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Engineering startup taps into smart new way to monitor water pipes

Engineering startup taps into smart new way to monitor water pipes article image

Sydney startup VAPAR is transforming the way Australian councils and water utilities maintain and manage their pipe systems.

VAPAR, run by two female engineers, has developed new cloud platform technology designed to save councils time and money.

The startup received a $25,000 Minimum Viable Product Grant from Jobs for NSW to develop the new technology using artificial intelligence to automate reviews of pipeline CCTV footage.

VAPAR was founded by civil engineer Amanda Siqueira and mechatronic engineer Michelle Aguilar who attended high school at Our Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta before studying engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Ms Siqueira said the technology aims to save time for engineers who spend hundreds of hours manually reviewing pipe CCTV inspection footage to identify problems.

Time consuming process

“As an intern I spent eight hours a day watching this footage just looking for faults, a time consuming and fatiguing process. Michelle and I thought up a better way of reviewing the footage that used Michelle’s background in enterprise automation and machine learning.

“This grant helped us develop our platform and expand our technology to water utility customers including Northern Beaches Council, our partners in developing our prototype,” Ms Siqueira said.

Ms Aguilar said the technology will allow local councils and water utilities to upload pipe CCTV inspection footage of pipes directly to the cloud platform for automatic analysis.

“Our system cuts a two-day process down to two minutes, reducing inspection costs by 30 per cent and allowing on site repair work to be carried out straight after the inspection,” she said.

Huge potential globally

“With over 200,000 kilometres of gravity pipelines in Australia alone and $450 million spent each year maintaining sewerage networks, early detection and repair of faults in pipelines avoids the expensive process of digging up pipes once they are broken”

VAPAR has also been chosen to take part in a 12-month incubator program to develop business opportunities in the Indian market supported by the NSW Government and innovation consultancy Fusion Labs.

“Our technology has huge potential not only in Australia but globally. In India we will be talking with IT providers and government asset managers to learn as much as we can to develop business strategies for that market,” Ms Siqueira said.

Jobs for NSW CEO Nicole Cook said the NSW Government is committed to investing in the best and brightest startups and fast-growing SMEs.

“Supporting businesses like VAPAR is a great example of this commitment,” she said.

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