Aries Industries: Achieving Big Success in a Sleeper Industry

Project Manager for Aries Industries, Dick Schantz labels TV Inspection “a sleeper industry.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, and, in fact, that concept was what drew me to the topic in the first place. As a newcomer to the liquid waste industry, TV Inspection intrigued me, but I found it a facet of the industry that is lacking maximum exposure. Schantz continues, “Not many people know about it unless they are involved in the industry.”

What people are familiar with is the Chilean miner crisis that occurred last year, and it was an Aries’ Slimline WC1750 BoreHole Camera System that was put down into the mine to survey the situation. The company’s original BoreCam was too big, but because the WC1750 was a slimmer lined camera—at less than two inches thick—it could fit down into the mine and still get a clear picture. Schanz says, “Every five or ten years, our cameras are involved in some sort of rescue mission.” He says those missions, unfortunately, do not always have positive results. The Chilean miner situation, though, was definitely one with a happy ending.

Aries Industries, a company that specializes in Closed Circuit TV Inspection and Rehabilitation Equipment in the sewer, gas and geophysical industries, started in the mid-1980s. Through the course of the last 25 years, they have become the leader in pipeline equipment. Aries can inspect any type of pipe, and they manufacture the only intrinsically safe camera that can enter gas mains. “It’s explosion proof,” Product Manager for Aries, Mark Grabowski says.

The need for television equipment came about after company founder, Bill Huelsman, would inspect pipe by dragging a camera through the line and snapping pictures. Huelsman created a system that used an old Kodak camera, “It looked like a torpedo with a glass front,” Schantz explains. A strobe would flash at every foot, snapping a picture of the surrounding pipe. Then, every ten feet, there would be no flash, leaving a black spot on the image, enabling operators to tell how far along in the pipe they were.

Aries Industries also emerged out of the Clean Water Act. Maintaining Wisconsin’s waterways is an issue Aries is very concerned about because tourism is a major draw for the state’s economy, especially in the summer. So there is a need and desire to ensure that the sewer systems are in good shape. “Wisconsin is very concerned about their water,” Schanz says, and out of that concern came the need for product development. Aries became one of only a few companies who became innovators in the TV inspection field, and Schantz is happy to report, “We’re one of the survivors.”

In addition to wanting to keep Wisconsin’s water clean, Aries Industries is acutely aware that the nation’s sewer lines are in need of major rehabilitation. Most of the nation’s underground infrastructure is well past its lifetime, and Aries’ equipment has the ability to find the areas in the infrastructure that are crumbling the most and fix it. The company’s Lateral Evaluation Televising System (LETS) is a system where two cameras are mounted as one and can be deployed into a sewer main via a robotic crawler. The second camera can turn in different directions and inspect the lateral lines that go into a house or business. LETS eliminates the need for contractors to go inside a person’s home or business. He says LETS has become a big deal, especially in assisting with the issue of rainwater overwhelming sewer systems. “It’s a big thing for municipalities. It really helps them out a lot,” Grabowski says. Schanz adds, “Aries made the equipment that cities and contractors need to get things done.”

Grabowski says the small camera that goes up the lateral line can pan to see a multitude of angles, and the camera’s lens is even equipped with wiper blades, “Operators no longer have to pull the camera out of the pipe, wipe it off and put it back in.”

Aries Industries has a new CEO in Nick Kroll. With 130 employees to oversee, Kroll is looking forward to improving what the company already has both on the customer service side, as well as the product line side. Aries has four locations spread throughout North America, with their headquarters in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. There is a large R&D facility in Fresno, California, a facility in Missasagua, Canada and a West Palm Beach, Florida Service Center.
Also held in Palm Beach, is an annual three day training event, hosted by Aries. The event is held in January, during the time of year when it’s easier for operators to attend due to the harsh winter and many of them shut down during that time. The training focuses on topics like the chemical grouting process, a process Schantz says, “is very difficult to teach yourself.”

Grouting is another big facet of Aries Industries. The grouting trucks, outfitted with control rooms, send a packer to find a leak in a mainline, and once the leak is found, the packer seals the water leak by injecting chemicals into the surrounding soil and shoots grout into the leak. Companies can go into a pipe with the goal of televising and identifying areas that need repair.

Once identified, operators will determine whether they need to re-line the pipe or chemically re-grout the sewer joint, which is also tested for air tightness. Grout prevents groundwater from leaking into the sewer main, and it also decreases build up of soil fines, which can occur when groundwater mixes with sewage and overloads wastewater treatment plants. Soil fines not only take up space, but can destabilize pipes, “They look wiggly,” Schantz says, for lack of a better term, “Many sewer lines that were installed in the 50s and 60s have seen no maintenance.”

“It’s a whole different world down there,” Schantz says, and Aries is there to check it out.

Story by Megan McClure

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