At Lanes Group, we offer a hugely dynamic working environment in which no two days are the same, and everybody on site has opportunities to advance their professional understanding and drainage expertise on a daily basis.
Will Dubin, a fourth-year civil engineering student at Imperial College London and founder of university start-up ManholeMetrics, undertook a placement with Lanes in April 2022 to take advantage of this learning opportunity. Will spent the day with a Lanes blockage clearing crew with the aim of learning more about London’s sewage network, in order to inform his work on his company’s innovative flooding analytics technology.
Learn more about Will’s work experience story - and how his day with Lanes contributed to his plans to reshape the future of flooding and sewage management…
Will has a longstanding interest in civil engineering, entrepreneurialism and innovative technology, which has prompted him to establish ManholeMetrics as a technological solution for empowering water industry providers with the tools to end flooding via data from innovative sensors and analytics.
He explained: “Wastewater can be considered an essential service at the very backbone of society, and being able to contribute in a meaningful way to the daily lives of so many is at the very core of why I chose to study civil engineering, and what I hope ManholeMetrics will achieve.”
Acknowledging ManholeMetrics’ potential as a solution to flooding and a major disruptor for the wastewater industry, Will has already been awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship and the London Mayor's Entrepreneur award for tech, among other accolades for his entrepreneurship.
As such, his decision to spend a day with Lanes was motivated by a desire to gain insight into the operations of the 110,000 km Thames Water network, with a view to better understanding sewage flooding and how the ManholeMetrics solution can combat the problem.
Will said: “As a Londoner, monster fatbergs had always intrigued me, but beyond this, the scope of urban flooding really took me by surprise. The lack of adequate sensing tech on the market presents a missed opportunity, and we are looking to deliver on low-cost, long-lasting and easy-to-install sensors with analytics to streamline operations and ultimately protect homes, businesses and the environment from flooding.”
Will joined Lanes field technicians Mark and Bruno from our Central North depot in a van for a day at the start of April 2022. After a quick stop in Harrow to assess follow-on works to a cracked sewage line on a development under construction, the team responded to an internal flood in Luton. Will was able to witness first-hand the damage the sewage was inflicting on the property and the distress of the residents, with sewage continuing to ooze into the premises.
Lifting the manhole cover revealed a mass of wet wipes and congealed fat. After identifying the downstream cover, the main line was jetted to no avail, and a CCTV survey gave no further clues. The line was jetted from upstream repeatedly, but this did not succeed in freeing the line either.
A Lanes technical specialist and a Thames Water network engineer later arrived on site, and the line continued to be jetted with some movement of the blockage. A city flex tanker was called to the site, extracting beach ball-sized masses of wet wipes and sucking clear much of the debris, with follow-on works raised for suspected damage to the main line.
Finally, the private line into the property was cleared, allowing cleaning and disinfection to take place - fortunately with little residual impact, due to the waterproofed floors of the communal ground floor area of the apartment block.
For Will, this work experience day offered an eye-opening insight into the day-to-day operations of our drainage team.
He said: “This gave me a new perspective on how to move forwards with our development and the very real consequences of flooding we as a society face.
“It was impressive to see the teams in action, and I have an entirely new level of respect for what Mark, Bruno and the rest of the Lanes field teams do with such passion and professionalism on a daily basis to keep us all safe from flooding. Their kit, expertise and knowledge of the inner workings of the network was impressive, as was their adaptability to deal with the variety of situations to which they respond, both from a network and customer viewpoint.
“Furthermore, from talking with the Lanes and Thames Water teams as well as witnessing it with my own eyes, it highlighted how the sensors we are developing could be a real asset to them.”
If you would like to learn more about Will’s groundbreaking efforts to develop new sensor technology to prevent flooding, you can visit the ManholeMetrics site.
If you want to learn more about working with Lanes, you can get in touch with us here, or start exploring the full range of drainage industry jobs we have to offer.
Lanes Group plc,
17 Parkside Lane, Parkside Industrial Estate, Leeds, LS11 5TD
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