 2019, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) in a nation-leading effort to fight climate change to see an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. On a Federal level, the U.S. committed today also reduce its GHG emissions to 50%-52% below its 2005 emissions levels by 2030 and set the U.S. economy to net zero by 2050.

Even before being mandated to reduce emissions, many natural gas utilities are voluntarily taking actions to be greener. National Grid announced a bold target in 2019 to reduce their own direct greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and just last month National Fuel Gas outlined a pathway to reach a 90% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050.

“The ULC Drawdown Compressor allows gas distribution utilities across the globe transform the way they maintain and operate their infrastructure while meeting their environmental and emissions reduction goals,” says Nathan King, Director of Marketing at ULC Technologies. “Natural gas can become stranded in a section of pipe, leaving gas utilities with few options on what to do with that natural gas. This innovative product allows gas utilities to take that stranded gas and put in back into the active pipeline network—avoiding the need to vent to atmosphere.”

Two key emissions reduction strategies being implemented by gas utilities are pipeline replacement and gas main modernization programs. Replacement of cast iron and bare steel gas mains has been helping reduce leakage and create a more reliable, PE based gas distribution network. The ULC Drawdown Compressor supports these programs by enabling gas utilities the ability to extract the natural gas prior to abandoning older infrastructure.

“In addition to supporting pipeline replacement programs, the Drawdown Compressor has applications for a wide range of gas operations and maintenance activities,” says Nathan King. “ULC has been working with two leading Natural Gas LDCs to pilot the Drawdown Compressor over the past two years. The solution has performed well on small volume projects as well as large volume projects, which is why our utility partners are already calling it a one-stop-shop tool in their effort to meet emissions reduction goals. Plus, it runs off natural gas from the active gas main, so there is no need for external air compressors, and it never runs out of fuel.”

Contact our team today to discuss our Drawdown Compressor technology or to schedule a demonstration. Our team is also hosting a series of brief webinars to further introduce the system to utilities and utility contractors.

ULC Announces the Addition of Jason Herman, Vice President of Technology

ULC Robotics

Jason Herman, VP of Technology

ULC Technologies welcomes the addition of Jason Herman, who joins the team as Vice President of Technology. Jason’s role will be key in delivering on ULC’s growth initiatives through increased support of R&D projects, better aligning innovations with market opportunities, and the introduction of new products and product enhancements.

Jason has lead engineering teams in highly technical industries and brings his strong experience as a business and technical leader to ULC. Prior to joining the team, he spent over 17 years at Honeybee Robotics where he recently held the position of Vice President and Business Unit Director with a primary focus in the space robotics industry. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clarkson University and he is a licensed professional engineer.

Jason will be based out of ULC’s Hauppauge, NY headquarters.

construction industry robotics

Virtual Event | RRES Field Trials Event with SGN

ULC Robotics

ULC Technologies and UK gas distribution network, SGN, are approaching the end of the collaborative Ofgem funded innovation project to develop an all-electric excavation robot which will revolutionise the way that roadworks are performed, the Robotic Roadworks and Excavation System (RRES).

Under the Surface of CISBOT: A Look Behind-the-Scenes of Commercial Robotic Operations

Many who are familiar with our CISBOT work will recognize the set up in the field – our crews working at a small site with our ULC truck or eco-cabin parked and the robot deployed in the gas main.

Behind the delivery of these complex robotic operations are additional crews working behind-the-scenes every day, across the U.S. and the UK, to ensure that our CISBOT operation continues to run successfully and well into the future by evolving and improving our systems. This includes mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, electro-mechanical technicians, product managers, field training managers, operations leads, and others.

Here’s a glimpse at the work that goes on behind-the-scenes:

ULC Robotics Announces Acquisition by SPX Corporation

ULC Robotics

ULC will join the company’s Detection and Measurement segment focused on location and inspection technologies

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y., Sept. 2, 2020ULC Robotics, a pioneer in Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions and technology development for the energy, utility and industrial markets, today announced that the company has been acquired by SPX Corporation, a supplier of highly engineered products and technologies, holding leadership positions in the HVAC, detection and measurement, and engineered solutions markets. ULC will join the Detection and Measurement segment of SPX which will contribute to ULC’S overall growth as a business and better position the company for product commercialization.

“We are delighted to join the SPX family and look forward to the continued growth of ULC Robotics in this exciting new phase,” said Gregory Penza, CEO and founder of ULC Robotics. “SPX’s extensive resources, expertise at commercializing new products and dedication to growing its Location and Inspection portfolio create attractive opportunities for ULC’s employees and customers alike.”

SPX will support ULC in product commercialization and market development of inspection technologies. The addition of ULC Robotics will round out SPX Corporation’s Detection and Measurement segment, which encompasses businesses focused on underground locators and inspection equipment, fare collection systems, and communication technologies products.

“We are excited to welcome the ULC Robotics team to SPX,” said Gene Lowe, President and CEO of SPX Corporation. “ULC’s Robotics-as-a-Service business is a strong complement to SPX’s world-class suite of solutions for the location, inspection and maintenance of underground infrastructure; and, the addition of ULC’s R&D business further enhances SPX’s capacity to develop advanced technology solutions for customers across our platforms.”

“Becoming a part of the SPX team will support ULC’s ongoing commitment to develop and deploy advanced technology for energy and utility companies around the globe,” said Robert Kodadek, President of ULC Robotics. “The future of ULC has become even stronger through this partnership.”

More information can be found in the SPX Corporation press release: www.spx.com/investor-relations/financial-news-releases.

EC Mergers & Acquisitions acted as the exclusive financial advisor to ULC Robotics.

 

Facebook Connectivity Fiber Optic Cable Robot

ULC Robotics Collaborates with Facebook Connectivity to Develop Aerial Fiber Deployment Robot

ULC Robotics

Overhead power line crawling robot to install fiber optic cable on existing electric infrastructure

More than 3.5 billion people globally are still not connected to the internet. Facebook Connectivity, in collaboration with ULC Robotics and several other partners, has been working on developing a robotic solution that can drastically reduce the cost of fiber installation.

Engineering teams at ULC Robotics are developing a robotic platform that can crawl along overhead medium-voltage powerlines and cross obstacles to wrap a specialized fiber optic cable around the power line. More information about the project can be found on the Facebook Engineering Blog and pilot programs are anticipated to begin next year.

Read more about ULC Robotics on our About Us page.

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