Utilicor Technologies Inc.

Designed to Increase Roadwork Efficiencies

Utilicor Technologies Inc. manufactures keyhole coring equipment and a proprietary bonding compound, called Utilibond, that offers a solution to faster and more efficient infrastructure repairs. Called “coring and reinstatement”, this technology allows utility crews to perform repairs from the surface of the road through small 18 inch diameter cored openings in the pavement rather than opening large trenches. This process is safer and significantly reduces public inconvenience and results in a more efficient repair that reduces pavement restoration costs by as much as 80 per cent.

“Every business today is concerned with lowering costs of labour and material through efficiencies. Time is money, and labour is the largest cost of most businesses. Releasing a utility maintenance crew from the job in 30 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, results in huge savings. The coring and reinstatement process can save companies $1,000 or more per excavation. And when some of those companies do 5,000 to 6,000 pavement cuts per year,” says Marshall Pollock, President and CEO of Utilicor Technologies, “they can save 5 to 6 million dollars a year – and that’s real money!”

Traditional utility repair methods typically involve trenching through pavement using jack hammers, backhoes or pavement breakers. Then the resulting pavement spoil needs to be trucked away to the dump. When the crews finish the work, they put on a temporary patch and then a few months later, they have to come back, close the road to traffic again, and repave the road.

Like laparoscopic surgery in the medical field which is performed through small incisions, coring and reinstatement allows the crew to quickly and accurately cut a small circular core through the pavement, access and repair the infrastructure from the surface of the road using long-handled tools, and when they finish, they simply bond the original core back into the pavement as a permanent repair, all in one day. Half an hour later the road can be safely reopened to traffic.

Utilicor Technologies Inc. provides a unique solution that gives maintenance crews a technology that allows them to access buried infrastructure faster, with less public disruption, and enables them to bond the original core back in place using Utilibond, the company’s proprietary bonding compound that sets up and gains strength in less than 30 minutes.

Originally developed by Consumers Gas (now Enbridge) in 1988, Utilicor took over the process in 2001 and has continued to develop and improve the technology ever since.  So far there have been more that 250,000 keyhole cores successfully cut and reinstated in North America using this process, with zero reported failures.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with Pollock about the origins and advantages of this unique technology, and how the company plans to bring this cost-saving roadwork solution to the broadest possible market.

“It’s frustrating when you know that you have a great solution and you think that everyone should know about it and use it. The typical reaction that we get from potential customers when we demonstrate the process is always the same: ‘Wow! Why did I not know about this?’ — and that’s what keeps us going,” jests Pollock.

The company manufactures several versions of its coring equipment, including an affordable skid steer attachment – the Minicor-2, a multi-directional MD-300 truck mounted coring unit, and the versatile MPX, multi-platform unit, that mounts on most standard pick-up trucks and trailers, all the way up to the heavy duty, field proven Series 500 coring unit, with a turret mount that allows the crew to core 270 around the vehicle.

Utilibond, the company’s fast-setting bonding compound, has been specifically engineered and designed to bond asphalt and concrete cores back into the pavement with a super-strong (50,000 lb), waterproof bond that restores the road to its pre-excavation performance levels.

“If you are going to throw the core away, almost any coring equipment will work,” says Pollock. “But if you want to reinstate the core – and that’s where all the savings are — your equipment needs to be fully adjustable so that it cuts the core perpendicular to the horizon, and not the surface of the road. That surface may appear to be flat, but because the road goes up and down with the grade and slopes from the highest point in the centre for the water to run off at the curb, if it is not cut plumb to the horizon, when you go to reinstate the core, gravity will cause it and the bonding compound to slump to the lowest side, resulting in poor performance.”

Utilicor’s state-of-the-art fabrication facility in Toronto and its 10 employees build the Utilicor equipment one piece at a time to the highest industry standards. Typical lead times for Series 500 and MD 300 coring units are 10 to 12 weeks, with two weeks for the Minicor skid steer attachment or the MPX. The company also offers customization of the equipment according to the customers’ specific requirements that includes fleet specific lighting requirements, pintle hitch installation, on-board electrical inverters or custom manufactured storage solutions.

Utilicor sells its technology in Canada and worldwide, but the U.S. currently represents 90 per cent of the company’s market, selling units to the top 35 gas and water utilities, and their contractors. In today’s economy, utilities are looking more and more toward contracting maintenance and construction to independent contractors, and that’s where the efficiency of the Utilicor process comes in.

“There is a vast difference between the attitudes of the utility workers and those of independent contractors. The contractors are much more concerned with efficiencies, and want to do as much work as possible with the equipment, because that’s how they get paid,“ says Pollock.  
Utilicor’s technology offers a win-win-win solution, saving money for utilities, reducing damage to the roads, causing less public disruption, and even lowering the carbon footprint. With the aging North American infrastructure, and the push in the U.S. to spend about $1 trillion to replace it, Utilicor can provide a very cost effective solution.