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Modernizing Gas Infrastructure: Innovations in Pipeline Inspections

Modernizing Gas Infrastructure: Innovations in Pipeline Inspections
Innovative technologies like the IPLEX™ GAir videoscope provide comprehensive and precise inspections within narrower pipelines, ensuring safety and minimizing downtime.

Iron gas mains are currently being replaced with modern plastic pipelines to enhance safety, save costs, and benefit the environment. However, plastic pipes have smaller diameters and substantial weld joints due to heat fusion, inhibiting the use of certain videoscopes for inspection. To address this, innovative technologies like the IPLEX™ GAir videoscope provide comprehensive and precise inspections within narrower pipelines, ensuring safety and minimizing downtime.

Content provided by Evident (ex-Olympus)

Natural gas remains the primary source for heating buildings and providing hot water throughout Europe. Natural gas service lines provide this essential energy by linking distribution lines to residential and commercial properties. However, this system is undergoing rapid change in response to the need for decarbonization, energy diversification, and the modernization of existing infrastructure

Due to these concerns, natural gas pipelines are now being replaced with plastic pipelines that can safely transport both natural gas and other energy sources such as hydrogen and biomethane. Plastic pipes provide various benefits over traditional iron pipelines such as increased durability, corrosion resistance, and a reduced likelihood to leak. 

Replacing Vulnerable Iron Pipes With Plastic Ones

In the UK, for example, the Iron Mains Risk Reduction Program (IMRPP) has rapidly replaced vulnerable iron pipes with plastic ones, intending to replace all of them by 2032 [1]. This change ensures an enduring and secure gas distribution network and primes the country’s extensive gas grid for hydrogen and biomethane, a critical step in reducing greenhouse emissions. Already, the IMRPP has curbed emissions by over a fifth (22.4%) since 2014, the equivalent of taking 179,123 cars off the road [2].

Pipeline inspections are critical to maintaining energy distribution systems and preventing failures that could have severe consequences for human health and the environment. Visual inspection tools such as videoscopes are an integral part of safety control and risk prevention measures, detecting any signs of corrosion, defective welds, loose parts, excessive wear and tear, and other imperfections within pipelines. 

However, modern plastic pipelines tend to have smaller diameters than traditional iron gas pipelines. While gas pipelines can range from 1.25 to 2.48 inches in diameter, the most common size for plastic piping is ½ inch (12.7mm). Furthermore, the heat fusion welding used in these pipes results in substantial weld joints within the pipeline, further shrinking the interior diameter (ID) at bends. Consequently, this constriction may hinder the insertion of industrial videoscopes equipped with large-diameter insertion tubes.


With a shift towards plastic pipelines, maintaining these lines requires innovative technologies capable of navigating intricate spaces and providing clear insights into potential vulnerabilities. The IPLEX™ GAir has a 30-meter articulating scope in 8.5mm (and 6mm up to 18m), ensuring comprehensive inspection of the entire pipeline, even in sections with reduced IDs at weld joints. This innovation, coupled with features like TrueFeel and pneumatic articulation, allows for precise maneuvering regardless of the scope’s length, ensuring thorough examinations even in the most inaccessible areas.

Pipeline inspection primarily focuses on detecting cracks and wear which requires high-resolution imaging from videoscopes. To ensure optimal visibility for identifying these concerns, powerful LED lights and a laser system are integrated within the IPLEX™ Gair. Additionally, the durable construction of the insertion tube ensures uninterrupted inspections, minimizing downtime and maximizing efficiency.

Innovative technologies like the 30m IPLEX™ GAir videoscope dramatically improve pipeline inspection efficiency by providing enhanced durability, maneuverability, and high-quality imagery. This technology not only enhances safety by identifying potential imperfections but also streamlines maintenance processes, ensuring the seamless operation of crucial infrastructure while minimizing downtime and financial risks.

Discover more about how the IPLEX™ GAir videoscope can enhance your pipeline inspections


  1. Enforcement Policy for the iron mains risk reduction program 2021—2026. (2021). Retrieved 29 November 2023, from
  2. Replacing Britain’s old gas pipes and laying the foundations of a zero-carbon gas grid. (2020). Energy Networks Association. Retrieved 29 November 2023, from