Severn Trent is creating artificial intelligence (AI) as part of an industry-first trial, that will use technology to predict weather conditions, forecast maintenance, and control waste flow to better manage its network.
The project that’s part of the Ofwat Innovation Fund, will see the intelligent technology deployed on its network, such as pumping stations, that will then operate independently, by using forecasting and real time monitors.
The company say the benefits of trialling the innovative AI technology will allow its network to operate more efficiently and will predict issues and prevent them before they occur. Meaning less overflow activations, and better management of its network in storm conditions.
Severn Trent is leading with the project in collaboration with others and say that the project is set to not only bring big benefits to customers and the environment but will help create the blueprint of how waste networks can operate effectively using AI in the future.
Rich Walwyn, Head of Head of Asset Intelligence & Innovation at Severn Trent said: “This project has the potential to transform our waste networks, and it’s truly exciting that innovation and technology are at the heart of it.
“By turning to innovation and developing the artificial intelligence, this technology is able to forecast and get the network in prime condition. So, when we know heavy rain is predicted, the network will automatically optimise the network’s storage ready for the extra flow and divert flow away from overflows and hot spots reducing the risk of flooding and pollution.
“This means our customers and environment are more protected, and we can better control the flow of the extra rainfall to the treatment works. The AI technology will help the network be forward thinking and prepare itself in the event of storm conditions,”
The company is working with a number of partners to deliver it, including four other water companies and six industry partners specialising in areas to collaborate on the project, such as BT, Rockwell Automation, 8 Power, Blackburn Starling, University of Exeter, Thames Water and South West Water.
Rich added: “Not only does the project itself bring a whole host of great benefits, but the learnings we find from this trial can revolutionise how we manage our waste networks in the future. Which ultimately would be a fantastic result for our customers.”
Danny Longbottom, Director of England and Wales for BT, said: “This is a vitally important project for the water industry and a great example of how we can use technology for good. We are providing the predictive maintenance technologies required to help address challenges around waste flow. We will also demonstrate how smart technology can be the bedrock to build an intelligent sewer network.”
Dr Peter Melville-Shreeve, University of Exeter: “From a research perspective we are helping share ideas and technologies from around the world with the team here at Severn Trent. Innovations around intelligent wastewater management are developing apace, and the Centre for Water Systems researchers are looking forward to analysing data from the coming deployments.”
Severn Trent is launching the trial in Derbyshire in Alfreton, and is trialling the AI until 2025.