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SewerBatt™ from acoustic sensing technology

South West Water combines innovative acoustic survey techniques with Azure platform analytics

SewerBatt™
Monday, November 14th, 2016

“Using the SewerBatt™ acoustic technology quickly tells us where problems are on our waste water network, and just as importantly where there are not. Knowing where to focus our efforts over a 15,000-kilometre network is invaluable.”

Mark Worsfold, Director of Asset Management, South West Water

South West Water provides reliable, efficient and high quality drinking water and waste water services throughout Cornwall and Devon and in small areas of Dorset and Somerset.

Results:

  • Significant time savings
  • Measurable operational efficiency gains
  • Rapid reporting & decision making
  • Predictive insights
  • Improved customer service
  • Reduced flooding risk

Industry:

  • Utilities: Water

Country:

  • UK

Technology Environment:

  • Microsoft Azure IoT Suite
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • SewerBatt Vision™

South West Water is responsible for the region’s drinking water, sewerage systems and bathing waters. Since the company’s inception in 1989 it has worked hard to bring a neglected water system into line with stringent UK and European Union standards.

Surveying a 15,000-kilometre network

Owing to budget constraints, water companies typically survey less than 1% of their waste water network each year; South West Water was looking for a way to increase its surveying capacity within the existing budget. Current pipe surveying methods include CCTV cameras or using high pressure jets, so the challenge was to find the most efficient way to identify the problem areas within the millions of metres of drainage under their control.

Acoustic data stored on an Azure platform

To answer this problem, Acoustic Sensing Technology Ltd (ASTL), developed SewerBatt™ a rapid and accurate way of assessing the serviceability of drains, sewers and other pipe networks using acoustic signatures. In order to efficiently process and analyse the survey data generated by the SewerBatt™, ASTL needed a suitable cloud platform. Through Microsoft they teamed up with New Signature and using the Azure IoT Suite and Power BI, New Signature developed a cloud-based analysis platform for ASTL – SewerBatt Vision™. ASTL now has a product that offers both global scalability and can deliver fantastic value for its clients. “Over time, we can envisage how certain pipes might perform in the future and predict where problems may occur before the customer alerts us that something is wrong,” explains Mark Worsfold.

Reducing survey time from one hour to two minutes

SewerBatt™ hardware is able to complete a rapid survey of a pipe up to 100 metres in length in just two minutes; with survey files uploaded to SewerBatt Vision™ for immediate auto-analysis and identification of problems. “CCTV will usually survey 100 to 400 metres a day, whereas we are covering 600 to 1000 metres a day with SewerBatt™. I just looked on the Azure platform, and we achieved 1200 metres with one person yesterday – that gives you an idea of the uplift in productivity,” says Dave Cockerill, Business Development Director, ASTL.

South West Water is now able to survey a much larger area of its pipe network for the same budget and ASTL report that from the pilot study and some initial results, clients are typically seeing 20-30% savings. Mark Worsfold comments, “We could take that saving as a manpower reduction, however we’re choosing to take it in terms of improved performance.”

Dashboard shows performance of assets

For South West Water, moving to the Vision™ platform’s dashboard, has enabled it to manage its network in a new way – both in real time and more strategically. “A dashboard to show where your maintenance teams need to go is pretty valuable on a day-to-day basis,” explains Dave Cockerill.

Averting flooding and pollution

“We’re discovering impacts that could potentially cause flooding and pollution to the environment. Data shows how pipes will perform in the future, prompting us to intervene earlier. There has always been a desire to remove flooding and pollution issues; now new regulations mean there are stronger financial incentives around making that happen and delivering better services to our customers.”

Mark Worsfold, Director of Asset Management, South West Water

“Utilising the Azure platform for our Vision™ analytics product is adding real benefit to us and the client. We are now able to manage the significant volumes of valuable data produced by SewerBatt™, where previously we’d been using spreadsheets. It’s incredibly efficient with little manual input and within minutes of connecting to the internet a survey appears on SewerBatt Vision™ providing immediate insight,” comments Nathan Muggeridge, Delivery Director, ASTL.

“SewerBatt™ allows us to understand the condition of our assets ahead of them actually blocking. This is a lead measure that tells us where we should focus our efforts before failure occurs,” says Mark Worsfold.

The impact on the future of the water industry

Mark Worsfold concludes, “Whilst SewerBatt™ is already widely used as a piece of hardware, the whole water industry will be looking closely to see how this works; South West Water is the first company to roll this out with the Azure-based SewerBatt Vision™ platform.”

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