Australian Innovation

Collaborative project develops new product to assist upgrade of portable water pipes

Copeland Industries, a South Australian plastic injection moulding business, has engaged with Flinders University to help develop a new trenchless technology for upgrading ageing potable water pipes.

For the past 18 months Copeland Industries has been working on the research and development phase of a project which will see the upgrade of ageing potable water pipes without the need to dig up existing infrastructure.

The current challenge for most water utilities is an aging water pipe infrastructure which is in need of upgrading. Upgrading the network is costly as well as time consuming and current practices to achieve this include new pipe replacement where possible and the use of trenchless technologies to reline existing, decaying pipe infrastructure.

However, new pipe replacement is limited by the access available to dig up a pipe, causing damage to assets on the surface and the creation of environmental issues, which in many cases prohibits this option.

Moreover, trenchless technology is not an option in many potable water pipes, due to the size of the replacement lining being too thick, thus reducing hydraulic flows within the pipe. This is unacceptable to network operators, as insufficient volumes of water will be delivered to each household.

In this project, Copeland has faced several challenges in navigating the product commercialisation and research and development processes.

The Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC) provided assistance to Copeland to access the Australian Government’s Enterprise Connect Researchers in Business (RIB) program which enabled Copeland to collaborate with Flinders University in the product development phase of the project.

The program provides up to $50,000 to small and medium size businesses to help cover the costs of accessing a researcher to assist them develop and commercialise new processes, products and services. Additional services provided by Innovate SA have included an Enterprise Connect Network review as well as assistance from The Executive Connection Group (TEC).

With regard to Copeland’s collaboration with Flinders University, scientific research conducted by the university provided Copeland with the technical data to design a product to meet the most stringent needs of today’s water utility owners and operators.  

This has resulted in Copeland’s product specification being thinner, lighter, and more flexible than the leading trenchless technologies currently being used by the world’s water utilities.

According to Copeland’s Managing Director Peter Mew, the collaboration with Flinders University as well as with worldwide partners including European machine design manufacturers has been invaluable:

“The assistance we received meant we were able to successfully identify a research partner through the Researchers in Business Grant. Flinders University has been invaluable in developing the technical data and design specifications required for our potable water pipe project.

Innovate SA and the AIC have been instrumental in navigating the grant process.

The Business Advisors we have worked with have also been a wonderful resource in helping to navigate the commercialisation process” Peter explained.


For further information about the Researchers in Business program please visit www.ausicom.com or call (07) 3853 5225 or e-mail info(at)ausicom.com.

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