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.