Pipehawk recovers and develops new buried treasure

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UK underground mapping technology specialist Pipehawk fought back from a poor 2004 to achieve a record turnover of almost £1.5m.

UK underground mapping technology specialist Pipehawk fought back from a poor 2004 to achieve a record turnover of almost £1.5m.

The Hampshire company develops ground-probing radar (GPR) systems to pinpoint in real-time the position and depth of buried pipes and cables. It uses its technology to develop products in areas such as landmine detection and assisting utilities during pipe maintenance work.

The company suffered badly last year from delays by water regulator OFWAT in agreeing a new pricing structure for the industry. But Pipehawk said this issue has now been resolved, leaving the way open for water utilities to begin major expenditure programmes.

Pipehawk’s R&D division completed the development and prototype phase of its handheld pipe detector in association with the North East Gas Association (NEGAS) of the US. This involved Pipehawk building a lightweight, monostatic GPR system capable of complying with US regulations.

An outline design and specification for an operational landmine detection vehicle has now been produced and a detailed proposal submitted to the EU to develop the vehicle to the point of production.

Chairman Gordon Watts claimed that the proposal is being considered positively by the EU. Acceptance of the landmine system would see the fruition of 20 years of work by Pipehawk and its predecessor companies, he added.

Within the company’s other core areas, a broadening of its focus has yielded significant improvements in sales figures. Adien, its high-definition mapping and planning service, saw a 51 per cent increase in sales to more than £1m. It also signed an agreement with Leica Geosystems to upgrade surveying equipment.

Sumo, a jointly-owned venture launched in 2002 to provide an instant utility mark-out service, also enjoyed growth in 2005, with turnover up 149 per cent to £548,000 from £220,000 in 2004. It also added two new franchisees to its UK coverage.