A smarter water future
Andrew Welsh, General Manager for Water Utilities at Xylem Water Solutions UK, talks about how we can future-proof water productivity, quality and resilience with smart networking.
Water and wastewater managers are facing acute infrastructure challenges. These include pipe leaks, mains bursts, sewage and storm water overflows, as well as energy-intensive operations coupled with the insufficient data to aid in efficient decision-making and management of assets. In conjunction, cities are expanding with an exponential increase in population, triggering uncertainty over water resource.
With the recent pandemic added to the equation, water networks who are already suffering from a lack of investment are under even higher pressure with increased and variable demand profiles.
The solution? Adoption of integrated smart networks that comprises of intelligent equipment and data-driven digital solutions to support decision making. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the key in this equipment to reduce time and effort in the monitoring and maintenance of these critical assets.
With smart networks installed, remote and continuous monitoring of operations and real-time reactive management and maintenance can be enabled. At the same time, digital solutions allow data-driven preventative adjustments to be made as part of the proactive management of systems.
One example is Yorkshire Water’s Hadfield smart water network pilot - a game-changing pilot project developed with significant investment from Yorkshire Water Services (YWS). The utility is running a proof of concept, smart networks pilot in Hadfield and Loxley over the next 12 months, with the aim to revolutionise their approach to leak management and supply interruption reduction.
This urban area, with a population of around 20,000, was selected as YWS has already deployed a wide range of sensors and meters (~3,800), including smart digital meters, acoustic and hydrophone loggers, temperature, pressure and water quality sensors.
Xylem has deployed 1,500 of its Sensus-branded non-household smart meters connected via its FlexNet communication network. Using Arqiva’s dedicated private spectrum for Yorkshire Water, avoids the susceptibility and interference of sharing the spectrum with other users and applications, whilst uniquely and reliably providing coverage to meters in hard-to-reach locations such as deeper parts of buildings and meter pits.
The Hadfield smart water network pilot is a multi-stakeholder collaboration, with over 15 vendors, Xylem’s data monitoring and analytics platform, View was selected to improve data visibility and provide critical insights.
Xylem’s ViewTM platform will:
- Provide an interactive browser-based User Interface (UI) for data display and querying
- Provide DMA level water balance analytics
- Monitor, validate, and if appropriate, trigger alarms on data streams
- Provide an interactive alert management interface, allowing events detected from multiple sources to be clustered using the platform’s analytics to provide improved prioritisation
- Enable the predicted impact of any network interventions on customers to be assessed
- Provide customised reporting to align with YWS’s organisational roles
The disruptive and innovative pilot will present rich data from new and existing sources in an integrated, single visualisation platform. The platform uses machine learning and AI to cluster data sets and remove false positives to accurately inform asset and operational decision making.
The analytics system will use historical data to understand the signals that precede incidents, such as pressure transients in the pipe. Where transients in the network are identified, YWS can use this data to identify the source. Once completed, a review of the network operation would be conducted to avoid any future issues and to help YWS optimise processes, extend asset life and even inform infrastructure planning; key competencies for strengthening resilience in the round.
The cloud-based system will help meet YWS Outcome Delivery Incentives (ODI’s) mainly leakage, per capita consumption (PCC), supply interruptions, customer measure of experience (C-MeX) and bursts per km, together with vision and values. YWS have developed a framework for assessing the success of the pilot, covering aspects from telecommunications and accuracy of data, through to the performance of the platform to display data and provide analytics, through to meeting the ODI’s put in place by Ofwat for AMP7.
Proactive utilities across the globe are benefiting from such smart water solutions:
- Thames Water has achieved the industry’s biggest reduction in leakage this century. Round-the clock data from nearly 450,000 smart meters across the capital has helped Britain’s largest water company find and repair a record number of leaks, hit its regulatory target and reduce overall leakage from its 20,000 mile network of pipes by 15 per cent in one year.
- South Australia Water integrated 400+ sensors and analytics to identify and proactively fix leaks before they impact customers.
- Park City Utah’s smart technology identified 1.1 MLD of leakage at a cost of $57k.
- A private utility in Singapore implemented sensors and analytics to quickly detect, locate and mitigate large magnitude, damaging pressure transients, saving approximately $15 million.
Being smart with water
Scalable, smart network solutions can be customised to different customer needs. Modular solutions allow utilities to select the functions they need to tackle the problems they are facing, whilst being scalable to meet the changing needs over time. Leakage management teams can benefit from their existing data sources whilst enriching with newer data sources to allow deeper insights to be drawn by layer data for more context.
Key benefits of adopting smart water solutions:
- Provide an improved, proactive service to customers, by mitigating potential interruptions before customer is impacted
- Improve overall business performance by using data to provide actionable intelligence.
Disruptive, forward-thinking utilities, such as YWS, understand the true value and cost benefit of piloting such smart technology.
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