Leak detection reduced to a third of the time

Tønder Water Utility, Denmark

With the analysis tool Water Intelligence, Tønder Water Utility has significantly optimised their leak detection in a particularly challenging area. New insights allow the utility to prioritise its use of resources and maintenance efforts. And on top of that their customers enjoy an improved service level.

When Tønder Water Utility was introduced to the analytics tool, Water Intelligence, the utility could quickly see the potential in relation to two of its most important focus areas: water loss and infrastructure maintenance. The tool monitors the network, and it automatically calculates daily water balances for each individual district so that the utility gets a continuous overview of the water loss.

Previously, leak localisation was particularly challenging on the island of Rømø, where the soil is very sandy – usually causing the water from leaks to disappear into the ground.

“Automation is the way forward”

Tønder Water Utility has used remotely-read meters since 2014, so they have had access a lot of data. So it was the prospect of being able to monitor the network automatically that caught the company’s interest, according to operations manager John Pies Christiansen, who says: “Our number of employees is not increasing, but we receive more and more tasks, so automation is the way forward for us.”

In the past, the utility spent a lot of time exporting data in Excel with many manual updates. With Water Intelligence this is done automatically. “We want a system that runs in the background and manages itself, so that we do not need to use resources until we are notified that something is wrong,” explains operations technician Christian Møller.

Tønder Water Utility has cooperated closely with Kamstrup from the beginning, and according to Christian Møller, Kamstrup has been very attentive to their experience with the program as well as their input on how to make it even more functional.

In the autumn of 2018, Tønder Water Utility experience a very concrete example of how the program could reduce their response time. Over a period of time, Water Intelligence showed a gradual increase in the water loss in one of the districts. The utility kept an eye on the development, and as soon as the water loss reached a certain level where the cause could be localised, they found a leak of five cubic metres per hour – a leak that was discovered a lot quicker than previously. “Leaks often had the time to develop into bursts before we discovered them. Now, we can move in before the real damage is done,” explains Christian Møller.

More effective leak detection

Previously, Tønder Water Utility only had the numbers from the pumping station to go on. If the total volume of water sent to Rømø was high compared to their experience and the historic data from the SRO system, it might indicate a leak. To localise it, the utility had to manually read and exclude one street at a time during night time, when it would cause least inconvenience. Today, the quantity that is pumped is compared automatically to the consumption in each district, making it easy to categorise the actual loss.

“With Water Intelligence, we go directly to leakage localisation. Before, two men could spend nine nights to track down a leak, with another day for preparatory work. Today, we can do it all in two or three days. There is a lot to save in terms of time and money,” says John Pies Christiansen. “It is about discovering where we can act most effectively – and that requires data. Driving around looking for a half cubic metre is like looking for a needle in a haystack. And it’s no good to just send in the whole cavalry.”

“With the overview we have today, we can also identify rising tendencies and be proactive,” explains Christian Møller. Among other things, this means that the supply company has improved the service it offers its customers. “Now that we have both data and knowledge, we also feel like we have a responsibility to use it to help our customers.”

Results of remotely-read meters, frequent data and targeted data analysis

Prioritised pipe renovation

Tønder Water Utility has postponed a planned renovation of the pipe network on Rømø in 2019. They expect that the detailed insight from Water Intelligence, will enable them to prioritise the renovation work far better. “A complete overview with performance figures for a year or more will show the areas that should be prioritised and which we cannot postpone, for example due to frequent bursts,” says John Pies Christiansen.

Until now, the utility has not had a basis upon which to determine the condition of the pipes and has therefore been unsure of where to focus its efforts. “We need to focus on the areas that result in the most value for money. The tool can provide that knowledge once we have the underlying data.”

“With Water Intelligence, we go directly to leakage localisation. Before, two men could spend nine nights to track down a leak, with another day for preparatory work. Today, we can do it all in two or three days. There is a lot to save in terms of time and money,”


John Pies Christiansen

A tool to support operations

For Tønder Water Utility, Water Intelligence is first and foremost a service tool. Among other things, the utility is very satisfied with the interface, which makes it easy to design and update the districts. “We don’t need to go through a map-department or to Kamstrup. You just move the lines,” says service engineer Erling Atzen. “As a technician, I prefer to have my tools in my hands rather than on the screen, but this sure is easy.”

Tønder Water Utility is now working on interpreting the tool’s visualisations. For example, they now know how to identify an open valve after the system drew their attention to something that turned out to be an open valve between two districts. “It is more fun to hunt down leaks now that it is not just based on hunches and presumptions but on actual data,” says Erling Atzen.

Within a year, Tønder Water Utility will start to divide their supply area on the mainland into additional district metered areas. Here, the utility is currently challenged in their leakage localisation due to a high number of connections, and they expect that Water Intelligence will help focus their efforts here as well.

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