IT’S a long way from negotiating corporate finance deals on St Georges Terrace to repairing broken sewer pipes in the back blocks of Jandakot, but John Hassen is revelling in the change.
The former Price Waterhouse partner is getting his hands dirty as chief executive of ShieldLinerCo, a Perth company that has developed an innovative trenchless pipe repair system.
The technology has numerous potential applications, for water and gas utilities and in industries such as mining.
This is reflected in the companies that have financed ShieldLiner’s research and development.
National Power Services (WA), the operations and maintenance company half-owned by Alinta, is a major backer, along with Premium Corporation, a civil contractor with extensive experience in pipe-related contracts for the Water Corporation.
Premium director Trevor Gosatti said his family invested in the technology because of the potential it offered.
“We could see the potential for it to be among the best in the world,” he said.
“We knew of the problems with the existing systems and we could see that ShieldLiner could deal with it.”
ShieldLinerCo passed a major milestone early this month when it successfully completed the first field trials of its ShieldLiner system, which lines, seals, repairs and reinforces pipes in one process.
A key attraction is that the liner bonds with the existing pipe and is therefore much stronger and more durable than alternative pipe repair systems, which effectively create a new pipe within the existing damaged pipe.
The technology also offers the potential for faster lining rates and lower lining costs.
Having conducted successful field trials, Mr Hassen is meeting with potential users of the technology so that further development can be customised to suit specific applications.
He said the company’s intention was to sell licences for the technology in specific countries while at the same time maintaining a contracting operation in Australia.
The company has already invested substantial sums obtaining patent protection for its technology.
The repair and relining of under-ground pipes is a multi-million dollar industry.
It addresses problems caused by the intrusion of tree roots and the infiltration of groundwater into pipes.
Replacing old or damaged pipes can be very expensive and in many cases impossible because of built structures above the pipes.
Mr Hassen, who spent several years advising emerging enterprises after leaving Price Waterhouse in 1997, was instrumental in establishing ShieldLinerCo in 2002.
His co-directors include Neil Graham, the inventor of the ShieldLiner technology, Julian Land, who recently retired as CSIRO’s principal commercial adviser, and Mr Gosatti, whose company has a turnover of more than $10 million per year and employs approximately 50 people.
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