How to bake a connected water network
Rik Gunderson, utility client director at Software AG, tells us how to "bake" a smart water network.
During lockdown, you may have learned how to bake, or at least sharpened your latent cooking skills. You have seen that if you follow a simple recipe and have the right ingredients, baking can be relatively successful.
But it can also be messy work; you have to keep your hands clean, wipe countertops, wash the pots and pans. Still, I bet you don’t give a moment’s thought to the freely flowing water coming from your taps.
Without that water, baking would be a lot harder. Like baking, a water network may seem simple at first, but there is a long list of ingredients that go into making it that way. When following a recipe, the skill of the baker is less important than the ingredients and recipe. The same holds true for baking a connected (also known as smart or intelligent) water network.
A connected water network, one that controls leaks, reduces costs and generally gives you an excellent customer experience, has an even longer list of ingredients; it takes managed water sources, pipelines, meters, pumps, sensors, chemicals, dryers, communication units, device management, analytics, integration, decision-making and more.
Most importantly, it takes a great recipe to put it all together, using the right equipment, and a very good idea of what you want to see come out of the oven.
In the UK water industry, you want to see:
- Lower operational and maintenance costs
- Exceptional customer experience
- Efficient use of available resources – water, people and energy
- Visibility and control across the entire network for remote operation and business continuity
Reviewing the situation
The benefits above can only be achieved by making you water network smarter. This requires data, to provide more transparency and “situational awareness,” in order to make better, more effective decisions and also to automate processes.
With AMP7 (the seventh Asset Management Period relevant to the UK water industry) water networks are going to generate more data from more devices than ever before. This presents a challenge in transmitting, processing and storing this data - and an opportunity as it can lead to significant improvements in asset life, energy consumption, risk, continuity and people’s time.
Here the ingredients you need to bake a smarter water network:
- An IoT platform for device and application management to connect existing and new data points within the same layer
- Integration and API management to make the data available to the people, processes and applications that will benefit from it - and make it available to external stakeholders who will consume it
- Analytics at the edge and / or in the core to make decisions in real-time based on what is happening - and based on historical situations and trends
- Smart rules for required actions or decisions that have arisen from insights so workflow can be automated as much as possible.
A smarter water network is a journey and not necessarily a destination; it can be achieved in small, incremental steps – like putting together a recipe. Even the addition of a few extra, smarter ingredients can massively change how your water network runs.
Early this month, WWT and Software AG held a webinar which examined how utility companies can improve their performance (for example by making ageing assets ageless) by implementing a data integration strategy that understands ‘context’ to create a genuinely Smart Water Network.
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