How are 3 billion litres of water wasted every day in the UK?
Every single day in the UK, over 3 billion litres of perfectly good clean water is being wasted. That’s enough to fill 1,200 Olympic sized swimming pools. It’s estimated that this equates to roughly 25% of the UK’s daily water consumption.
Despite the stories we may tell our children, the majority of this wastage comes from leakages from pipes within water networks, and not from leaving the tap on whilst brushing our teeth or having a bath. Although every drop we can save does of course make a monumental difference.
So how is this happening? And more importantly, what can water companies do to prevent this? In this feature, we’ll explore all these questions in an effort to understand the complexities of our water networks.
What exactly is a leakage and how is it classified?
When referring to leaked water, we are talking about any treated water (i.e. cleaned) that is lost from the water network’s distribution systems and supply pipe losses from consumers’ pipes.
Essentially it is any treated water that a water company is unable to account for as having been used by someone. This can be broken down into two sources:
- ‘True’ or ‘Real’ losses, includes any water that is lost from a network’s pipes into the ground. For the average water company, a pipe network consists of mains (which move water around their supply area), communication pipes (which supply water to a property from the main) and other fittings, such as stop taps and valves, which allow them to control the flow of water.
- ‘Apparent’ losses refers to any water use of which a water company isn’t aware, such as illegal tapping, higher-than-estimated use by households and businesses that don’t have a meter, inaccurate metering and any data-handling errors.
What causes these leaks?
There are many factors that affect ‘true’ leakage, but the main ones are:
- Operational strategies, i.e. pressure management
- Network characteristics, i.e. length of mains
- Asset condition, i.e. age or natural wear and tear caused by pipe corrosion, ground movement, repeated stresses such as weight of traffic on roads above
- Changes in season and weather, i.e. in colder winter months it’s common to see an increase in pipes shrinking, causing disruption to the joints and increasing leakage. On the flip side, in hotter summer months, long dry periods can cause the earth to shrink, causing further movement of the pipes it usually supports and subsequent bursts.
- Customer base composition, i.e. rural or urban
Who estimates the amount of this wasted water?
Each water company is responsible for estimating their own water leakage and reporting it to Ofwat. They do this by comparing the measured volume of water that they recorded as being entered into supply, against the volume they estimate is being used. The difference between these two values is then recorded as leakage. Nearly all companies measure leakage in millions of litres per day (Ml/d).
What are the benefits of reducing water leakages and wastage?
Ofwat has set water companies ‘stretching performance commitments’ to reduce leakage over the period between 2020-25. By achieving these commitments, the sector aims to cut leakage by 16% by 2025. This reduction would save enough water to meet the needs of every person living in Cardiff, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Sheffield and Liverpool combined.
Rather than looking at the negative consequences of water leakages, we prefer to look at the wider positive impact that prevention and reduction can have:
- Reduced abstraction and therefore environmental improvement
- Increase in the planet’s drinkable water resources
- Reduced operating costs for water networks
- Reduced fines for water networks
- Increased reliability of water supplies
- Deferment of capital expenditure on water resources and supply schemes
- Improvement in the public’s opinion of water companies
- Reduced energy and chemicals for treatment and pumping which will reduce carbon emissions
- Reduced infrastructure damage, i.e. weakened road foundations
- Reduced flow and headloss, facilitating pressure to be stabilised and optimised
What measures can be taken to mitigate this wastage?
One of the main recommendations highlighted by Ofwat is for water networks to adopt more innovative approaches to deliver these reductions efficiently. When utilised properly, technology and data should successfully aid and enable across these four core areas:
Identify anomalous behaviour in a network before they lead to performance issues and mitigate the causes to achieve ‘calm network’ operation
The ability to understand and have awareness of weaknesses in a network, allowing action to be taken immediately
The ability to identify and locate weaknesses, enabling specific action to be taken without disrupting huge parts of a network
Tailored outcomes and actionable data in order to solve the problems that have been identified
There are many factors at play when looking to achieve a calmer network and reduce water leakage.
Utilising arboricity™, our near realtime hydraulic network modelling service, allows higher level automated analytical services to be brought online which are cognisant of the hydraulics of the network and therefore not ignored, increasing confidence in operational decision making and providing actionable insights.
High frequency technology InflowSys™, is also able to capture and localise significant pressure events within a network using leading edge analytics.
Inflowmatix were delighted to win The Institute of Water’s (IOW) Northern Area Award at The National Innovation Awards 2020, as well as being shortlisted for the National Award.
Whilst the IOW provides a stage on which to recognise Innovation in the UK water and sewerage sector, their National Innovation Awards gives a much needed spotlight for the many innovative individuals and companies. The awards recognise excellence within the water sector and are just part of the commitment the IOW is making to promote the right cultural environment and to encourage pride in the sector.
Inflowmatix were recognised for their products and services that enable water networks to monitor, understand and optimise the performance of their distribution networks through high resolution hydraulic monitoring solutions and insights. This allows networks to source, prevent and resolve issues such as leakages and supply interruption.
After receiving the award, Inflowmatix CEO, Dr Mike Williams, said “We are honoured to be recognised by such a prestigious platform for our work in the water sector, and this award will only spur us on to continue to work collaboratively with the networks, providing groundbreaking solutions to help optimise their performance.”
Sam Bright, Innovation Programme Manager, from the IOW commented, “It feels like every year we compliment the standard of the applications but truly this year’s cohort has been exceptional, which is a great sign of the Innovation culture blossoming in our area right now and I want to thank you for your part in contributing towards that.”
The Award is normally presented at the President’s Dinner during a prestigious ceremony where water sector experts from across the UK gather together, however, unfortunately due to the pandemic, the ceremony was not able to take place in person this year.
SUEZ Group announces the acquisition of Inflowmatix Ltd. This acquisition will enrich the Group’s range of digital solutions with a unique offering to ensure the performance and resilience of water distribution networks. It will reinforce SUEZ’s position as a leading technology provider for water utilities worldwide through its Smart & Environmental Solutions Business Unit.
Founded in 2015 as a spin-out from Imperial College London, Inflowmatix is the leader in the acquisition of high-frequency pressure data and associated edge analytics to support near real-time operational and asset management decisions for water utilities worldwide. The company has deep expertise and R&D capabilities in mathematical optimization, data science and hydraulic engineering applied to complex water supply networks. It offers the InflowSysTM suite, a combination of high frequency pressure monitoring devices and an enhanced data management platform, to enable water utilities to continuously monitor, analyze and optimize the performance of their water distribution networks and critical assets. Inflowmatix also developed arboricityTM, an integrated real-time network modelling and monitoring service to help water operators secure the management of their distribution systems while reducing leakage and disruptive pipeline bursts.
Inflowmatix has a broad and engaged customer base in the UK, France, Italy and Australia/NZ. The SUEZ Group’s channels to market will accelerate growth. Inflowmatix’s offerings complement and are already integrated with key SUEZ offerings such as Calm NetworkTM and AquadvancedTM suite. SUEZ became an Inflowmatix shareholder through a SUEZ Ventures investment in 2019. Parkwalk, the specialist investor in UK university spin-outs, and IP Group plc provided initial seed and follow-on funding. “This deal is an excellent example of how value can be created out of commercialising university IP”, said Alun Williams, Investment Director at Parkwalk. “I am convinced that this partnership with SUEZ will drive continued success”. Kelsey Lynn Skinner, Partner at IP Group, agrees: “This is a world-class innovative team driving change in a key industry, and we welcome this next chapter – to global scale.”
After several years of collaboration, Inflowmatix and SUEZ have been able to offer innovative solutions to our clients thanks to their complementary expertise. This acquisition, announced a few weeks after the creation of a joint venture with Schneider Electric to support the digital transformation of water operators, will allow us to offer a greater range of smart water solutions and to reinforce our position as a leading player in the fast-growing water pressure management market.”Diane Galbe
Group SEVP – Smart & Environmental Solutions BU and Strategy
The Inflowmatix journey started in 2015 and over the last 5 years the company has grown its technology based solutions and deployed them extensively in the UK and around the world. Inflowmatix contributed to the ‘Our Water: Our Future’ a news and current affairs style series by ITN Productions and the Institute of Water. Featured at the Institute of Water virtual conference, 15th October 2020. This video produced in conjunction with the Institute of Water and ITN Productions gives an insight into how Inflowmatix and its ground breaking solutions fundamentally change the behaviour of water networks.
Inflowmatix appoint a new distributor for Australia and New Zealand
Inflowmatix is delighted to announce their new partnership with Detection Services Ltd as sole distributor of the InflowSys™ Edge product range covering both Australia and New Zealand.
As demand for greater network insight, integration and network optimisation continues to increase, so does the need for effective technologies and advanced analytics solutions that provide unique insights into network dynamics. Inflowmatix, through the use of the InflowSys™ analytics platform combined with high frequency InflowSense™ Edge pressure measurement devices enables this journey through a scalable, secure and accurate set of solutions.
The platform provides water utilities with deeper insights to better understand the dynamic behaviour and the performance of their water networks in order to enhance asset life, mitigate supply interruptions and thus provide confidence in a client’s network.
Detection Services, General Manager, Chris Evans said: “This partnership not only increases the Detection Services offering, by adding the Inflowmatix expertise for data and insight driven strategy, it extends the commitment to our customers to deliver them the latest innovative solutions and technologies.”
Robin Bell, COO at Inflowmatix said: “We are excited to be working with Detection Services to introduce the InflowSys™ Edge technology throughout the regions of Australia and New Zealand. The Team at Detection Services have a deep understanding of the effects of dynamic pressure behaviour on critical network assets and their added value approaches combined with the Inflowmatix product range are already helping customers implement proactive solutions.
Giving customers confidence in their water networks.
To add to the challenges of water scarcity and aging infrastructure, the water industry is now tasked with achieving a 16% reduction in leakage by 2025. HELEN COMPSON speaks to one company who are challenging conventional approaches and are already helping utilities meet the target.
Inflowmatix is that rare beast, a company capable of developing, manufacturing and effectively integrating advanced monitoring technologies, with modelling and optimisation applications as a core part of their offering.
Thanks to the supreme quality of the data collected by its InflowSys™ Edge system – and indeed the size of the resultant databank – Inflowmatix has a unique advantage in being able to apply its patented algorithms and analyses to tackling leakage, supply interruptions, asset management and water quality.
Now, hot off the presses, the company has a new, expanded package that builds on the strengths of its already established InflowSys™ Edge product line, which incorporates the InflowSense™ pressure devices that do the legwork.
But before we talk about arboricity™ and its boundary-busting ability to integrate with other systems, let’s set the context. Where did Inflowmatix come from?
The story begins when Inflowmatix was founded as a company by Dr. Ivan Stoianov in 2015 to make good use of a decade or more of research carried out at Imperial College London. CEO Dr. Mike Williams and COO Robin Bell were in at the beginning.
If Inflowmatix can be described as having a mission, it is to help water network operators control pressures and optimise their services, embracing the subjects of resilience, asset management, leakage and water quality in the process.
By mapping where the customer’s network is most at risk and exposing dynamic pressure variability, it can present a detailed picture of pressure surges, unusual usage patterns, negative pressures and asset misbehaviours.
The company has harvested the expertise of water industry specialists, engineering experts and world-class academics to bring cutting edge solutions to water utilities around the world
According to Robin “When we set up the business, we started out with the aspiration to provide analytical solutions to our customers, so it is all about solutions based on numerical, mathematical and computational approaches.”
“The company has been founded on the dynamics of pressure variations in water networks building on the innovative work carried out at Imperial College London by Ivan and his postgraduate team over many years working hands on with industry partners.”
The hardware needed to come first as there was nothing currently in the market that was capable of the spatial and temporal accuracy and resolution required. The result: InflowSense™, the pressure sensors that are part and parcel of the InflowSys™ product portfolio.
The brand has since been extended to InflowSys™ Edge, reflecting the advent of devices that can sense anomalous behaviour at the edge of the communications network as well as across the entirety of the water network.
As a standalone system, it typically comprises an optimised number of InflowSense™ devices that are deployed to provide insights into the behaviour of the network on a zonal basis.
In contrast, to address a gap in the market, arboricity™️ takes a top down agnostic approach. Mike clarified: “arboricity™ builds on the solid foundation of InflowSys™, but integrates other data sets to provide a more insightful input for the water utilities.”
A prime example of this ability to integrate is the SERENE™ ‘DMA Health Index’ product Inflowmatix has built in partnership with Black & Veatch, one of the water industry’s tier one suppliers.
“Black & Veatch supply consultancy services in management, logistics and delivery to companies around the world, but principally in Britain.”
“Combine what they do with arboricity™ and you can see where we’re going with this – together we are driving towards healthier and more resilient water networks.”
DMA insights from the sharp end are crucial if the industry is going to meet what is the most ambitious leakage control programme set in decades. “Success will require just this type of digitally-enabled network management,” Mike said.
The starting point is the integration of multiple in-house and customer systems to collect the data required. The sensor and network data is then brought together in one, seamless platform.
Using 12 key network parameters, lagging/leading and supporting features are brought together in concert to create a DMA Health Index score through our SERENE™ product. This provides a unique network view on how a DMA is performing towards key regulatory targets, based on a narrative of real-time measured network behaviour.
The resulting DMA Health Index – offering multiple, scenario based assessments – provides the mechanism by which water companies better understand how and where investment can be targeted most effectively to reduce leakage.
Mike said: “SERENE™, and the relationship with Black & Veatch, is just one example of what arboricity™ can do – it can and will go much further.”
“We are actively integrating with other platforms such as hydraulic modelling systems and thereby building on its versatility.” Mike acknowledges there are many software packages for hydraulic modelling in existence, but they all require data to be provided by the utilities to be of true value. This is governed by the accuracy, resolution and timeliness of such data, as well as the standard of the calibration process used.
The calibration of hydraulic models is typically something of a ‘dark art’, carried out by consultants with little reference to external validation. As a consequence, it often delivers results of minimal value to network operators, despite having significant associated costs.
Furthermore, hydraulic models tend to be deprived of regular maintenance and as such, their operational value depreciates rapidly.
Inflowmatix has solved these critical constraints with a proprietary ‘model calibrate and maintain’ process that involves making the initial model calibration a low-cost deterministic process.
It does this by combining the high spatial and temporal resolution data acquired by InflowSense™ with robust mathematical optimisation methods and analytics delivered by arboricity™, and then both automatically and recurrently maintaining the model’s performance and accuracy.
All of the Inflowmatix technologies are tailored to one end, said Robin. “Ever greater pressure is being placed on the water industry. Ofwat as a regulator has been very incisive in its approach to improving the customer experience not only in terms of reducing leakage by at least 16% through the Asset Management Plan (AMP period 7 – 2020 to 2025), but additionally demanding resilience of supply whilst reducing customer bills.
Mike summarises: “The Ofwat drive is in many ways leading the world – a good example of the regulator taking a focused and proactive approach to improving our use of water.”
“Our role here is to help operators build confidence in their network and support the industry in meeting its challenging targets.”
Read the full article online: https://t.co/HpKcoibMpL
A video from Suez highlighting the collaboration with Inflowmatix and Cla-Val to create a ‘Calm Network™’
Click here to watch the video on YouTube:
Frank Van der Kleij talks about his experience of working with Inflowmatix.
Press Release – October 2019
SUEZ takes a minority share in Inflowmatix, further enhancing its range of digital solutions for the performance and resilience of water networks
SUEZ Ventures, the SUEZ Corporate Venture Capital fund, is supporting Inflowmatix’s growth through a 2.8M£ investment, joining existing shareholders IP Group Plc, Parkwalk Advisors and the founders.
Founded in 2015 as a spin out from Imperial College London, Inflowmatix is the technology leader in high frequency pressure data, analytics, management and related services for water utilities worldwide. The InflowSysTM suite1 allows network operators to continuously monitor, diagnose and manage hydraulic instabilities, leading to a reduction of bursts, leakage, operating costs and enabling the prioritisation of network maintenance operations. Inflowmatix has been successfully commercialising InflowSysTM since 2017 to more than 40 customers globally.
IMPROVING THE RESILIENCE OF WATER INFRASTRUCTURES: A CONCERN FOR MUNICIPALITIES WORLDWIDE
The urgent need for the preservation of the water resource globally, the ageing of water networks and the increasing financial constraints, prompt municipalities worldwide to always improve the operational efficiency of their water infrastructures. Networks must be efficient and resilient, replaced only as and when necessary, and managed in order to guarantee the operational and economic performance of the services delivered to the citizens.
Inflowmatix has developed InflowSys™, a combination of high frequency pressure sensors and enhanced data platforms, for water utilities to provide them with the insights to better understand the behaviour and the performance of their water distribution networks. As a consequence, utilities can improve their actions on asset management and mitigate the likelihood of failure of critical parts of the network by optimising the overall pressure in their network.
SUEZ ACCELERATES THE DEPLOYMENT OF DIGITAL SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE NETWORKS PERFORMANCE
The Inflowmatix and SUEZ teams have been working together for months in several countries to support their clients. “The uniqueness of the Inflowmatix solutions combined with SUEZ water management expertise has already enabled us to provide a disruptive range of digital solutions to meet our clients’ targets for network performance and asset management” declared Jean-Marc Boursier, COO of SUEZ. He added that “this partnership will be the cornerstone of the Calm NetworksTM new offering as part of our newly released performance plan aiming at reducing burst and related opex by 30m€ by 2023.” SUEZ manages a network of 300,000 km of drinkable water pipes long all around the world.
“Inflowmatix is excited to receive this endorsement by SUEZ of the innovative solutions we have brought to the market. We are confident that with the continued joint efforts of our two teams, the Calm Networks™ offering will be a major contributor in saving water, preserving vital assets and reducing TOTEX for water utilities” said Dr. Mike Williams, CEO of Inflowmatix.
Robin Bell, Chief Operating Officer of Inflowmatix, is interviewed by So Magazine.
Founded in 2015 as a spin out from Imperial College London, Inflowmatix has built on cutting edge research to develop patented technology that specifically addresses the ever-increasing challenges that the water sector faces.
Read the full article in So Magazine here: