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.
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 the CRALEY's Fibre™ solution.
CRALEY Fibre™ 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 CRALEY Sensing™ 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 CRALEY Sensing™ 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. the sensing fibre along the pipeline run is totally passive.
What sets CRALEY Sensing™ 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 CRALEY Sensing™ 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 CRALEY Sensing™ 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.
CRALEY Sensing™ uses a highly advanced OTDR (Optical Time Domain Reflectometry) 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 CRALEY Sensing™ 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 CRALEY Sensing™ 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 CRALEY Sensing™ 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 CRALEY Sensing™ Analyser unit can monitor up to 40km (25 miles) of fibre in one run. There are approx 1200 Virtual Sensors along a 1000m run.
Events within a pipe generate defined signals, and the CRALEY Sensing™ 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, CRALEY Sensing™ can use Sensor Result Profiling (SRP™) to detect any selected event type (e.g. leaks) and a highly accurate location for the event.
AMP 7 and the Role of Innovation...
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.
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