Wales & West Utilities apprentices access latest technology

April 5, 2016

Steve Vick International is involved in the instruction of 22 apprentices who are currently undertaking training at Wales & West Utilities’ £3 million training Academy in Treforest, South Wales. Work has begun on a ductile iron replacement project and as a result, the need for training on Steve Vick International’s range of new Rapid Pipe Cutters arose.

The apprentices are already one year into their programmes, which will last 2 to 3 years. Once they have completed the course they will have the skills to be employed as competent network construction operatives within the gas distribution network.

Wales & West Utilities HR Director Sarah Hopkins says, “The apprentices are based across the company’s operating area and are going through training programmes to develop the skills to deliver a safe, reliable and efficient service that will keep customers safe and warm with a gas supply they can rely on for years to come.”

The Rapid Window Cutter, developed with Wales & West Utilities

One of the machines that the apprentices will learn to use is Steve Vick’s Rapid Window Cutter which was developed in collaboration with Wales & West Utilities to meet the need for a fast, safe and easy-to-use method of dramatically reducing cutting time on ductile iron pipes during Live Mains Insertion.

Whilst the majority of the existing gas network in the UK is made up of cast iron pipes, there is a significant proportion constructed from ductile iron and steel. These mains pose a problem for utilities when carrying out live and dead mains insertion, as they are not able to be broken out easily like cast iron mains.

The Rapid Window Cutter is probably the fastest on the market, able to cut a window in ten minutes when traditional equipment would take significantly longer. Suitable for use on ductile iron pipes in the size range 100mm to 200mm (4”, 6” and 8”), the machine is fitted with depth controls allowing it to be used safely on inserted pipe. It is small and lightweight and the compact design allows the cutter to be used close up to third party equipment.

The Rapid Rotary Cutter for ductile iron

Steve Vick International will also train the apprentices in the use of their Rapid Rotary Cutter, a compact circumferential cutter which is able to cut a 4” ductile main in around two minutes.
The machine is ideal to use during live or dead insertion projects and is supplied with depth control discs to prevent damage to internal PE pipe.

A major benefit of the Rapid Rotary Cutter is that it operates without the need for water coolant when cutting ductile iron which is highly convenient and leaves a dry trench.

Crock Harrison, Steve Vick International’s Managing and Technical Director, says, “With these two products – The Rapid Window Cutter and the Rapid Rotary Cutter – as well as other cutting equipment in our range, we believe that Wales & West Utility apprentices will have faster, safer and more efficient ways of cutting gas mains at their fingertips when they begin work replacing the aging metal mains in communities throughout Wales and the South West of England.”

“We are committed to providing training for all our equipment, either on or off site, to help our customers get the best possible advantages from our products,” Crock Harrison continued.
Wales & West Utilities is undertaking a multi-million-pound 30-year mains replacement programme across Wales and the South West, which began in 2002. Old metal pipes within 30 metres of buildings are being replaced with new PE pipes with a lifespan of more than 80 years.

The Rapid Window Cutter and Rapid Rotary Cutter are part of Steve Vick International’s expanding range of pipe handling equipment designed to improve safety, reduce costs and improve efficiency within the utility industry.