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Leveraging Remote Operating Vehicles to Repair America’s Pipeline Infrastructure

By Dr. Robert L. Gordon | 08/19/2014 | 6:05 AM

Guest Post by Dr. Robert Gordon, faculty member at American Public University

America’s infrastructure has been suffering in silence for decades, but some recent incidents are bringing some of the problems to the surface. A break in a 100-year-old water main in Los Angeles caused millions of dollars of flooding and damage. Unsafe drinking water in Toledo, Ohio, was also the result of an infrastructure deficiency. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the US infrastructure a GPA of D+ and estimates that it will require an investment of $3.6 trillion is needed by 2020. 

This cost is due to the need for reactive repairs, rather than using new technology to work on proactive repairs. Fast Company reported that university researchers are working on a system to detect road repairs early in order to have the work done proactively and cheaply.  Northeastern University estimates that 32 percent of roads are bad and are in need of work.  Early detection of infrastructure issues is the only way to make improvements and manage costs. 

Help for our aging pipelines can come by applying software that can detect cracks and small issues in water or any other fluid pipeline. This would mean equipping a remote operated vehicle (ROV) with cameras and sensors to swim through various pipelines to locate issues rather than digging up the entire pipeline and replacing it. Being able to understand the scope of a pipeline job will help control costs as well as help to focus resources where needed most.

Clearly, technology can help us address America’s ailing infrastructure. The US needs to work on these new solutions in order to aggressively correct decades of neglect. Technology will allow infrastructure managers to shift the focus on identifying issues early, saving taxpayer dollars and averting the disruptions that infrastructure failures cause.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is currently an associate professor with American Public University System in the Reverse Logistics Management program. He has four published books, three regarding project management and one regarding reverse logistics in addition to dozens of articles. Dr. Gordon curates a Reverse Logistics topic at http://www.scoop.it/t/reverse-logistics-by-robert-gordon2.



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About Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon

Dr. Robert Lee Gordon is program director of the Reverse Logistics department at American Public University. Dr. Gordon has over twenty-five years of professional experience in supply chain management and human resources. He holds a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from UCLA. Dr. Gordon has spent more than 14 years teaching reverse logistics, transportation, project management, and human resources. He has published articles on reverse logistics; supply chain management; project management; human resources; education, and complexity. He has also published four books on Reverse Logistics Management; Complexity and Project Management; Virtual Project Management Organizations, and Successful Program Management..

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