Industry firsts are happening at South East Water as part of a digital water meter trial which could revolutionise the way the water industry detects and prevents leaks.
The Kent-based company, which supplies 2.2 million customers in parts of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, is the first utility in England to have a full NBIoT (Narrowband Internet of Things) commercial agreement in place with Vodafone UK.
It will use the partnership to transmit data for analysis from digital water meters at 2,000 homes in the trial area, as well as information from other network sensors.
In addition, a collaboration with ATi and Syrinix is the first time data from both their pressure and water quality monitors have been combined into one data set for analysis.
South East Water’s Operations Director, Dr Simon Earl, said: “In total, this trial has brought together nine specialist companies in their respective fields to test the latest cutting edge digital water meters, sensors, advanced analytics and telecommunications channels.
“If successful, it has the potential to alert us to the smallest leaks on both our and our customers’ pipes soon after they occur, and could even enable us to predict and prevent pipeline failure before it happens.
“The data received at regular intervals from the digital meters and sensors within our trial area could revolutionise the way we look for and prevent leaks in the future, further reducing interruptions to supply, reducing the water we take from the environment and increasing the resilience of the service we provide to our customers.
“It represents a step change in the efficiency of providing this digital information as it doesn’t require the often prohibitive costs of installing new apparatus such as radio masts to transmit local data back to a central point.”
Anne Sheehan, Director, Vodafone Business, said: “We are really excited to be partnering South East Water on this project. Narrowband Internet of Things technology has the power to transform the utilities sector. It enables a more accurate and efficient method of identifying and preventing leaks, helping companies like South East Water meet important regulatory and environmental standards. It is a perfect example of how technology can be used to create a more sustainable future and manage what is an increasingly precious commodity.”
ATi's Managing Director Europe, Dr Mike Strahand (aka Dr Chlorine), said: "This project is a significant step forward; it is the first time all the layers needed for a smart water network have been brought together. It is a fantastic example of the multi-stakeholder collaboration that is 100 per cent necessary to make smart water happen."
Syrinix CEO, James Dunning, said: “We are delighted to be working with South East Water and its partners on what is such a landmark project. As utilities grapple with increasing regulatory pressures, our collaboration with ATI and Visenti on this project for South East Water is truly showing smart networks in practice with its provision of actionable data.”
Dr Simon Earl added: “South East Water has met its leakage target for more than 10 years, but we are not complacent and are committed to using the latest, most innovative technology to drive leakage down further.
“We anticipate by undertaking this trial over the coming year it will give us a solid head start to meeting our commitment to reducing our leakage levels by 15 per cent by 2025.”
Trial partners include: Sensus – a Xylem brand, providing fixed network digital water meters; Visenti – a Xylem brand, providing software analytics; Arqiva, providing fixed network connectivity; Vodafone, providing NBIoT network connectivity; Diehl and Honeywell, both providing NBIoT digital water meters; Syrinix, providing bursts and pressure transient loggers; ATI, providing water quality sensors; Gutermann, providing noise correlating loggers; and Z-Tech supporting the deployment in the field.
ATi is delighted to be working with South East Water, providing it with a bespoke instrumentation solution that best fits its individual requirements.
This project is a significant step forward and is a fantastic example of how multi-stakeholder collaboration is helping to drive forward the concept of smart water networks.
As one of the world's largest specialist metering and data solutions providers, manufacturing across Europe, Diehl focus on producing superb quality solutions utilising industry leading (OMS) radio, M-Bus and IoT technologies, which meet the challenges of our customers in an ever changing, demanding environment.
Diehl Metering is delighted to be working with South East Water in successfully delivering the largest NBIoT smart water network trial in the UK. We understand the value of working with our customers to tailor solutions for the UK water utilities and their customers.
GUTERMANN is a global leader and innovator in intelligent water loss and leak detection technology. Particularly with its flagship product ZONESCAN ALPHA; a fully automatic, correlating and pinpointing network monitoring system that helps utilities identify leaks reliably and fix them in a short time
GUTERMANN and South East Water have enjoyed a close relationship for many years, with South East Water using a number of GUTERMANN's AQUASCAN correlators and more recently over a thousand ZONESCAN 820 noise loggers for leakage surveys. GUTERMANN will shortly be launching an industry first, NB-IoT correlating noise logger for water networks. NB-IoT (Narrow-band Internet of Things) will provide improved reception for underground applications, with significantly longer battery life and more reliable connectivity than 2G and 3G. The NB-IoT logger will be implemented for the first time in the UK with South East Water within its trial, monitoring its distribution networks and providing it with automatic correlating leak results this autumn.
Honeywell surpasses smart metering with Connected Utility solutions that effectively measure, monitor and respond to utility operations from edge to cloud.
Our water, electricity and gas solutions put valuable, actionable data in the hands of utilities to better serve customers. They enable improved performance, greater reliability and significant cost savings. Honeywell considers South East Water as a key partner in developing the next generation of smart water meters and is working closely with SEW in providing an NBIoT smart metering solution.
Sensus – a Xylem company
For the pilot system, South East Water needed to integrate data gathered by multiple sensor and meter technologies via three different communications networks; FlexNet, NB-IoT and 3G/4G cellular. Existing databases for billing systems, resource management software and a customer engagement portal also needed access to the data. To facilitate this, a central management system was specified that was flexible enough to interface seamlessly to the wide variety of systems and powerful enough to handle the vast quantities of data collected. In addition, the system needed to ensure the validity of the data and provide alarm notifications, advanced network analytics and leak detection functionality. After investigating potential solutions available in the market, the View® platform from Visenti, a Xylem brand, was selected and is now successfully operating in the South East Water data centre, providing the management, control and reporting functionality required.
The FlexNet communication network from Sensus, a Xylem brand, is the most widely deployed Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for smart water networks in the UK, having been specifically optimised to provide reliable connectivity while ensuring the longest possible battery life in the smart meter. As part of the pilot programme, it provides secure and reliable connectivity to 1,800 meters located primarily underground, outside residential properties in the area.
Syrinix, provide pressure transient monitoring enabling South East Water to gain valuable insight of the operation of its network. The ability to detect pressure transients, bursts, network anomalies and locate any unstable activity, means utility managers can understand in real time what is happening and manage any operational response required.
In this ground-breaking project, Vodafone is providing Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) connectivity to connect customers’ smart digital water meters, sensors and acoustic loggers on underground mains water pipes. This enables data to be transmitted and analysed, offering a more accurate way of identifying and preventing leaks. NB-IoT operates within a very narrow radio band frequency and provides wider coverage and deeper penetration than traditional networks - even underground or within buildings. It also operates in a way that reduces consumption for battery powered devices in the field, such as water meters and sensors, so that they can last ten years and beyond.
As part of South East Water’s industry leading NB-IoT trial, Z-Tech worked in a multi-partner collaborative project to install over two thousand smart meters from a number of different suppliers. The project had multiple challenges in retrofitting new technologies into the meter asset base but this was managed by the multiple-contractors working together seamlessly and allowing South East Water to ultimately use the data to serve the customer and work towards the dgital transformation of the water industry.