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New vans hit the road to tackle sewer blockages

Tuesday 3rd August 2021 11:17

Matt Hughes, of Lanes Group, in one of the new vans being used by Thames Water engineers

Matt Hughes, of Lanes Group, in one of the new vans being used by Thames Water engineers

Thames Water has rolled out the first in a line of brand new “van packs” to tackle sewer blockages and other problems across the region.

The state-of-the-art vans are packed with dozens of new features to save space and increase the amount and type of tools on board, meaning engineers are more likely to be able to fix issues for customers at the first attempt.

They include an extendable camera on a 100m-long cable, mounted on a reel which can be slid out of the van’s side doors, an on-board computer to allow footage to be uploaded and decision made on how to fix problems, and a powerful water jet capable of shooting out 10 gallons of water per minute, complete with a range of attachments.

Engineers will also have a full tool kit stored in foam cut-outs, meaning they will be able to check they have returned all their tools before leaving a job, and a compact device to allow them to safely lift manhole covers when needed.

There is also an interactive screen on the side of the van which can be used to display messages such as Thames Water’s ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ campaign, which can be used to target messages at a specific area depending on where the van is on a given day.

Safety features for the drivers include air-conditioned cabs, safety grips when getting in and out of the van and lock boxes for valuables and other equipment.

Alex Saunders, Thames Water’s regional manager for waste, said: “These state-of-the-art vehicles are the next generation of vehicles our engineers will use and have been designed around ensuring we can fix problems for our customers first time, without having to return at a later date.

“We also took on board feedback from our team, making the vans safer and more comfortable for long days at work in all kinds of weather.

“By storing equipment in a more sensible and compact way we’ve been able to create extra room for additional kit which will further help us sort out issues at the first time of asking.

“The first vans have had a great start to operational life and we’re looking forward to getting more of them out in the field.”

Working alongside contractors Lanes Group, the UK’s largest water company put the first seven vans into the field last month. They have already dealt with several blockages, preventing the risk of sewage spilling into homes, businesses and the environment.

Eventually, there will be more than 100 on the roads across London and the Thames Valley keeping the region safe from blocked sewers and other problems.

The new vans, along with new CityFlex trucks, CCTV vehicles and beavertail vans, will see Thames Water’s fleet size increase by one-fifth over the next year, while the average age of vehicles will drop from almost six years to less than three.