Innovation - What are we interested in?

HomeInnovation - What are we interested in?

Innovation - What are we interested in?

Innovation is about vision. We have plenty of long term innovation projects, which we believe will have the potential to transform how we manage water. In particular, our aspirational goal for smart water networks is driving much of our innovative thinking.

 

 

Project: Smart water networks                            

Timescales: Over the next five years

 

SES water are committed to a long term goal of creating a smart water network. Currently we gather a lot of information about the water at our Treatment Works (about 40,000 separate sensors) and that information is available within seconds. At the other end of the network, our customers will tell us very quickly if there is a problem with the water. However, we don’t think that we should have to rely on customers telling us about problems. The big issue we have is that in-between the treatment works and the customers is about 3,500 km of mains. We currently have about 1,000 battery operated sensors in this network, but it is both expensive and difficult to get near real time data back from these sensors and then to process it in a timely manner. Based on the Internet of Things networks that we are developing for smart water metering, we are planning a communication network that would allow us to collect near real time data from 10s of thousands of data points scattered throughout the mains network. Coupled with the latest processing techniques like cloud computing and artificial intelligence, we would then have the ability to understand network issues before they affect our customers and take mitigating action. We are already building display capabilities and mobile platforms to allow our staff to view and understand this rich layer of data as we start to gather it.

 

 

 

Key technologies: Smart sensors; Internet of Things; LoRaWAN; NB-IoT; Cloud computing; Hybrid cloud; Near real time modelling; artificial intelligence; intuitive data displays; customer notification methodologies; mobile technologies

 


 

Project: Condition based pump assessment       

Timescales: By summer 2019

   

SES Water use pumps to abstract water and to supply our customers with treated water.  We have approximately 150 pumps which are greater than 50kW in size.  These vary from submersible borehole pumps to large (>400kW) treated water pumps. The pumps have wide variety of ages and manufacturers, and as a result they are in a range of conditions. Whilst we have good information on the interventions that we have carried out on these pumps, either as a result of a pump failure, or due to a time based maintenance programme, we are interested in developing a proactive maintenance approach, based on an assessment of the individual pump condition. This may require a statistical approach, based on the maintenance and failure information currently held, or alternatively a low cost temporary or permanent installed sensor (potentially using an IoT network) which measures physical pump parameters to ascertain the pump condition, or some combination of both.

Key technologies: Statistical analysis; Mechanical equipment maintenance; vibration sensors; electrical sensors; failure modes

 


 

Project: CCTV/Security solutions                           

Timescales: By Autumn 2019

 

We have eight treatment works, 23 pumping stations and 31 operational service reservoirs and water towers, together with a number of satellite borehole sites, all of which require a level of security. We currently make extensive use of CCTV and similar solutions to monitor these sites. We are interested in solutions that would allow us a low cost integrated solution to site security, enabling us to combine sensors and cameras in such a way to ensure that we can monitor sites safely and efficiently.

Key technologies: CCTV; motion sensors; pattern recognition; artificial intelligence; intrusion alarms

 


 

Project: Mobile document management                   

Timescales: By December 2018

 

SES water have invested heavily in mobile technology, and we were one of the first Utilities in the UK to roll out android tablets for the mobile work force. As a result, we have seen considerable paper reduction over the last five years. However, there remains a number of old plans, diagrams and fitting notices currently held in digital form (predominantly jpg, pdf, tiff). We are interested in a mobile document solution that would allow these plans to be easily retrieved and viewed remotely. The solution would need to allow simple searches to be made, preferably on a geographic basis, but not limited to this. Mobile coverage within in our area can be patchy, so the ability to cache information locally would be a great advantage. In addition, due to the sensitive nature of some of these plans, the solution would need to demonstrate an adequate level of security.

Key technologies: Android application; document storage; encrypted data

 


 

Project: Condition based asset maintenance            

Timescales: Three to five years

 

Expanding on the work carried out on the condition based pump assessment, SES Water has a large number of above ground assets currently in a range of conditions. Whilst we have good information on the interventions that we have carried out on these pieces of equipment, either as a result of failure, or due to a time based maintenance programme, we are interested in developing a proactive maintenance approach, based on an assessment of the individual asset condition. This may require a statistical approach, based on the maintenance and failure information currently held, or alternatively a low cost temporary or permanent installed sensor (potentially using an IoT network) which measures physical parameters to ascertain the asset condition, or some combination of both.

Key technologies: Statistical analysis; Mechanical equipment maintenance; vibration sensors; electrical sensors; failure modes

 


Project: Hybrid/Electronic liveried vehicles               

Timescales: Three to five years

 

SES Water currently own and maintain a fleet of 120 livered vehicles, ranging in size from small vans to the 7.5 tonne lorries used by our repair and maintenance crews. The vast majority of these vehicles currently use petrol or diesel, however we recognise that in the future this will become increasingly less environmentally acceptable and financially viable. We are therefore interested in alternative solutions for this fleet, which will minimise the environmental impact of our operations whilst maintaining or lowering the cost of operating the fleet.

Key technologies: Electric vans; hybrid vans; alternative fuels; clean tech

 


 

Project: First Time Reinstatement                            

Timescales: One to three years

 

SES Water carry out 10,000 excavations in the highway every year, either as a result of new connections to our mains networks, or as part of our maintenance of our existing assets. Each highway excavation requires full reinstatement, for which the Company retains responsibility for a number of years. Whilst we would prefer to always carry out the full reinstatement as part of the initial work, this is not always possible. Not only can the sub layer settle over time, but modern roads generally require a well-engineered multi-layered reinstatement solution. As a result, a number of our excavations require multiple reinstatement visits. We are interested in developing products or processes that will allow us to minimise the number of reinstatement visits and yet retain the very low numbers of reinstatement failures that we currently experience. 

Key technologies: Highway excavation; sub base compaction; road engineering

 


 

Project: Virtual Markups                            

Timescales: One to three years

 

We have been using android devices for a number of years, and we are interested in how we can make better use of the technologies that they offer. We are looking at ways of combining our sub surface mapping (mains and supply pipes) into a virtual and augmented reality platform. This would potentially allow our staff to use their tablets to “view” what is under the road surface. In addition, we would like to be able to mark up a site virtually, for example by drawing details using the camera on one tablet, and those drawing details being available on another device – taking into account the location and orientation of the device. We’ve also been experimenting with Project Tango, a laser scanner incorporated into a tablet, and we’re keen to see if this technology can be used to measure excavation size and even the pipe diameter within the hole.

Key technologies: Android, augmented reality, virtual reality, BIM, laser scanning

 


 

Project: Online metaldehyde monitoring                            

Timescales: One to three years

 

About 15% of our treated water comes from a surface water source called Bough Beech Reservoir. This is an open reservoir which is filled predominantly with water pumped from the adjacent river Eden. However, during times of high rainfall, the river can contain high concentrations of metaldehyde, which is used extensively in agriculture to protect autumn sown crops against slugs. Metaldehyde is also difficult to remove from water and, to preserve the reservoir water quality, restricts us from pumping water from the river during autumn rainfall events. In order for us to manage pumping from the river, there is a need for us to know the metaldehyde concentration of the water within it, although current methods of analysis require relatively complex and expensive laboratory techniques, and take at least several hours to complete. We are, as a result, interested in more flexible, low-cost methods of rapidly detecting metaldehyde.

Key technologies: Metaldehyde, online sensor, service reservoir


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