Mike Parker, CRALEY Group's Chief Technical Officer, explains how he feels Atlantis Hydrotec® could assist UK Water Companies in achieving their AMP7 ODIs
25th September 2018.
AMP 7 is now imminent, planning is in full flight to determine the necessary actions, programmes and budgets to achieve the requirements.
AMP 7 is the seventh Asset Management Period running from 2020 through to 2025 and Water Companies are now in the final stages of their business plans, which are vital to meeting industry regulator OFWAT’s requirements once the next period begins.
The Outcome Deliverable Incentives (ODIs) for AMP 7 are both a 'carrot' and a 'stick', and both a blessing and a curse, depending on whether a Water Company, meets, over-achieves, or fails to attain the individual targets; and the financial rewards or penalties can be considerable.
ODIs for AMP 7 are tightened and the sector is facing some major challenges for this next investment period.
The industry has invested over £130 billion in Water and Waste-water infrastructure since privatisation in 1989 and has delivered huge improvements in water quality and environmental standards, but is being driven relentlessly by the regulator for exponential increases in improvements.
The sector now faces an upcoming range of challenges including water scarcity and the environment, combined with climate change and an ever-growing population; along with also the continuing challenge of affordability.
The Office of Water Services (OFWAT) requires Water Companies to include, amongst many other things, a set of performance commitments relating specifically to new asset health performance, infrastructure resilience and sustainability.
The Role of Innovation...
SMART Water Networks - Evolution and Revolution
Technology is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Operational complexity is increasing, and systems are becoming more inter-reliant and integrated.
SMART Water Networks, by gathering and processing these new multiple data feeds will facilitate:
Remote identification of problems & faults
Fully automatic control of parameters (pressure/flow/quality)
Self-monitoring and self-healing infrastructures
Rapid and in-time repairs, and fix-before-fail strategies
Meeting increasing homeland security needs for water asset
The combination of new generation sensor and control technology combined with data networking and processing of information will deliver the reality of maximally efficient & fully sustainable water systems.
More sensors and controls bring the biggest challenge yet, a new generation of enhanced and high-speed communications is needed which can connect all parts of the network, regardless of geographical location. Next Generation SMART Water Networks will need to embrace the so-called ‘Internet-of-Things’ (IoT) providing fast, reliable and ubiquitously available data links.
Radio-based connections (low-power wireless, mobile/GSM and microwave) have been the mainstay of communications for Water Companies for a long time, deployed mainly due to the remote nature of many assets, sensor and control systems. But these deliver low data speeds and often suffer from unreliability, particularly in adverse weather conditions, and so are increasing unsuitable for Next Generation SMART Water Networks. Added to this are increasing concerns at government levels that since radio is in ‘free-space’ it can be relatively easily, and covertly, ‘tapped’ and de-crypted – with the fear of cyber-terrorism and threats to key national infrastructure progressively higher on the agenda.
Fibre-optic communications is only long-term viable way to deliver the new SMART Network infrastructure :
Unlimited data bandwidth
Reliable and secure
Providing the back-haul for the Internet-of-Things
The interconnect of any and all physical devices
Distributed sensors and actuators become ‘cyber-devices’
The challenge, and the problem, is that fibre-optic links do not exist where water companies need them, particularly in extra-urban, outlying and rural areas; exactly where many water assets are located. Providing new fibre optic links is currently undertaken by traditional civil techniques of open cut trenching, which are slow to deploy, very disruptive and extremely expensive.
Therefore, new techniques and innovation are urgently needed to provide the required fibre-optic communications, for the SMART Networks revolution, and full Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity.
The Environmental Challenge - The Real Cost of Water
The Green Agenda is taking an ever higher profile.
While water for treatment in the UK may be generally relatively abundant, and the supply considered to be low-cost, most organisations are keen to reduce their carbon footprint. However, changing weather patterns are leading to water shortages in many UK regions at certain times of the year already, and the situation will only likely get worse over time.
A typical leakage rate in excess of 25% represents a vast amount of wasted power and unnecessary carbon emissions from the treatment and pumping of this water.
A single 3mm corrosion hole in a metal pipe running at just 6 bar pressure may be responsible for the following:
Up to 4,800 cubic metres lost per year (at 0.5 cubic metres per hour)
Electricity consumption of up to 3,000kWh per year
Up to 600,000 litres of carbon dioxide gas per year
'This roughly equates to the carbon emissions of a typical family car
being driven for 4,600 miles; just for a single 3mm hole in a section of pipeline'
Even if the power is generated from waste-water treatment, greenhouse gas emissions are still created, exacerbating global warming and contributing to future water shortage and drought conditions, not just in the UK, but across the world
– this is the real cost of water.
When considering the UK as a whole, the environmental cost of water loss though leakage is astonishing:
1,200,000,000 cubic metres of water lost per year
Electricity consumption of 790,000,000kWh per year
Release of 149,000,000,000 litres of carbon dioxide gas per year
The equivalent of driving 1,100,000,000 miles in a car
The equivalent of water supply to 23,500,000 head of population
For this reason, reduction of water loss through leakage is one of the key metrics that all Water Companies are seeking to achieve.
Targets for leak detection and water loss reduction must be met. The main problem is that you cannot fix what you cannot see, and new innovative techniques for better and real-time leak detection are needed.
Additionally Water Companies have internal metrics for ‘dry-holes’, the number of failed digs required to find the location of a leak, this process can cost more operationally than fixing the leak itself, and to improve this more accurate location of leaks is needed.
How CRALEY Group Solutions Can Help
CRALEY Group is blazing the trail with innovations in infrastructure, and our company maxim is ‘Better, Faster, Cheaper’.
CRALEY Group has two key product sets that will provide Water Companies and Primary Contractors with new and innovative technologies to assist in the vital task of achieving their ODIs into the next AMP 7 period, and far beyond into the future:
Atlantis Hydrotec® - Providing solutions to install future-proofed Next Generation fibre optics using water pipes as a pre-existing conduit – towards the goal of SMART Water Networks and the Internet-of-Things.
iSM™ - A radical new concept for in-pipe leak detection and event monitoring of water networks using fibre-optics deployed via Atlantis Hydrotec® as a highly accurate real-time distributed in-pipe sensor, along with third-party intrusion detection and asset security.
This is a unique and innovative technology. The technique is a ‘pipe-within-a-pipe’, where a special purpose small bore ‘Messenger Pipe™’ is inserted into an existing water pipe.
A fibre communications cable may then be inserted into the Messenger Pipe™, which fully isolates it from the water, there is never any contact between the two. The data is transmitted as pulses of light, there is no electrical power involved.
There are variants of Atlantis Hydrotec® for all sizes of water pipe, from home service supply pipes though to large diameter trunk water mains.
The system is independent of the actual material or size of the water pipe (and also independent of the intervening ground conditions or terrain).
Access to the water pipes is via standard pipe saddles, weld-on bosses, electro-fusion fittings or flange fittings, case-by-case.
Valves (and similar) are always by-passed with a break-in/out point which is provided via a special purpose pressure adaptor for secure containment of the Messenger Pipe™.
All materials used are water industry approved (eg HDPE, stainless steel etc) and certified as safe by both WRAS and NSF.
Fibre-optic cable delivered by Atlantis Hydrotec® provides a fully future proofed solution with ultra-fast connectivity suitable for all Next Generation communications and SMART Water Network requirements.
Water pipes already link Water Company assets, and of course also link to communities, so they provide an ideal ready-made conduit to carry communications to exactly where needed. The Atlantis Hydrotec® system is particularly appropriate for extra-urban and rural locations, and these are specifically where provision of good communications and fibre optics is very sparse, both from a Water Company and community perspective.
Installation is primarily trench-less so it is rapid, cost-effective, and achieved with a bare minimum of civil works and associated disruption, plus it is a very green and eco-friendly technique. Being trenchless, it also overcomes most of the issues surrounding permits to work and wayleave problems typically associated with any large-scale trenching operations.
Once the Messenger Pipe™ is installed within the water pipe, it may be routed to a separate fibre containment unit (either another nearby small vault or hand-hole, or an above ground service box), in this way communications engineers do not need to have any direct access to Water Company vaults or assets, all work can be done from the ends of the Messenger Pipe.
Water Company in-house uses are many and will include:
Control, monitoring & telemetry
High capacity data links
Evidential grade CCTV for enhanced asset protection and new generation homeland security measures
Distributed & real-time in-pipe internal leak and event detection combined with asset, perimeter and access road security
Fibre-optic links deployed via the Atlantis Hydrotec® solution have additional benefits in addressing the increasing concerns regarding cyber-terrorism.
It is possible to install a much larger fibre-count than needed just for Water Company use, and so these ‘spare’ fibres may be a source of third-party revenues which are incremental and non-regulated. Third-party users may include:
Education & health
Internet & data service providers
Water Companies are unique among utilities in that they typically have a strong social responsibility agenda and a desire to provide community benefit input.
Many Water Companies also preside over large rural areas, and these are the regions where communications from the main telecoms providers is generally very poor due to high costs and relatively low population density. This ‘digital-divide’ places many rural communities at a significant economic and social disadvantage, despite their high quality of life location.
Since many Water Company assets are located in outlying areas, the fibre deployed for in-house use can also provide life-changing, new generation services for rural communities where it would not be economically feasible otherwise. The provision of Ultra-Fast broadband to rural areas will dramatically benefit the communities it serves by re-vitalising the local economy and providing for re-population of a region.
An innovative solution that allows Water Companies to monitor events within their water network in real time 24/7 365.
In addition to monitoring events within the pipeline itself, the sensing fibre also has the capability to exit the pipeline to monitor strategic above-ground assets along the pipeline route. The sensing fibre can be utilised as a third-party intruder detection system to protect perimeters of assets and buildings, access roads and tracks, detect illegal hot-tapping and nearby digging activity.
The solution requires the deployment of a fibre-optic sensing cable within the water pipeline using CRALEY Group's Atlantis Hydrotec® solution.
Atlantis Hydrotec® is a pipe-in-a-pipe solution that allows the introduction of a water-grade and certified Messenger Pipe™ inside the water pipeline. The Messenger Pipe™ is small in diameter in comparison to the water supply pipe, and causes no detrimental effects on either flow or pressure when inserted.
The Messenger Pipe™ is hollow, and allows the insertion of a fibre-optic sensing cable using an air blowing technique which is standard in the fibre industry. It is important to note that the Messenger Pipe™ provides full isolation of the fibre sensing cable and that the fibre can never come into contact with the water.
The iSM™ solution uses a fibre-optic strand as a linear and distributed sensor, and since the fibre is actually within the water pipe itself it has exceptional and unparalleled sensitivity to events within the pipe. Optionally, additional fibre strands can be installed within the Messenger Pipe, typically up to 288 strands, should there be a requirement for additional data communications, control, telemetry, CCTV etc.
The iSM™ active equipment is only required at one end of the sensing fibre run, along the pipe run there is no other equipment or power required, i.e. along the sensing fibre along the pipeline run is totally passive.
What sets iSM™ apart from transiting sensors (e.g. a ‘floating-ball’ or tethered sensor) is that the sensing is continuous, fully distributed and real-time. What sets iSM™ apart from ‘correlating’ fixed-location sensors (e.g. ones sporadically placed on hydrants or in valve chambers) is that very long runs can be covered with just one system, the event location accuracy is extremely high and dependable, and it is independent of pipe material, size, wall thickness or flow velocity. Further, what sets iSM™ apart from both transiting and fixed-location sensors is that it may also be used simultaneously for asset protection and third-party intrusion detection as well as pipe event monitoring.
iSM™ uses a highly advanced OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectrometry) based technique to detect any vibration picked up by the fibre strand from within the pipe, and also nearby to the pipe. Rapid pulses of light are fired down the fibre and the system detects the ‘back-scattered’ light that travels in the reverse direction, caused by the ‘Rayleigh’ effect within the material of the fibre strand. The intensity of the light received by the iSM™ Analyser is a function of the interference produced between the light sent in one direction and its back-scattering. This interference, in-turn, is modified by forces applied to the fibre, it is this effect that gives the detection of physical vibrations of the fibre. The iSM™ Analyser can detect both the frequency and amplitude of acoustic signals that the fibre strand encounters, and the sensitivity is exceptional.
This detection capability is used in iSM™ to allow the sensing fibre to be treated as multiple and individual ‘virtual’ sensors inside the pipe, by time-slotting the back-scattered light. An iSM™ Analyser unit can monitor up to 40km (25 miles) of fibre in one run, and define up to 8,000 separate ‘virtual’ microphones (i.e. the virtual sensors may be defined as down to every 5m (15 feet).
Events within a pipe generate defined signals, and the iSM™ system continuously monitors every single ‘virtual’ sensor down the run, taking 150 million data samples every second.
This information is converted into a data array of source distance, frequency and intensity. Due to the large number of ‘virtual’ sensors and comprehensive information from each individual location, iSM™ can use Sensor Result Profiling (SRP™) to detect any selected event type (e.g. leaks) and a highly accurate location for the event.
In a typical Atlantis Hydrotec® solution there will be many break-in/out points for the Messenger Pipe™ along the water pipe run, to by-pass isolation valves and for access to the installed fibre cable for data connections (telemetry, control etc.). The fibre used for the iSM™ sensing is spliced at each break-out point along the run to create one continuous length, fusion splicing is employed to ensure minimised losses at each splice point.
The fibre type used with the Atlantis Hydrotec® and Messenger Pipe™ system is single mode to G.652D (or better) specifications, and the iSM™ system works at 1550nm light wavelength, where good quality fibre can offer 0.2dB/km loss, and a well-made fusion splice should give an in-line loss of down to 0.05dB.
The iSM™ can operate with an end-to-end fibre signal loss of up to 12.5dB, which will define the combination of run length and number of in-line splices. In a typical scenario, iSM™ can operate over a continuous run of 40km (25 miles) with over 60 break-out points.
The iSM™ system can also be used in hybrid mode to detect third-party intrusion (TPI) as well as events within a water pipe.
TPI detection can be both for underground and above-ground assets. Above-ground TPI includes perimeter protection of assets (e.g., human foot-fall, fence-climbing, etc) and monitoring for vehicle traffic on access roads/tracks. Underground asset TPI includes illegal hot-tapping activity, nearby digging and vault cover opening, and if a pipe is running down an access road vehicle presence can actually be monitored via the in-pipe fibre.
The above-ground TPI is facilitated by taking the iSM™ sensing fibre at a water pipe break-out point and splicing to an external fibre run that is taken around the asset or access road to create a TPI-Zone™.
This external fibre is protected in a small (5mm diameter) duct and is buried 30cm (12”) below ground level, around an asset perimeter (e.g. a building), alongside an access road, or woven into a fence, a TPI-Zone™ may include one or many of these sub-zones.
Once the in-ground sensing fibre has traversed the TPI-Zone™ route, it then re-joins the water pipe (Messenger Pipe™) run, where it is spliced and continues its journey on-bound – in this fashion one or multiple TPI-Zone™ locations may be deployed and are effectively in-line with the water pipe run, as one continuous fibre strand.
During commissioning of an iSM™ system installation, a GIS Mapping over-lay is loaded and the route of the sensing fibre is inputted, this will then include water pipe runs, valve chambers, TPI-Zone™ runs and similar.
Sensor Result Profiling (SRP™) is a powerful software feature that is run in the iSM™ Processing Server (which takes the raw sensing fibre data from the iSM™ Analyser & Control unit). SRP™ comprises ‘masks’ that allow the profiles of events to be compared with live data, these determine if an alert must be generated.
All event types have unique SRP™ masks, much like a finger-print or DNA trace – users may create custom SRP™ masks if required. The system is ‘trained’ to identify events for maximum accuracy of alerts.
iSM™ monitors the sensing fibre continuously, ’24/7 365’ and alerts are generated usually within only a few seconds of occurring. When an event is determined, it may also case-by-case be compared with historic data and/or on-going data from an event location, in order to fully qualify an alert.
The commissioning process of an iSM™ system installation also includes one or multiple SRP™ masks to be programmed for any given part of the sensing fibre run, across the whole route, to customise what events shall be monitored for at each location, these include, but are not limited to:
Service connection activity & usage
Events that are outside-of-pipe, but can be monitored from within a pipe
Vault cover opening and vault accesses
Nearby digging activity (both manual and mechanical)
Gate & door accesses
Nearby digging activity (both manual and mechanical)
While highly detailed ‘engineering’ detail screens can be viewed (for instance to analyse any given event alert in more detail if required), generally the GIS Mapping screen will be used, and any alert, once it has been qualified by iSM™ as valid, is highlighted along with information on exact geographical location, time of event and type of event. The iSM™ system stores historical data (based on hard drive capacity installed) which can be reviewed and compared if needed.
There have been dramatic changes with innovation and technology-led advances in many sectors, and the water industry is now driving hard along this route.
Achievement of the upcoming ODIs will necessarily need to be led by innovation, and this itself being led by new technologies and creative ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking.
Water Companies take innovation very seriously, but also the Primary Contractors too, which make their profits to a large extent based on improvements through innovation, doing things better, more effectively and for less cost. It's the often the role of the Primary Contractor to assist Water Companies to achieve their ODIs.
Among key innovations, is the move towards Next Generation SMART Water Networks:
A greater distribution of sensors for flow, pressure, levels and water quality
Enhanced control of valves, pumps and processing equipment
Infrastructure asset condition assessment
Asset protection and security