Advances in technology, including miniature sensors and robotic fish, are leading a rapid advance in online smart monitoring of the quality of water in both municipal and industrial systems across the world.
A new Insight Report from BlueTech® Research* states that water quality issues and monitoring technologies in developing markets are likely to drive double digit global growth in the coming years. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to emerge as the fastest growing market.
The water analysis industry has seen dramatic growth in recent years due to rapid rises in population and increasing concerns over water contamination. The call for safe, clean water has led to tighter, more stringent water quality regulations.
Equipment in a water system can fail, leading to a change in water quality. The use of smart water networks is one way in which utilities are seeking holistic approaches to water management, within which they aim to identify health and operational risks, either before an incident develops or within the shortest possible response time.
New developments in sensor technologies currently focus on two types of technologies:
by Dermot Finn, Commercial Director, Nu Flow
UK utility Yorkshire Water has undertaken the UK’s first trials of an innovative technology for lining sewer pipes. Nu Flow’s Nu Drain cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) liner has only just become available to UK utilities, but has already been applied widely across North America.
The pilot trials were undertaken on drains at four domestic properties in Leeds, Hull and Barnsley in November and December 2014 and involved both clay and pitch-fibre pipes.
Yorkshire Water’s innovation team was first attracted to Nu Drain as a no-dig technology, which fitted with the utility’s ‘green’ initiative.
Bob Watterson, Technical Support Engineer NE region, Yorkshire Water explains,
“We’re looking at no-dig technologies for a lot of the day-to-day operations we carry out. They save time and labour and, for want of a better description, they save the planet.
“By using no-dig, we’re not fuelling excavation vehicles and sending rip-out of the road to landfill and we’re not busying up roads while excavations are carried out. Also, importantly, people are unaware we’re repairing pipes while they travel about above us.”
Case study: Willerby, Hull
CCTV inspection found the pitch-fibre pipe serving four properties in Willerby, Hull, to be in particularly poor shape. The house nearest the main had experienced flooding, where flow had backed up, necessitating regular visits from Yorkshire Water’s sewerage team to keep the line clear.
Nu Flow’s Max Page, one of the two-man crew carrying out the project, described the interior of the combined rainwater and sewer line as “flaking like old newspaper”. Some of the bubble-like deformities in the pipe were up to 30cm in length and the 100mm-diameter pipe was reduced to 50mm in places.
Minimising disruption to the customer is a key part of Yorkshire Water’s community strategy and an important aspect of the pilot. One of the gardens was landscaped, so a no-dig solution like Nu Drain was highly desirable. An over-pumping system was also set up to keep the customers connected to the sewerage system throughout the trial.
Nu Flow’s pneumatic pipe-cleaning tools were introduced into the pitch-fibre sewer to take it back to its original state. The specialist carbide steel ball-head cutters can remove roots, calcite, mortar and cement and reinstate laterals as small as 50mm diameter.
Page said, “Removing the deformities and restoring this pipe without putting big holes in it was very challenging, but it was key to achieving the smooth, clean liner finish we wanted.”
CCTV inspection confirmed the pipe was clear and was also used to take a measurement of the pipe length. Each polyester ‘sock’ liner is cut and impregnated with epoxy resin, known as ‘wetting out’, on site.
The tube was then “rolled like a burrito” around an inflatable bladder to a 50-60mm circumference and taped every 3.5m along its length with masking tape to make the installation easier to carry out. The CIPP is most commonly pulled into the pipe, but on this occasion there was only one access point so the push-rod techniques was used.
With the liner in place and one end sealed, air was forced into the other end of the bladder through a hose. As the bladder inflated, the tape broke and the liner was pressed to the walls of the existing pipe where it was left to cure for two to three hours.
Once the epoxy had hardened, a small piece of the liner was cut out to test it was fully cured and the CCTV passed through again to demonstrate to the client that the pipe was fully opened and clear.
Case study: Barnsley
The pilot project in Barnsley was more straightforward as the CCTV inspection showed that the 150mm clay pipe was clear, so no cleaning needed to be carried out. However, it also revealed a displaced joint some 18m downstream of the manhole.
A 1m section of the pipe had dropped down 50mm, causing the flow to slow and toilet paper waste to stick in the pipe, causing blockages. The sewer had to be accessed via a manhole at the rear of the house where access was restricted.
Using the same push-rod technique, a 2m length of liner was installed from the manhole, smoothing over the lip of the sunken joint. CCTV inspection showed a successful lining and the flow now passes smoothly over the displaced joint, staying clear of blockages.
Watterson is delighted with the results of the trials and says Nu Flow’s lining systems are likely to play a key role in meeting the utility’s needs, especially on renovating the smaller diameter, householder side of the network, in the coming months and years.
Some 22,000km of private sewers and lateral drains that had previously belonged to Yorkshire Water’s customers was added to the utility’s asset base with the transfer of private sewers legislation in 2011. The previously unmapped pipes and gullies are of variable quality, often at small diameters and not necessarily in the best state of repair.
“It’s a harsh environment we’re asking these technologies to work in,” Watterson says. “It’s under water, it’s under pressure.
“The traditional way to repair a lateral connected to a gully is to excavate on the gully and put an accessible gully point in downstream of it, then install a new gully pot. Nu Flow can line round the bend of the existing gully pot in situ, minimising disruption.”
Watterson concludes, “This is particularly innovative and we’ve been looking for a technology that can do this. As a forward-thinking company, we really don’t want to have to excavate.”
Yorkshire is carrying out further trials with a view to rolling Nu Flow out across its entire network. Watterson says that once due diligence has been carried out, the next stage would be to let the utility’s technicians and service partners know that they will be expected to use Nu Flow technologies.
The pipelining specialist is so confident in the performance of its product that it is offering trials UK-wide. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nu Flow technician Max Page undertakes CCTV monitoring of a domestic gully with limited access points during a trial in Leeds.
View a video of Nu Flow’s Nu Drain pipeline rehabilitation process
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Natasha Wiseman, WiseOnWater
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Nu Flow, Unit H2, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland
WPL Miranda RBC makes UK wastewater debut
Onsite wastewater treatment specialist WPL has brought a highly efficient rotating biological contactor (RBC) to the UK commercial, industrial and municipal market for the first time. The WPL Miranda RBC, which is manufactured to German design standards, has been available internationally for the last five years, but an exclusive UK distribution agreement was recently signed with WPL.
Utilities and a variety of commercial premises - including hotels, office blocks and industrial developments - can require package wastewater treatment plants on site.
The WPL Miranda RBC is an environmentally friendly system, which operates without chemicals and exceeds Environment Agency discharge standards.
The units are suitable for permanent installation or can be hired where temporary treatment is required. They can be used for specifications from 100 up to 20,000 people.
WPL’s Sales & Marketing Director, Simon Kimber, explained the advantages of the system, “This next generation RBC technology uses solid shafts designed to overcome any issues with shaft failure, resulting in lower whole-life costs for operators. Its flexible modular design means that it can be configured to serve communities ranging from 100 upwards population equivalent.”
In WPL’s Miranda RBC secondary treatment system, disks are connected to a shaft and slowly rotated by means of a motor. Each rotating disc spends 40% of its time in the wastewater and 60% in contact with air.
Repetitive rotation allows the discs to accumulate micro-organisms, which use the available oxygen to convert the pollutants in the wastewater into carbon dioxide and water. Simon Kimber says that the WPL Miranda is a significant step-up from RBC treatment systems previously available in the UK.
“Not only do the discs rotate faster,” he says, “the innovative design has turned the traditional disc system around by 90 degrees, so that the flow runs through the rotating discs rather than along them. This increases the surface area of media per square metre and the contact time between the bacteria and the settled sewage, increasing the efficiencies of the process.
“The result is final treated effluent which exceeds the EU standards for discharge and can be safely released into the environment.”
It is important that treatment plants are scaled appropriately for the size of the site and the flow and load anticipated. The modular design of the WPL Miranda RBC makes it possible to increase capacity by adding discs or modules. It is also possible to bypass specified modules to reduce capacity and save energy.
The packaged units are easy to transport and install – reducing onsite health and safety risks – and can operate in series or in parallel. Furthermore the WPL Miranda RBC has been subjected to rigorous FEA analysis, which confirms compliance with all water utilities specifications.
The UK’s RBC market for utilities alone is estimated at £10 million per annum, and Simon Kimber believes there is significant opportunity for WPL to take a share of this and increase its client base.
“We have responded effectively to our customers’ requirements and introduced an improvement to what is currently available in the UK market,” he says. “The WPL Miranda RBC is next generation technology, our competitors are only offering first or second generation. We have recognised marketplace demands and strengthened our portfolio accordingly.”
Finite Element Analysis on the WPL Miranda RBC
WPL Ltd requested TriVista Engineering Ltd carry out Finite Element Analysis on the WPL Miranda RBC to test the structural integrity of the tank. The results of the FEA testing confirms a minimum of 25 years long life.
WPL Ltd is an internationally recognised leader in the design, manufacture and supply of standardised and bespoke environmental sewage, wastewater and commercial kitchen grease management process solutions.
Image caption: The WPL’s Miranda RBC can provide environmentally friendly biological wastewater treatment on residential, commercial and industrial sites
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Marketing Manager, WPL Ltd
DD: +44 (0)2392 242 635
Office: +44 (0)2392 242 600
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Units 1 & 2 Aston Road
Aquamatix brings the Internet of Things to the Basingstoke Canal
The Basingstoke Canal has contracted with Aquamatix, pioneer of the Internet of Things in water, to provide real-time monitoring and control of water resources, to allow the public to access information about the canal, and to reduce energy consumed by canal operations.
The Basingstoke Canal was built in 1792-8, and is now a leisure facility serving the community from the River Wey Navigation near Woking, over 32 miles to Odiham in Hampshire. In order to use a limited water supply as efficiently as possible, while reducing the energy consumed in managing the canal operations, leading-edge technologies from the Internet of Things will be supplied by UK company Aquamatix.
The system will provide a variety of tools for canal rangers to monitor water levels and flows and pumping station activity. Information from the system will also be available to the public via a website, allowing canal users to better enjoy and understand the canal and its environment.
The project has been jointly developed by public agencies including Surrey and Hampshire County Councils, the volunteer sector in the Basingstoke Canal Society, and the private sector in Aquamatix, an SME based in Surrey.
James Taylor, Strategic Manager for the Basingstoke Canal said, “We are delighted that both owning county councils are investing in this leading technology so we can provide a better service to all users of the canal and neighbours. By monitoring and controlling the water in the canal we will improve our control of winter flood waters, whilst reducing canal energy use, and allow more boats to enjoy the beautiful canal environment through more efficient water use in dry summer months.”
Laurie Reynolds, Managing Director of Aquamatix noted, “We are delighted to be working with the Basingstoke Canal in this UK-first implementation of Internet of Things technologies to this unique environment.”
The system will be deployed over the winter, ready for the start of the season in April 2015.
About the Basingstoke Canal Authority
The Basingstoke Canal is jointly owned by Surrey and Hampshire County Councils. The Basingstoke Canal Authority (BCA) manages the Basingstoke Canal as a maintaining agent on behalf of the two County Councils and six riparian borough and district councils. The BCA has no legal or corporate identity itself and the staff of the BCA are employed by Hampshire County Council on behalf of the partnership.
Aquamatix, based in Redhill, Surrey, is pioneering the Internet of Things and new wireless sensor networks in the water industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the connection of real-world devices using standard protocols, allowing monitoring and control of a wide variety of assets, systems, devices or ‘things’.
Aquamatix’s WaterWorX™ platform combines real-time measurements and performance data with asset and GIS data to gain knowledge and understanding of asset condition and system performance. The insight gained can be used to optimise new investment to balance capacity, obsolescence, demand and risk.
Image caption: (Left to right) Laurie Reynolds, Managing Director, Aquamatix; James Taylor, Strategic Manager, Basingstoke Canal; John How, Volunteer, Inland Waterways Association and BCS).
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Offering the right financial mix of products and services is a challenge to any business, but can be critical for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the water industry. The water utility regulator’s five-year Asset Management Period (AMP) cycles have unwittingly produced a well-documented cycle of ‘boom and bust’ for the supply chain.
This can mean few or no utility sales for three to four years, then one or two years worth of sales in six months, all with very tight delivery times and thin margins. The impact of exposure to this flux on cash flow can be catastrophic and has led to significant consolidation within the supply chain and subsequent reduction of competition over the years.
This is certainly the case with companies that are over-reliant on large capital plant sales. However, businesses relying too heavily on lower value, higher turnover parts and consumables can also get into difficulties. This is, firstly, because such provision is demanding on labour and administrative resources, but also because commoditisation can put prices under pressure and cause margins to shrink.
Maintaining the balance of sales and revenue between the plant, parts and service business components, which is never easy for companies, is the way to survive boom and bust. Historically, companies have often shied away from offering service and maintenance, particularly those that have historically been product focused.
Yes - service is labour intensive. Yes - service does not directly deliver the margins that capital plant can. However, an orientation towards service does have some genuine merits: