Minsait, digitalization of water utilities
Digitalization is here to stay, and just as it is changing all aspects of our lives - cities, homes or our leisure time - it is also revolutionizing business. This ongoing trend, also known as industry 4.0, is essential to guarantee the competitiveness of companies.
At Minsait, a leading company in digital transformation, our goal is supporting our clients by providing solutions aimed at generating positive impacts on their business and on society. A constant evolution is required to address the challenges faced by the industry, such as reducing production costs, speeding up responses to eventualities or improving customer experience.
Water utilities are not on the sidelines of this wave of change. Digitalization has led to a transformation of the water sector, becoming essential in most processes, both at the level of water infrastructure operation as well as commercial management and related corporate processes: financial, HR or marketing, among others.
Digitalization has led to a transformation of the water sector, becoming essential in most processes, such as infrastructure operation
The range of new tools includes several solutions, from the intelligent and automated management of the sensors deployed in the field, to the automation of processes through a “Virtual Workforce”, a wave in the digital transformation that is revolutionizing back office and front office operations. All these new solutions contribute to improve the main water management areas, in terms of equipment connectivity, data homogenization, and process automation.
Nowadays, the global panorama intensifies the water utilities challenges. Climate change is a reality and so it is the fight against water scarcity, worsened by an incessant population growth and increasingly stringent environmental regulations. For all these reasons, the sector is necessarily forced to integrate disruptive technologies in its management.
Although major water companies are taking leaps and bounds to catch up, their level of digital maturity still has a long way to go
However, although major companies are taking leaps and bounds to catch up, the digital maturity level of water companies still has a long way to go.
Based on our experience in utilities at international level, where we carry out digital transformation projects, we identify three types of companies, based on their level of digitalization:
Companies in a premature state of digital development, where their efforts in the IT field are focused on implementing basic functionalities of an ERP system, covering basic processes of commercial management, having a GIS system, as well as supporting the operation through a SCADA system.
Digitally conscious companies, which have redesigned most of the operations to have more automated and controlled processes. These companies are in a phase of consolidating their technology to be able to implement complementary functionalities. Digitally conscious companies usually implement more advanced modules of the systems, as well as solutions that enhance energy efficiency and the relationship with both internal and external customers through their virtual office and web portal. In addition, they develop pilot projects that allow them to validate the application of new operating models, validating and identifying the Business Case that deserves a future investment.
At the highest level would be companies with digital maturity, which are those that have consolidated their technologies. These companies still have room of improvement through the incorporation of advanced analytics aimed at optimizing strategic decision making, where data is a common asset for all areas. Similarly, the automation of processes reduces human intervention in low-value tasks, guaranteeing continuity and quality of service and making operations more efficient. To do this, they resort to the capabilities of robots, automated end-to-end monitoring and virtual replication of real processes.
It is essential to migrate from obsolete technologies to modern ones and adapt the business processes and logics to digitalization in order to improve in financial and operational terms. Additionally, companies must align their IT strategy with OT, as both are completely linked.
In order to face the digital transformation and promote new customer-oriented business models, we have developed Onesait Utilities, a complete suite of solutions focused on responding to new challenges and opportunities for utilities in the new digital age. In search of operational efficiency, the integration of these solutions is essential to provide water companies a unified vision of performance.
Among the available solutions, the implementation of Onesait Utilities Customers allows the optimization of the commercial cycle, covering the different needs of the business areas and enabling a 360º view of all processes related to a specific customer.
It is essential to migrate from obsolete technologies to modern ones and adapt the business processes and logics to digitalization
It is also necessary for utilities to have the appropriate inputs, guaranteeing the reliability of the information obtained throughout the network. Access to real consumption, flow, pressure or water quality data allows the companies to take a step forward to implement flow control solutions.
In this field, Onesait Utilities Metering monitors assets and validates and certifies the measure. It also supports analysis and decision making by applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) through Machine Learning and integrating Big Data capabilities and functions such as forecasting demand. This is the way to drive progress towards a state of digital maturity.
In order to face the digital transformation and promote new customer-oriented business models, we have developed Onesait Utilities
Another factor contributing to measurement accuracy in a water supply network is identifying physical leaks in the network. The more exact the procedures for the control of real and apparent leaks, the better characterized we will have the volume of non-revenue water, which will favour the implementation of hydraulic efficiency plans with significantly more positive results.
To solve the problem of locating network leaks in real time and accurately, we have developed Onesait Utilities Sensing, an automatic system for the detection of leaks and threats in pipes in real time based on the use of DAS technology (Distributed Acoustic Sensor). The system uses standard communication optical fibre, and monitors transport and distribution networks by transforming optical signals into alarms with an intuitive and functional user interface.
At Minsait we have a technological lab that uses simulation technologies on a 4-pressure bar hydraulic circuit. This way we can identify individual and simultaneous leaks in the network, as well as external threats, whether mechanical or manual disturbances.
Concerning improving operational efficiency, we are applying hyper automation processes, where we combine multiple technologies
It has been possible to identify leaks with a sensitivity of around 100 l / hour, as well as threats and their location in the pipeline with great precision, of approximately 5 metres. A single optical sensor device can monitor up to approximately 150 linear km.
These and the implementation of many other systems generate layers of complexity for operators and can even lengthen routine testing processes in control centres. That is why there is always a need for simplification and presentation of interfaces, in such a way that it is simple for new users and there are no barriers in the way to digitalization.
Minsait wants to be part of the sector’s digital revolution, with disruptive technologies to build competitive water infrastructure
From the point of view of improving operational efficiency, we are applying hyper automation processes, where we combine multiple technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), RPA (Robotic Process Automation), and automation tools, helping our clients to apply them incrementally. This process starts with the digitalization of content and processes, evolves with the automation of repetitive tasks through robots and integrating support platforms that offer an analytical perspective, and finally evolves to the implementation of intelligent processes that simulate the human decision-making process. These technologies assist utilities in reducing costs, generating additional revenue, and minimizing risks.
In this way, with the application of all these new solutions, Minsait wants to be part of the digital revolution of the water sector, applying new disruptive technologies that will allow society to extract more information and build responsible, competitive water infrastructure with a vision towards the future.