A joint Primayer - Anglian Water project has seen leakage reduction of 1.4 million litres of water per day in targeted areas. Primayer’s managing director Roger Ironmonger explains how new technology and close collaboration led to the fantastic results.
Leakage remains one of the biggest concerns for the water industry – in the UK about 20% of water supplied is lost through leaks. After setting some tough targets for the 2020-2025 investment period, regulator Ofwat is expecting companies to adopt new tools and techniques to tackle it.
The regulator said in its Emerging Strategy report that new technologies were “essential to increase productivity and meet strategic challenges in the most cost-effective way” – and in its latest price review, it also called for “collaboration between utilities and business”.
Primayer has collaborated with Anglian Water on a game-changing leakage project, that has resulted in a 1.4 million litre per day reduction in the areas where work has completed – a 35% shift in those areas.
As a leakage specialist, Primayer’s research and development team works with utilities and their partners to develop best-in-class technologies. The team has been collaborating particularly closely with Anglian Water, which aims to reduce leakage by a further 22% across its network in AMP7, going above and beyond the target set by Ofwat. Anglian is already at the forefront of the water industry in tackling leakage – with half the amount of water lost to leaks compared to any other water company.
In collaborating, the two teams wanted to develop new leak detection technology to increase efficiency, save time, free-up staff and improve conversion rates.
After detailing a joint brief with Anglian Water, Primayer decided to develop its existing noise correlation technology. The result was the Enigma3hyQ, a multi-point noise correlation system that uses immersed acoustic hydrophone sensors, that in essence “listen” to sound waves inside the pipe to pinpoint leaks.
The hydrophone sensors are placed permanently into the pipe at convenient fittings such as fire hydrants or dedicated access points. This means greater sensitivity, resulting in more leaks being found more quickly. It returns all data from underground transmitters via cellular communication networks 3G or GPRS – there is no need to negotiate with local authorities over above-ground street hardware.
It will also result in quicker and easier repairs – meaning less disruption to customers.
Initial trials with Anglian, on 40km of mains in the town of Louth, Lincolnshire, showed the sensors were effective in accurately finding leaks over long distances of up to 4.6m, and inside pipes made from a large range of materials, including plastic.
This was a breakthrough - one of the biggest challenges faced across the industry is the ability to detect leaks on plastic pipes. This is because the noise that plastic pipes emit when they leak is greatly damped even over small distances from the leak, making the signal hard to detect and correlate.
The development has been called a game changer by Anglian Water’s smart water strategy manager Andy Smith, who said it would “revolutionise what we do in terms of leakage”.
The system is now being rolled-out across Anglian’s whole network with the first installation of 3,500 loggers well underway – another 1,000 will follow.
High conversion rate
So far, 2,023 loggers have been installed and 1,325 leaks found from 1,600 potential leak locations identified. This represents a conversion rate of 83%, which is exceptionally high.
Richard Fielding, hydraulic optimisation engineer at Anglian Water, said: “The consistent performance from the Enigma3hyQ is enabling us to make a real step-change in how we manage leakage. In addition to locating previously undetectable leaks on plastic pipes, we are improving the service we provide our customers by detecting and repairing leaks before they become visible.
“The permanent nature of this technology also increases our efficiency by allowing us to prioritise the deployment of our detection teams to the parts of our network with the highest need, resulting in reduced travel time, increased productivity and a reduction of the associated health and safety risks of routine leakage detection surveys.”
The significant reduction in leakage across Anglian Water’s network shows how much can be achieved when the supply chain and water companies work closely together to develop new solutions. With Anglian’s first roll-out of loggers well underway – with more to follow - a rapid uptake of this revolutionary technology worldwide is anticipated.
The Enigma3hyQ loggers transmit daily leak noise data to Primayer’s server via the 3G or GPRS communication networks. Correlation is performed automatically every 24 hours on signals received from many loggers in order to locate leak positions accurately.
The user can listen to the recorded noise, helping to confirm that correlation results are due to leak noise. The data is available at any location, on any desktop or mobile device, via PrimeWeb, Primayer’s cloud-based data collection software.
Ensuring Anglian Water meets its targets is very much a collaboration. Primayer is one of 10 companies jointly awarded the framework agreement, and the Enigma3hyQ noise correlating loggers form a key part of the leakage strategy.
More information available at: www.primayer.com
“Be your authentic self” – message to women working in water
Turner & Townsend director Tania Flasck shares insights and advice from her own experience ahead of British Water’s Women in Water event
Just 20% of the workforce in the UK water industry is female* – an imbalance the sector is working hard to correct. British Water is leading the way with its second Women in Water event, taking place in Manchester in October.
Tania Flasck, director and head of UK infrastructure at Turner & Townsend, the global professional services consultancy, will be among the speakers. Turner & Townsend is also event sponsor. With over 25 years’ water and utilities experience, Tania is passionate about supporting women in the sector. Here, she shares some insights and tells us why Women in Water is so important.
Why do we need events like Women in Water?
Events like this are hugely important because they provide a safe forum for women to be open about challenges, share their experiences and learn from others. They also provide an opportunity to make good connections, seek out support and grow your network. All of this is valuable for personal development and building confidence.
What do you hope the event will achieve?
I’m expecting some really positive outcomes. We’ll be sharing stories and insights and people should come away with some tools to help them manage their career and balance multiple demands. The previous event was very well received, and this will build on that. We’ve looked at the feedback and requests from the earlier event and will be drilling into some specific topics, such as career goals and confidence building.
What can we expect from the presentations and workshops?
All the speakers are aiming to make the event hands-on and engaging. The day won’t just be one-way dialogue, it will be mainly workshop-style, so fast-paced and hopefully fun. We’ve got a lot to pack in. We’ll all be talking candidly about our experiences and learning and sharing. Inevitably, there will be some great connections made, as there were last time.
What advice would you give women about to enter the water industry?
I’ve got three bits of advice:
Don’t try and be something you’re not - be your authentic self. Leverage your strengths and focus on what you can do well. Don’t dwell on your weaknesses.
Take pride in what you do. Water is a really amazing sector; it truly sustains life. You’ll be making a real difference and I’ve found being part of that so satisfying.
Be open to new challenges. You might automatically think you can’t do something, when you actually can. I see this a lot in people. If you have an opportunity presented to you, always consider it and try to take it. You will always get help and support along the way. Don’t be afraid.
And what would you say to women who don’t feel they’re getting the right career support?
One of the most common things I see is people not asking for help, not reaching out to others. Talk to someone you trust and tell them about the situation, to get an objective view. It’s easy to jump to assumptions about people’s intent but this is often misplaced, so a fresh perspective can be important. If you still don’t feel supported, think through your options, talk these through, create some space to think - clear your mind by going for a walk or doing something different. Think how you can turn the situation around. Think carefully and don’t jump to conclusions or make snap decisions. Nine times out of 10, the real issue is communication, or a lack of. Positive intent is normally there.
What is being done to address the gender imbalance in the water industry?
I’ve noticed that there is a real desire for change with a lot of sharing between companies. The gender imbalance is not going to be fixed overnight but the intent is there, as is a real commitment, from what I can see in most organisations. We need to continue to share approaches across the sector. I sit on the Highways England Supplier Diversity Forum, which includes contractors and consultants, and collaborating in this way is very powerful.
What can be done to encourage more young women to take up STEM careers?
I’m passionate about starting to engage as early as possible. Role models are so important. I was lucky to have a great role model in my mum, who was a forklift truck training instructor. She had a great career in a massively male-dominated world and she loved it. There should be obvious focus on primary and secondary education, and key is normalising all careers with no gender bias or stereotyping. Subtle messaging from teachers and parents makes a real difference, and storytelling can be very powerful. Social media can help with this.
Finally, organisations like ourselves have a huge role in outreach. At Turner & Townsend, we actively encourage all staff to take part in corporate responsibility community work to help with role model visibility. Even if you influence one person, it’s been a success.
What kind of support have you received that has made a difference to your career?
Coaches, sponsors and mentors have all been critical to my career. The late Dr Stephen Bird, who we sadly lost recently, was managing director of South West Water and was one of my first bosses. He intimidated me initially, but I respected him hugely. He was an absolute rock and would always challenge me in a constructive way to think differently. I would not have been able to address some of the challenges in my career without his sage advice.
Finally, what do you hope to get from Women in Water?
I’m really looking forward to learning, sharing, getting involved and making some new connections.
Tania will lead workshops on networking and confidence building at Women in Water.
When: Wed, 16 October 2019, 10am-6pm
Where: MWH Treatment, The Soapworks, Colgate Lane, Salford Quays, Manchester M5 3LZ
More details and to book: https://www.britishwater.co.uk/events/women-in-water-467.aspx
* Figure taken from Energy & Utility Skills https://www.euskills.co.uk/about/our-industries/water/
The water sector should be at the forefront of the UK’s artificial intelligence and data revolution, according to Ofwat.
In its Driving Transformational Innovation report, the regulator set out high expectations when it comes to data and analytics. This, along with tough regulatory targets and the exceptional challenges arising from climate change and population growth, means effective use of data analytics has never been more critical for water.
Joe Roebuck, a director at analytics innovator SEAMS, will be chairing Data: Now & Beyond, a British Water event taking place in Leeds in October. He said: “The water sector has been set some unprecedented targets for the upcoming years, all while achieving a reduction in customers’ bills - never before has the term ‘more for less’ been so important.
“Data analytics is fast becoming one of the most important means of innovation by which to meet these targets. It will help us achieve what may seem like the impossible. Data: Now & Beyond provides an opportunity discuss best practice but more importantly to look ahead at ways to tackle tomorrow’s challenges.”
Speakers from water companies, the supply chain and other sectors – including from Ofgem and Network Rail – will share information on the best way to handle data and analytics, including what tools and services are available.
Among those taking part will be Kevin Parry, head of data at Welsh Water, who said some organisations may need to develop skills and resources further, if they are to truly leverage the capability offered through data and analytics.
He said: “The improvement in data capture and sensor technology will provide us with huge datasets that can be used to help analyse the performance of our network and allows us to predict how extraneous factors may impact it.
“With this ‘data deluge’ comes a need to ensure we have the skilled resources in place to translate this into information to provide valuable insight and the availability of new approaches, such as digital twins, will help us better understand our network.
“Data: Now & Beyond will provide a forum for colleagues to reflect on some of our greatest challenges, and to identify ways in which data and analytics could be applied to overcome these. “
This will be British Water’s third data conference, following successful events in 2017 and 2018.
Dr Mar Barista, technical manager at British Water, said: “Water and wastewater companies collect, process and report on huge volumes of data. Following the release of Ofwat’s draft determinations and the challenges set in terms of cost and performance commitments, it is the right time to look at the innovative use of data and analytics that will help achieve high expectations from regulators and consumers.”
The event will also include:
Radical change is needed if the water industry is to meet the serious challenges it is now facing, a British Water event heard.
With climate change, population growth and changing customer expectation already driving transformation, more needs to happen – and closer collaboration, while removing barriers to innovation, is key.
John Russell, Ofwat’s senior director of strategy & planning, said: “The sector needs to be bigger and bolder in its approach. The supply chain is crucial in ensuring the sector delivers the outcomes we all want to see, and collaboration is key. It’s exciting that so many conversations have started. It feels like we’re on the verge of something big.”
Russell was among speakers at British Water’s Building Collaboration in the Water Industry event, supported by Ofwat and Xylem.
Over 100 delegates from across the industry gathered at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London including representatives from eight water companies and from across the supply chain. Eight also attended from Ofwat and speakers from the Consumer Council for Water and Department for International Trade made presentations.
Delegates agreed a “paradigm shift” was needed and closer working across the industry could have tangible benefits in many areas:
National innovation platform
Richard Collard, senior associate, strategy and policy, Ofwat, said: “Ofwat is pro innovation and innovation does not happen in a vacuum. What are the barriers to innovating in the sector? Do we need a centre of excellence, or a catalyst hub? Could we share data better? Shifts happens when lots of people in a room think of new ideas. “
Alignment of pilot projects
The question was asked, could the sector work together more closely on pilots? Albert Cho, vice president and general manager of advanced infrastructure analytics, Xylem, said: “How do we make co-ordination better? There is something difficult about the repetitive nature of trials happening at the same time.
“There is a yearning for a coordinated approach but a fear of a loss of control. There is a balance between centralisation and empowerment.”
Create opportunities for smaller organisations
Smaller companies could be more agile and have fresh ideas but might struggle to get their feet in the door, the event heard.
Jimmy Carter, Department for International Trade, said: “There are so many clever ideas. We need to promote and adopt those ideas in the UK market first if we are going to convince people to trade with us. SMEs are less able to turn their ideas into reality. If you want to sell something overseas, you need to demonstrate you’ve done it someone else so, a message to water companies – be more proactive in adopting these innovations.”
Russell said: “The future is already here. There are technologies out there to address some of the issues but how do you get things out of the lab and into pilot phase? I’ll be thinking about access for smaller companies to help get them access to the bidding process. We need diversity. Not just the same old, same old.”
Water scarcity messaging
It was agreed awareness of water scarcity must increase, and a joint voice is stronger.
Jason Howlett, managing director, Xylem, said: “We must reinforce the importance of water as an essential element of life. There is a growing threat to that service. We are in a period of the most significant change we’ve ever had in the country. The threats around us are the biggest they’ve been - but it’s also an opportunity. This is our time to create these new solutions.”
Reflecting on the day, Lila Thompson, chief executive, British Water, said she hoped delegates would take away some concrete actions: “It has been a privilege to host so many people from across the industry. The numbers show there is a genuine desire for closer collaboration.
“Some great ideas for greater cooperation and innovation have been shared, such as the creation of a national innovation platform, and British Water is keen that this enables our members to get access to funds to take ideas forward with key stakeholders in the industry.
“It’s a challenging time for the sector but there are also new opportunities to explore, so let’s engage the industry to respond to the Ofwat consultation on Emerging Strategy and innovation. Let’s help make a difference and keep talking to change the way we do things for future generations.”