Investing in Scottish Water’s smart asset base on its wastewater infrastructure, including remote sensors and data-driven insights, aims to improve its service to customers, protect the environment, reduce costs and help on its journey to net-zero carbon emissions.
Early investment of up to £100m over the next five years in its smart asset base – which is designed to use new technology to monitor our sewer pipes rather than relying on customers to report problems to us – has shown that Utility companies doing this will be able to better predict and prevent wastewater problems before they impact customers and the environment.
Wastewater is a focus of Scottish Water’s efforts to introduce cost and efficiency savings through an ambitious transformation program with the aim of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
Trials of the new technology have shown that it gives the company real-time insight into how its network is operating, allowing it to be more proactive in responding to problems and resolving issues before customers and the environment are impacted.
The technology is currently being trialled in four areas – Erskine, Inverness, Lossiemouth and East Calder – which have suffered from flooding and pollution events in the past.
Scottish Water has installed sensors that detect the presence of clogs and has already used this data to avert potential environmental pollution incidents (EPIs) and flooding at customer sites.
Using the insights gained from these four areas, Scottish Water intends to extend this information to other areas where similar issues arise.
Similarly, at its wastewater treatment facilities, a major challenge for the company is that there is little access to real-time data on the quality of treatment or the health and performance of critical assets. As a result, maintenance is more responsive than predictive, energy consumption is higher than it could be, and asset life is potentially reduced.
The goal is to access new and existing operational data across the infrastructure and connect it securely via Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and other devices to provide near real-time data and reduce reliance on site visits. This would provide significant cost savings as 600 samples are taken daily from Scottish Water’s 1,800 treatment plants.
This capability will be installed in 17 sample wastewater treatment plants. At the first, Laighpark WWTW in Paisley, Scottish Water now has real-time wastewater compliance data which, together with real-time control and intervention, is helping to reduce the risk of non-compliance and energy use across the site.
Condition sensors have also been installed on large equipment such as pumps, the failure of which can result in significant costs and pollution.
By monitoring vibrations and temperatures, Scottish Water’s maintenance teams can proactively intervene when signals exceed ‘normal’ operating levels, avoiding the cost of outages and pollution while also extending the life of the plant.
Scottish Water has so far invested more than £5m in wastewater pilot work and around £2m in the sensors in the network pilot.
Chris Toop, General Manager – Digital said: “We are very encouraged by the initial results of our pilot work. Innovative use of sensors and analytics in this way represents a much larger shift towards predicting and preventing problems before they impact our customers and the environment – ensuring vital services run smoothly and efficiently.”
Joyce Gray, Business Manager for Wastewater added, “This is a complex work program and a critical part of our digital transformation journey, helping to transform our wastewater business and drive a significant shift in operational performance.
“It will allow us to make better operational decisions, be more efficient and achieve significant benefits, particularly in terms of energy consumption and responding to asset failures.”
Atos and Capgemini are the digital partners supporting Scottish Water in IT service delivery and its digital transformation.
Neil Holland, Atos Client Partner Water, said: “Atos is delighted to be working with Scottish Water to transform its wastewater operations. Together we are already delivering breakthrough insights that improve the management of the sewage system, avoid clogging, thereby protecting the environment and delivering first class service and value to the people of Scotland.”
Paul Haggerty, UK Head of Energy & Utilities at Capgemini, said: “Capgemini is proud to support Scottish Water to make significant improvements in operational performance and CO2 reduction in wastewater treatment
“Our wastewater examples program uses next-generation technologies with an emphasis on human-centric design to support a digitally connected workforce and an intelligent wastewater network. This, in turn, will both create value for customers and support Scottish Water’s roadmap to net-zero emissions.”