Acoustic Leak Detection (ALD)
Leak detection
Water loss

Söderhamn Nära saves customers from water damage

“Acoustic leak detection helped us identify leaks from day one.”

– Henrik Inancsi, Meter Manager at Söderhamn Nära AB

Water loss reduced from 31% to 25%

Savings: 45700€/year

The Challenge:

Illusive pipe leaks lead to damage and water loss

Each year, 400,000 m3 of water disappears on its way to Söderhamn Nära’s customers – that’s a water loss of 20%. Finding leaks was a costly, time-consuming hit-and-miss effort, taking anywhere from days to years. Once engineers suspected a leak, they would go from valve to valve to listen for it, shutting off areas one by one to verify their assumptions.

Areas with plastic pipes are particularly problematic. “You can’t hear the leak with our traditional equipment so unless it comes up to the surface, it’s almost impossible to find,” says Henrik Inancsi, Meter Manager at Söderhamn Nära.

The solution:

Acoustic leak detection accurately traces each leak

Today, Söderhamn Nära AB uses flowIQ® 2200 smart meters combined with the Leak Detector analytics tool to identify and verify potential leaks. The smart metering solution with acoustic leak detection enables targeted detection efforts at specific locations, ensuring efficient use of resources. The efficient leak detection also accelerates the process of identifying pipe sections that need replacement.

Acoustic leak detection traces leaks
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A steep and interesting learning curve

When Project Manager Robin Lindberg and Meter Manager Henrik Inancsi started working with Leak Detector more than three years ago, they identified the first leak within just one hour. They immediately jumped in the car and went to the address where they listened to the valve, and when they closed it off, the sound disappeared. Finding a leak had never before been this easy!

Today, Robin and Henrik have 200 daily alarms, including leakage, dry-running, and temperature alarms.

“In the beginning, we would react to every meter that detected an unexpected noise. I think we checked maybe 50 alarms that turned out not to be leaks, after all. So, we learned quickly to tell apart the different noise patterns, and we can almost always tell if it is an actual leak or something else, like a heating pump or a dehumidifier,” says Robin and adds: "The sound from a leak is constants so now, we often wait a day or two to see if the sound stays or if goes away again."

If the leak is in an iron pipe, the sound travels farther so Robin and Henrik can sometimes narrow down the search by looking at sound values in neighbouring houses.

"It's like a detective job. Every time you find something suspicious, you start investigating. It's fun and it's a good feeling every time you can stop a leakage" says Robin.

Avoiding unnecessary water costs leads to happy customers

Some customers are suspicious at first because they haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary, but when they realise what could have happened, they often call back just to say ‘thank you!’

“The first six months called 150 customers about leaks, running toilets and left-on garden hoses – all based on info codes from the READy Meter Data Management system or noise patterns in Leak Detector. We’ve helped our customers prevent property damage from a long-lasting leak, and we’ve helped them avoid paying enormous water bills for the leaking water,” says Henrik.

And if customers ask about their bill, Robin can immediately tell the customer exactly when they started using extra water. It helps the customer remembering that maybe it was on that day they filled the pool or started watering the garden.

Five minutes and a cup of coffee

Where Robin and Henrik immediately realised the value of the new leak detection tool, the rest of the organisation needed 'proof' before becoming convinced.

At some point, a 10m3/hour leak was registered at one of the section meters. Two of Robin and Henrik's colleagues spent a full weekend searching for the leak without finding anything. When Robin showed up at the office, Monday morning, it took him five minutes – and a cup of coffee – to locate the leak and send the precise address to the digging team.

"In the beginning, they simply didn't believe us. In fact, it took almost a year before they started calling. But we are right almost every time, so now they always call me," says Robin.

Reduced water loss and more precise metering

The efficient leak detection has led to savings for Söderhamn Nära in more areas. Water loss from leakages has been reduced from 31 to 25%. This alone means savings of 500,000 SEK per year. But a more precise metering using the digital meters has also proved valuable.

A year ago, Robin and Henrik tested 100 households to see if there would be a difference in consumption when using analogue meters compared to digital. The result was that the digital meters showed an average increase in consumption of almost 13%.

"The advantage is not only that we find all these leakages but also that we can increase invoicing maybe 5-10% thanks to more precise metering. This way we reduce the overall amount of non-revenue water," Robin states.

More savings in the pipeline

Söderhamn Nära’s goal is to have hourly measurements from all meters and to add more district meters so they can implement additional analytics within the next couple of years. When all meters deliver hourly data, the enormous amount of data will provide a much better foundation, not just for leak detection and customer service, but also for maintenance and asset management investments.

Already now, the many leaks that are detected helps speeding up the process of identifying pipe sections that need replacement. The more leaks that are found on the same pipe, the sooner it is changed.

“The more meters we install, the more we’ll know about trends and seasonal variations and the more effective the system will be,” Robin says. “We don't have an official target but reducing the water loss further from the 25% we have now to 15 % is a realistic goal, I would say.”

A great tool

Söderhamn Nära's water and district heating operations are both using Kamstrup's intelligent meters and software platform. And since both water and heat meters use the same concentrators, there is only need for one infrastructure.

"It's a great tool for a small organisation like ours. READy works really well with acoustic leak detection, it is so easy to work with, and it saves us a lot of time," says Henrik and underlines that: "Kamstrup is plug'n'play and that's why we chose it." 


“Not only do we help prevent potential property damage from a long-lasting leak, but our customers also avoid paying for water they don’t use. This makes for great customer relationships, which is so important to us.”

– Henrik Inancsi, Meter Manager for Söderhamn Nära AB

Dig into the details of Leak Detector

Locate leaks in service connections and distribution mains based on acoustic noise data.

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