CUES Takes Pride in Logevity, Durability of its Tools

CUES’ durable equipment is backed by decades of innovation and a strong commitment to customer service.

CUES Takes Pride in Logevity, Durability of its Tools

The CUES SoLID FX is a multisensor inspection system for large-diameter pipes. Its LIDAR, sonar and CCTV capabilities can provide condition assessment or rehab planning for pipelines 18 inches and larger.

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CUES has been a fixture in the pipeline inspection industry for more than five decades. The company designs and manufactures a wide range of high-quality pipeline inspection and rehabilitation equipment.

While often praised for the longevity and durability of its systems, CUES takes even greater pride in its individualized customer service and support. CUES’ team provides equipment training, phone troubleshooting, parts support and extensive repair networks to keep its customers out on the job.

Plumber recently spoke with Alexander Milley, CUES regional sales manager for the Southeast, and Chris Graybill, CUES customer service manager, about the company’s varied equipment, custom offerings and extensive customer support.

Plumber: Tell us a little about the history of CUES.

Milley: CUES was founded in 1964, about 10 miles from where our factory operates today. Little-known fact: CUES is an acronym for Community Utility Equipment Supply. Holding true to its original identity and purpose, CUES specializes in CCTV inspection equipment for sewer and stormwater assets — and has since day one. Having said that, the company continues to evolve and grow to meet customer needs and maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace. CUES is — and always has been — an American-made product. A tremendous amount of pride accompanies every unit CUES ships, knowing the company supports a local workforce and the local workforce supports the customer.  

CUES has had ups and downs over the year; however, like all great companies, strong leadership and a resilient staff have adapted and overcome many daunting challenges, forging the company people see today. The open and interactive relationship between customers, channel partners and the factory is a hallmark of CUES and will continue to be an integral part of our growth recipe. 

Plumber: What differentiates your pipeline inspection systems from the competition?

Milley: CUES offers a wide variety of products ranging from simple push cameras to 3D LIDAR imaging systems — and everything in between. The breadth of the offering is the broadest and one of the most advanced in the industry. With this vast offering, CUES strives to offer a solution for all needs in the CCTV inspection market. CUES has some exciting products that we feel are unique based specifically on their technology — most notably the EZ Grout Panel, Micro P&T lateral launch camera, SoLID FX multisensor platform and SPiDER manhole scanner. 

In general terms, outside of some of the more advanced products, one thing comes to mind that makes CUES equipment stand out: longevity. It is not uncommon to meet a customer with a 10- to 15-year-old system — sometimes a 20- to 25-year-old system — that still gets used daily. The value the taxpayer or business owner gets out of a CUES system over that life cycle is immense. What allows this to happen is demanding leadership, a skilled and experienced workforce and a tremendous investment in customer service. 

Realizing jobs depend on our equipment’s functioning, CUES’ investment in customer service — through repair/troubleshooting training, field operation training, telephone support, satellite service centers, channel partners and loaner inventory — have built a foundation to support customer uptime. CUES would not have such a large footprint in the marketplace without this level of dedication.

Plumber: Tell us about the inspection systems,  what applications they best serve and what  needs they address.

Milley: The scope of work is rather broad. With lateral launch, gas cross-bore inspection, lateral inspections and blockage locates can be addressed. The various SONAR systems can inspect siphons, calculate debris levels and assess pipe wall degradation. The various laser systems can calculate pipe-ovality and joint-separation measurements. The manhole systems can provide measurable data for accurate decision-making and quality assurance.

With products directed at pipe rehabilitation, CUES offers tools for lateral reinstatement, debris/obstruction grinding, joint sealing (for leaks) and point repairs. Finally, for meeting demanding footage goals and assisting with overall inspection cost-reduction, CUES offers the DUC digital side-scanning camera. This is just a sample of the applications CUES products can address.

Plumber: You also offer custom inspection vehicles. Tell us more about those offerings and what customizations are available; walk us through what that process is like for a customer.

Milley: Yes. In fact, this is another differentiator: CUES starts with an empty unit and fully up-fits the entire interior — walls, floors, cabinetry, etc. When someone buys a CUES truck, it is truly a “CUES truck” — not a mix of third-party workmanship. With this level of involvement, CUES is in a strong position to support the customer after the sale, should any questions arise. 

As far as offerings, there are far too many to list. Essentially, as long as the desired equipment and layout fit within the physical dimensions and vehicle weight ratings, almost anything is possible at CUES. 

Plumber: What are some recommendations for customers shopping for inspection systems?

Milley: Take your time, speak with current users performing similar work and don’t underestimate the value of support. User feedback is invaluable to not only the manufacturer, but also other users in the market. Most brands will work for the first one or two years; it is after three-plus years where the value of a system is justified — or not.

Plumber: CUES is known for its customer support. What sort of after-sale training and support is available? Why is this so important to CUES?

Graybill: CUES believes that strong after-sale support is key to productivity by minimizing customer downtime. We provide this by having dedicated training and troubleshooting staff, as well as repair services at a number of facilities across the U.S. and Canada. We also maintain a large inventory of loaner equipment that is available at no charge to customers while their unit is being serviced. Our training staff is available to travel to the customer’s site and provide individual training on any of our inspection and rehabilitation systems. We can also provide web-based training on both hardware and software as requested.      

Plumber: CUES offers technical training schools in many regions of the country throughout the year.  What sort of training do these courses include? What do attendees get out of the programs?  

Graybill: Our courses are designed to teach our students how to effectively identify and resolve problems as they occur, minimizing downtime while troubleshooting system faults. The training is comprehensive, covering everything from AC and DC theory, meter operation, voltage and continuity checks to video path and power path diagnosis. Courses for both mainline and lateral troubleshooting are available. The CUES REDI Kit, a collection of troubleshooting aids specifically designed to speed fault location, is also covered. Our students leave with a package of system drawings and troubleshooting guides and, most important, a clear understanding of our systems and the confidence to troubleshoot them effectively.

Quick disclaimer: Due to COVID-19, our classes, schools and shows are of course canceled, on hold or conducted online. Once things are “back to normal,” everything will resume.

Plumber: How do you see the drain cleaning and inspection industry evolving?

Milley: Like most technological industries of today, the inspection industry is rapidly evolving — higher-resolution cameras, wireless technology, new types of scanners and deeper integration of software. As time passes, I believe the industry will see refinement of these, as well as the introduction of new technology.

Plumber: What was new for CUES in 2020?  What can customers expect out of CUES in the future?

Milley: 2020 was an exciting year for CUES with the release of a number of products. The most notable are the C550c Hunter Base Station, Micro P&T lateral launch camera, Currahee cutter/grinder and GraniteNet Web Sync module.

Customers can expect continuing innovation with the same access and dedication to customer support.

Plumber: What do you want your customers to think  of when they hear the name CUES? Is there anything else you would like to add?

Milley: Reliability. Reliability goes beyond products, extending through the workforce: Reliable people creating reliable products with reliable support.

And as a proud employer of many veterans, CUES would like to extend a sincere thank you to all U.S. armed forces, veterans and first responders.  


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