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Booming city, leaking network

  • Booming city, leaking network
  • ABB digital control and monitoring technologies strengthen Ho Chi Minh City’s aging water distribution system.

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ABB, technology leader in electrification and automation, enabling a more sustainable and re-source-efficient future. The ABB’s solutions connect engineering know-how and software to optimize how things are manufactured, moved, powered and operated.


If the 1.5 million motorbikes that cram the streets of Ho Chi Minh City everyday queued one behind the other, they would still cover less than one tenth of the local water distribution network, which serves more than eight million residents and stretches around 33,000 kilometers.

In just 50 years, Ho Chi Minh City has transformed from a simple economy based on fishing into the economic heart of Vietnam and the country’s largest city. In the 1960s only five percent of the Vietnamese population lived in cities - the number has grown to 33 percent today, as people are attracted by higher quality living conditions and job opportunities. It is a trend that sees the Ho Chi Minh City’s boundaries expand by four percent each year.

Such significant growth brings wealth for the entire country, but it also threatens the rapidly aging urban infrastructure, including the city’s water network. Ho Chi Minh City lost nearly 30 percent of its clean water in 2016 through leaking and damaged pipes. Many sections of the water distribution infrastructure are old. Some sections were built more than 30 years ago, while others even date back to the colonial era. More than 150 million cubic meters of water went to waste last year. For perspective, most developed cities have a water loss rate of five to seven percent.

Ho Chi Minh City lost nearly 30 percent of its clean water in 2016 through leaking and damaged pipes

Keeping up with growth

In order to keep up with the rapid pace of urbanization and meet the target of reducing the water leakage to only 10 percent by 2020, the local utility Saigon Water Corporation (SAWACO) recently undertook a major renovation of the city’s water distribution network. Expansion of the current network capacity, integration of more isolated sections, reduction of water leakage, and real-time control and monitoring of the network conditions to prevent major disruptions are all part of the project scope.

To meet this complex target, a strategic ABB AbilityTM Symphony® Plus SCADA system has been designed. The ABB system integrates a sophisticated leakage detection and management system from the water network management company TaKaDu. The project will deploy several data collection points, such as sensors and meters for flow and pressure monitoring, to the water network and allow SAWACO to digitally monitor the network conditions in “nearly real time”. The utility will be able to continually detect, analyze and manage network events transforming that information into immediate actions to reduce the water losses.

ABB Ability Symphony® Plus is a distributed control system (DCS) especially tailored for the water and power industries. Part of the ABB AbilityTM portfolio of digital offerings, this control system adds value for customers by carefully collecting, analyzing and providing actionable insights on plant and engineering data in their systems, ultimately allowing them to lower project risk, reduce cost and throughput times and improve asset performance and profitability.

ABB’s scope of supply for this critical project includes field instrumentation and sensors that are critical components to deliver high quality data to the control system.

"Projects like Ho Chi Minh City water network show the full potential of advanced automation for all municipalities dealing with rapid expansions or aging infrastructures," comments Kevin Kosisko, Managing Director of ABB’s Power Generation & Water business. “Furthermore, the smart collection of digital data from the field will offer real-time insights on the network status, allowing for increased revenues”.

A fruitful outcome

Thanks to the digitalization of its network, the real-time knowledge of network conditions and the accurate detection of leaks, SAWACO will be able to increase the amount of water delivered to households and industries. In doing so, it will minimize the estimated 500,000 cubic meters of non-revenue water lost per day, roughly the daily capacity of a medium-sized water plant in the city.

Since its launch in 2011, ABB AbilityTM Symphony® Plus has achieved more than 6,800 new installations, on top of the thousands of plants that have chosen to upgrade to this DCS. Symphony Plus is the DCS of choice for other projects in Vietnam such as the original commissioning and further extension of the Vinh Tan 4 supercritical power plant, located 250 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh City. Upon completion, the complex will provide an additional 5,600 megawatts of electricity to the Vietnamese national grid.

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