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Building a sustainable water utility through digital transformation

  • Building sustainable water utility through digital transformation

About the entity

Mueller Water Products
Mueller Water Products, Inc., (NYSE:MWA) is a leading manufacturer and marketer of products and services used in the transmission, distribution and measurement of water in North America.

The Digital Water Market accounted for $5.4 Billion in 2019 and continues on a steep growth trajectory as water utilities are upgrading their aging infrastructure to be smarter. Part of the reason for this rapid growth is thanks to IoT that has made the digital transformation scalable, unlike in the past when you had to choose one service provider at a massive cost that locked you into one solution and out of others. A second reason is that for every solution there is a trickle-down effect, making the ROI very attractive. Essentially smart technologies make systems more efficient, allowing utilities to continue to upgrade their aging infrastructure that needs replacing and better serve their customers. Water utilities are doing this in the following ways:

Pillars of Transformation

Pressure Management

Hydraulic integrity is the backbone of a well-maintained water distribution system. Today’s smart technologies allow real-time system monitoring and real-time control. Real-time system monitoring provides its own benefits. Real-time alerts can notify crews of a critical drop in pressures or transients. Utility crews can be deployed immediately to carry on investigation and mitigate the situation.

With a constant stream of data and analysis with historical data, smart monitoring can also identify leaks or other pressure anomalies that might suggest further investigation leading to maintenance of a faulty valve, for example. This data is also helpful in capital asset management planning. Coupled with real-time pressure control, smart algorithms can recommend optimal valve settings and auto optimize the system. Knowing your system in real-time allows you to make the right changes earlier, and in so doing, mitigate much larger problems.

The advantage of dynamic pressure monitoring is immediate. Optimal pressure extends the lifetime of pipes, and pressure monitoring improves asset management by identifying potential issues before they become a problem.

Metering & Flow Measurement

Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is one component of the smart city, enabling continuous two-way communications between the network and metering devices, to accurately measure and collect data that can be used for billing, sending customer alerts and notifications, demand-response, remote service-connections and disconnections, and more. Smart meter deployments reduce front line operators’ exposure to environmental hazards, improving worker safety while reducing time spent in the field.

A new boost in communication speed has been added as an industry first with the LoRaWAN Class B specification used in the Mi.Net LW node, making it the fastest two-way wireless communication without shortening its battery lifespan. It permits on-demand data to be collected and transmitted remotely within seconds. Besides consumption data, alerts such as leak detection, no flow, reverse flow and register tampering are constantly monitored.

With the flow management utilities can monitor flowrate and consumption in water networks, resulting in reduced non-revenue water, demand planning, leakage quantification, and improved network modeling. Operation efficiency and revenue generation.

Leak Detection

With the permanent leak detection monitoring utilities can accurately identify and locate leaks in water distribution mains, resulting in reduced leakage rates, labour savings, and increased customer satisfaction.

Water Quality

Flushing of water distribution systems is critical to ensure customers receive the best water quality. Automated flushing saves a lot of man-hours and provides a reliable solution to ensuring this critical function is happening where and when it needs to. SMART flushing units can sense chlorine levels in real-time and flush accordingly, or operators can set to scheduled flush times. With two-way communication, remote flushing and water quality management can be managed in a control room or with a connected device. Operators can receive real-time updates, set alarms and jump into action when needed.

Automated flushing also saves workers from accessing difficult far-off units with hazards such as dangerous wildlife or rush-hour traffic. Tough terrain can also take a toll on trucks.

Mobile Workforce Management

With the mobile workforce management App utilities can digitize workflows, improve field data collection, and remotely dispatch field crews, resulting in faster response rates to events and cost savings from improved labour efficiencies.

Linear Asset Capital Planning

With the linear asset capital planning utilities can match capital budgets to the most urgent needs of the water network, resulting in reduced break rates, extended asset life, and improved delivery of service to water users.

Digital Twin

With a digital twin application, utilities can model flow, quality and pressure in water networks with real time data from sensors, gaining the ability to predict events, plan for outages and improve network operation.

Foundation for Transformation

Water Intelligence Platform

Smart water technology platforms like SentryxÒ are really easy to operate. This digital services platform makes it easy for water utilities to monitor, operate, and monetize water distribution networks, offering multiple services on one common platform. Operators can pick services based on their immediate needs.

A Sustainable Future

The most compelling reason for the growth in the digital water market is sustainability. That said, technology is always changing so some might wonder how a digital utility paves a path to sustainability. In large part it comes back to IoT. Housing your data in a water platform that uses the latest industry standards, security and performance gives utilities a seamless IT department that will keep you up to date with the latest software, access to machine learning and integration of the new technologies of tomorrow. Essentially what you have today will evolve with tomorrow.

The pillars of digital transformation give you eyes and ears on your system, providing meaningful insights for scheduling maintenance, repairs and replacement. Having vitals on your water distribution system enable building a managing a mobile workforce, capital asset planning and digital twin

reduces costly repairs from unexpected failure and ensures you are getting the most life out of your assets and only replacing infrastructure when absolutely needed. A digital utility makes it easier for workers to access the system remotely, reducing time and cost of rolling trucks and limiting workers from hazards in the field. A well designed, digital water utility will have more time and resources to stay one step ahead.

As the water industry faces the exodus of a knowledgeable aging workforce, the new generation enters with an innate understanding of technology but lack of experience. Combining historical data with machine learning will alert the new workforce of predictive outcomes, enabling them to focus on planning and addressing issues as cost effectively as possible. They are also shaking up the structure of how we work. Having access to system infrastructure through PCs and mobile devices give the operators of tomorrow the advantage of data intelligence and control from any secure connected device. It’s no longer where or when you work, it’s that you have the most accurate intelligence at your fingertips to do the best job!

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