It’s been said that the only thing worse than not having a sewer pipe rehab budget is having one and rehabbing the wrong pipe. That is exactly what Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program (PACP) sewer inspection helps prevent. PACP is the US industry standard system for coding defects and construction features from CCTV pipeline inspection video, and using it helps us all reduce our costs and spend our precious sewer rehabilitation budgets better.
All about standardization (and saving money)
Most cities perform inspection of pipe throughout the year and use that data to prioritize and schedule the following year’s maintenance and rehab. If a city with 500 miles of pipe inspects 25 miles a year, they will be most likely to spend the following year’s rehab dollars over that 5% of their system. They, they inspect another 25 miles (5%) the following year, and the same thing happens. By the time they finish inspecting all their pipes, twenty years have passed, the staff has turned over twice, the city has hired five different contractor teams, and procedures books have come and gone.
PACP fixes that problem by bringing standardization. With standardization, differentiation is removed. When differentiation is removed, prices are reduced — the service becomes more of a commodity. As more and more contractors, engineers and owners adopt PACP standards, those who have it will not be able to call it out as a distinctive competence, i.e. they won’t be able to charge more for it. This will ultimately allow cities to inspect more pipe for less cost.
Standardization brings a second advantage: If sewer inspection crew 1 is calling a pipe defect a crack and crew 2, on the other side of town, is calling the same pipe defect a fracture, there is a problem. PACP defect coding eliminates those issues and allows inspectors and decision makers to speak the same language. For example: If at the end of the year, Truck 1 and Truck 2′s data is standardized and is located in a database, a query can be run to identify all category 3-5 visible surface reinforcement and a decision to point repair, replace or rehab can be made. If too much of the funds are being used, queries can be adjusted to list only the 5′s, then 4′s, etc until the funds are exhausted. This practice allows authorities to pinpoint expenditure of their precious dollars on the pipes that need the most attention.
And in case you aren’t a believer in standardization yet, let me point out a third advantage. With PACP, when you reinspect as part of your 5-10 year inspection cycle, or any time in the future, your ability to compare historic conditions will be easier and more accurate, since the same coding definitions will be used.
NASSCO & PACP Software
While writing about PACP, it’s important to mention an industry group, the National Association of Sewer Service Companies (NASSCO). NASSCO was formed in 1976 to “improve the success rate of everyone involved in the pipeline rehabilitation industry through education, technical resources, and industry advocacy.” They are best known for their pioneering work with Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program (PACP). Another important service that NASSCO provides to our industry is certification of software vendors that provide PACP inspection software to the industry. The fundamental goal of this activity is to ensure that PACP codes and their associated attributes are correctly implemented within video coding software, and more importantly, are cleanly exportable to other any other PACP certified software. This prevents any one software vendor from using proprietary features to lock competition out of the inspection market and force end users to purchase custom software to extract the value from those coded inspections.
By drawing the line in the sand on PACP certification, NASSCO has leveled the playing field so that anyone with PACP certified software can provide high-quality inspections that are correctly coded by certified operators and exported into standard databases from certified software. Standardization and Certification are the beating heart of the NASSCO membership and we have all benefited from those efforts.