How smart solutions can help to optimise performance by predicting the future

How smart solutions can help to optimise performance by predicting the future

Sector: Water Utilities

Challenge: Optimising Performance 

Increasingly tight regulations – and intensifying oversight from government ministers – means the pressure is mounting on water utilities to address combined sewer overflows spills and internal and external sewer flooding. 

Reducing environmental impact is an ongoing challenge for the industry, but a suite of solutions can optimise performance at all stages of the water cycle. The latest technology, combined with the most effective assets, uses the data available to provide better insights and analysis and offers tighter controls at every step. The result is increased efficiency and safety, and minimised potential for leakages or polluting spills – helping to boost regulatory compliance.

Modelling clean water treatment before installation

Xylem's market-leading Wedeco brand offers chemical-free, environmentally friendly solutions for clean water treatment, including high-efficiency ozone and UV solutions. More than 99.99% of all pathogens can be neutralised in a fraction of a second without affecting taste or smell.

For aging plants in need of a dry run before installation, these solutions can be coupled with computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modelling to predict flow fields and hydraulic behaviour prior to operation. This was the case in Gothenburg where a model of the UV reactor and final piping arrangement was created before the new UV stage was added to the 62-year-old plant, to provide data on performance to ensure the optimal settings were achieved prior to operation. 

To fully optimise performance, the self-wiping system works without chemical cleaning additives and the long-life UV lamps further reduce costs by employing variable power bulbs that offer average energy savings of up to 20%.

‘The eyes and ears’ of clean water networks

With water sources becoming increasingly stressed as both demand and impacts of climate change increase, solutions to proactively identify and rapidly respond to issues within the aging delivery network can save utilities valuable time, money and reputational damage. 

Data on network operation and performance is generated by a wide variety of systems and assets, in different formats and may be of differing quality, making collation and assessment a difficult and laborious task for engineers and scientists, thus limiting the ability of the planning team to schedule maintenance or remedial works against incipient or early stage events. 

For example, data on pressure transients, acoustics and water quality can be used to provide actionable decision intelligence highlighting a leak or break, to identify points of high stress indicative of a potential leak and to assess water age within the network a key indicator of residual disinfection and wholesomeness. By compiling this disparate data, automatically assessing its quality and then analysing and presenting it in an accessible and intuitive format, teams can make informed decisions based on real-time information.

In Hadfield, a successful pilot with Yorkshire Water has harnessed data from thousands of smart digital meters as well as temperature, pressure, and water quality sensors to transform the way leaks are managed by allowing pro-active adjustments to be made to prevent incipient issues.

Deeper analysis and insight for wastewater networks 

As utilities seek better understanding and control of their assets in order to reduce their environmental impact, optimising capacity and performance of wastewater networks is paramount. Coupled to energy efficiency and reducing costs among the key drivers for today’s water leaders, digital solutions like  Xylem’s WWNOcan help enhance operations at a significantly lower cost.

This  technology is capable of monitoring, predicting and acting in real time, thanks to its combination of sensor monitoring data, traditional hydraulic models, and machine learning tools. Additionally, the latter means the longer the system is used, the more effective it becomes. It iis  a vital tool in helping to drastically reduce sewer overflows and detect blockages to minimise flooding events and ensure regulatory compliance - bringing between three and ten times return on investment for utilities.

Lowering costs of wastewater treatment

Smart solutions coupled with additional monitoring can facilitate data-driven decision-making in order to optimise performance on any treatment process from chemical dosing to biological treatment. Xylem's TSO for treatment plant optimisation allows utilities to leverage decision intelligence, using data to optimise processes and reduce energy use.

In Cuxhaven, German utility company EWE used Xylem’s AI technology to create a real-time digital twin of the entire plant, including virtual sensors developed to estimate the incoming carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous loads of the influent. This system enabled plant performance to be optimised while maintaining or improving effluent water quality, ensuring concentrations of nutrients in the effluent remained within legal discharge limits. 

Removing the guesswork for utilities

A two-step approach – collating data via sensors distributed throughout the network and treatment plant ecosystem, and software systems that can be married to existing set-ups – then interpreting it with the help of artificial intelligence can remove the guesswork for today’s water leaders. 

Xylem’s smart solutions and decision intelligence can provide predictions for responses to future situations, an approach that can be a valuable step forward in identifying issues before they happen.

By harnessing the data available throughout their infrastructure, water leaders can manage each asset more efficiently with an emphasis on predictive maintenance, meaning each process can be enhanced and penalties can be avoided.

by Andrew Welsh, Sales Director - Water Utilities, Xylem Water Solutions UK