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Advanced technologies to rehabilitate pipes

There are more than 4500 kilometres of underground stormwater drains and sewers across Hong Kong. Many of those in the old districts have been in use for over 30 years. The sewers, in particular, are more prone to ageing and deterioration due to prolonged exposure to corrosive gases brought by sewage. Drainage Services Department (DSD) has gradually rehabilitated the high-risk underground pipes by adopting a pipe repair method that requires no excavation of pipe trenches or road surfaces in order to alleviate inconvenience caused to the public during the works. Gradual rehabilitation of old pipesSerious wear and tear will cause pipe collapse and road subsidence, bringing adverse impact on traffic, environment and public safety. Since 2017, the DSD has initiated comprehensive planning for the phased investigation and rehabilitation of pipes that have been assessed to be of high risk and formulated a territory-wide replacement and rehabilitation programme. However, we have to face a number of challenges in carrying out drainage improvement works in urban areas. Hong Kong is congested not only with people and vehicles, but also with various underground utilities such as gas pipes, communication facilities and water pipes. The traditional “open trench” rehabilitation technology may inevitably affect traffic and residents. The benefit of the new trenchless technology introduced by the DSD in recent years is that pipes can be replaced and rehabilitated without the need to open up an entire road section. Only a temporary shaft is neededAccording to Engineer of the Project Management Division of the DSD, Mr CHEN Ka-yin, the trenchless pipe rehabilitation works only need to excavate a temporary shaft at an individual location to facilitate the insertion of new pipe material into an old pipe to form a new pipe. Under this method, the excavation requires less open space and a shorter duration of works, allowing traffic to resume quickly after the completion of works to minimise impacts to the public. Currently, subject to the damage of the pipes and on-site situations, the DSD mainly employs three trenchless technologies, namely cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining, spirally-wound lining and slip-lining. CIPP lining technologyAccording to Mr CHEN Ka-yin, under the CIPP lining technology (that is commonly referred to as the “insertion into pig intestines” in Chinese), a soft polyester liner with a thickness of 10 to 40 millimetres is pulled into the host pipe through a “launch shaft”. The liner is then expanded and cured by steam or hot water until it hardens and forms a new pipe. This technology can be used on pipes under dry condition. In rehabilitating trunk sewers that still has water flow, we have to employ the spirally-wound lining technology instead. In this technique, a special winding machine is placed inside the pipeline to helically wind steel-reinforced polyethylene strips into circular shape to form a new pipe in the original pipe. Alternatively, the slip-lining method can also be used. As both methods are designed for the rehabilitation of running pipes, no interception is required. Slip-lining methodStanding at the construction site on Bailey Street in To Kwa Wan, Mr CHEN Ka-yin introduces the use of the slip-lining method at the site. First, a temporary shaft will be set up at an appropriate location. Part of the old pipeline will then be cut and exposed. After cleaning and inspection of the pipe, a 1.5-metre long fibreglass plastic liner will be pushed into the old or damaged pipe section by section. Then, with cement slurry filling the gap between the new and the old pipelines, a new pipe is formed. He points out that although a fibreglass plastic liner looks relatively thin, its structural strength is equal to that of a concrete pipe and its lifespan is up to 40 to 50 years. Planning for stage 2 worksAs the rehabilitation works of all stormwater drains and sewers in Hong Kong involves 18 districts, over the course of four months, colleagues of the DSD visited each of the districts to consult the relevant District Council committees and explain project details to stakeholders, so as to give an early start to the projects. Stage 1 works had begun and are scheduled for completion in 2022. Stage 2 works are scheduled to start in 2020 to conduct condition survey and rehabilitation of stormwater drains and sewers in six districts, including Tsuen Wan, Sham Shui Po and Yau Tsim Mong. (The video is broadcasted in Cantonese) (The video is provided by Development Bureau)

Drainage Services Department's remote-controlled desilting robot

In Hong Kong, the rainy season generally starts in April. In order to further reduce flood risks during rainstorms, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) has introduced the “just-in-time clearance” arrangement this year. It has also adopted new technologies in using a new remote-controlled desilting robot for silt clearing works at box culverts to enhance the efficiency of desilting works. Preventing silt accumulation from affecting the drainage capacityHong Kong faces an average rainfall of about 2 400 millimetres a year, one of the highest among cities in the Pacific Rim. According to Mr POON Tin-yau, an engineer of the DSD, when stormwater is discharged into the sea through box culverts, the washed-off sand, stones and dust will accumulate gradually at the drains to form silt, which will in turn affect the drainage capacity and may lead to flooding in the most serious cases. To avoid the above situation, the department inspects the box culverts on a regular basis and arranges the desilting works if necessary to ensure that the drains are functioning properly. Operating as a vacuum cleanerEarly this year, a new remote-controlled desilting robot was introduced into the DSD. The DSD conducted a pilot test on the use of the robot for desilting works at the box culverts in Sham Shui Po and Tsuen Wan with its functions monitored. The robot will be lifted up with a crane and sent into the box culvert concerned through its opening. With the help of closed-circuit television and sonic survey, the operator can then observe the conditions inside the box culvert and remotely operate the robot for desilting from his workstation. Mr POON Tin-yau says that the robot, measuring approximately 3 metres in length, and 1.5 metres in both width and height, works similarly to a vacuum cleaner. Once the silt is sucked by the robot, it will be pumped to a temporary silt container on the ground through a tube connected to the robot. The silt will be transported to a landfill only after dewatering. Enhancing work safetyAccording to the traditional desilting method, workers need to go into the box culverts for installation and operation of desilting devices. Given that box culverts are confined spaces, workers working inside will face certain safety risks. The traditional method also requires interception of water flow in the culverts to allow workers to work in an environment without water flowing through, which means the work is limited mostly to dry seasons. On the contrary, the remote-controlled desilting robot can take over diving tasks to spare workers from going into confined and submerged space of the box culverts. Apart from enhancing work safety, the use of the robot allows desilting works in rainy seasons, which in turn will expedite the progress of such works, lower the costs and significantly improve the desilting efficiency. Implementation of the “just-in-time clearance” arrangementFurthermore, the DSD had analysed more than 200 flooding cases between 2017 and 2019, finding that more than 60 percent of them were due to blockage of drains by litter, fallen leaves or other washouts carried by surface runoff. This year, the department will implement the “just-in-time clearance” arrangement. Before the onset of a rainstorm, staff will be deployed to inspect about 200 drain locations in the territory which are susceptible to blockage by litter, fallen leaves or the like, and will immediately arrange for clearance if necessary. The department will also send staff to inspect and clear all major drainage intakes and river channels to prevent blockage after a rainstorm or when a typhoon signal is about to be lowered so as to prepare for the challenges of further rainstorms. Constructing more underground stormwater storage tanksApart from strengthening the responsive management measures before and after rainstorms, the DSD will continue to press ahead with its flood prevention strategy, which includes constructing more underground stormwater storage tanks to collect and temporarily store excessive rainwater during rainstorms, thus reducing the loading at downstream drains and the consequential flood risks. At present, six locations are under planning, including Shek Kip Mei Park, Tai Hang Tung Recreation Ground (extension), the Urban Council Centenary Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui, as well as Sau Nga Road Playground, Kwun Tong Ferry Pier Square and Hoi Bun Road Park in Kwun Tong District. (The video is broadcasted in Cantonese) (The video is provided by Development Bureau)

Shift Charge Engineer

A Shift Charge Engineer is mainly deployed on assisting a Chief Engineer/Senior Engineer in supervising the operation and maintenance of engineering plants in hospital, workshops, sewage treatment facilities or other engineering plants in the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department or in other departments. Organisation chart

Structural Engineer

In case of highly imaginative architectural designs, the Structural Architect will, through precise mechanics calculations, ensure compliance with safety standards and retain aesthetic value. For example, owing to the large-span curved roof and column-free design of the Ma On Shan indoor sports centre, coupled with other environmental constraints, it finally took a series of design adjustments to fix the problems. To be a Structural Architect, one should not only be well versed in physics and mathematics, but also have meticulous logical thinking ability. What’s most important is the determination to solve problems. Organisation chart

Aircraft Engineer

Aircraft Engineer of Government Flying Service, Wing, "The most important quality of an Aircraft Engineer of Government Flying Service is a calm and sophisticated mind. We are always faced with unexpected challenges and aircraft breakdowns, which require us to make quick and precise decisions based on thoughtful judgements." Please watch the video for more information about job duties, career path etc. of Aircraft Engineer of Government Flying Service. Organisation chartOfficial recruitment page

Geotechnical Engineer

Owing to its mountainous terrain, Hong Kong is predisposed to flooding and landslides. Protecting our citizens from these natural hazards is the job of not only the disciplinary forces, but also the geotechnical engineers, who are responsible for monitoring every landslide black spot to make high-precision assessment of landslides. Striving to protect the lives of local citizens, Jenny Yeung demonstrates how women can equal men in their fearless performance as geotechnical engineers in the face of the dangers of natural disasters. Organisation chartOfficial recruitment page

Civil Engineer

To many, being an engineer simply requires an aptitude for making complex calculations and wholehearted commitment to construction site work. However, Sunny Sun, a civil engineer at the Civil Engineering and Development Department, will tell you that his job involves not only working on construction sites, but also reaching out to the public, so that in the planning process he can contribute to building our city with a human touch. Organisation chartOfficial recruitment page

Structural Engineer

"If I work as a structural engineer in a private consultancy firm, my everyday routines would be full of numbers, building plans and site inspections. However, in the Buildings Department, I am responsible for the entire life cycle of a private building - from construction to completion." T K, Structural Engineer of Buildings Department. Please watch our video to find out more information about the work of Structural Engineer of Buildings Department and its career prospect. Organisation chartOfficial recruitment page

Building Services Engineer

The design and maintenance of the necessities of life in a modernised building, such as daily provision of water and electricity, elevator and air-conditioning services, as well as emergency fire and security systems, are the responsibilities of the Building Services Engineer. To meet today’s requirements, it is also necessary for the Building Services Engineer to address the need for environmental protection. While saving money on water and electricity bills, however, he or she must also try to minimise inconveniences to the users. Building Services Engineers have also begun using energy-saving light bulbs, solar and wind power generating facilities, etc., to fulfil the needs of both modern living and environmental protection. Since it is a Building Services Engineer’s job to design the right equipment for a building, he or she should have strong organisational skills, a logical mind, and profound knowledge in science to properly evaluate various requirements, for example, the electrical system requirements. He or she should also have the drive for innovation to satisfy the needs of modern living. Organisation chart