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Case study

Reducing Transient Pressure Waves on a Potable Water Network

Anglian Water trials SmartValve to manage and monitor manual valve operations

The Problem

Valve operations are an essential part of managing and maintaining a water supply system, however they can pose a considerable risk to the network if carried out in an unsafe manner. The industry as a whole understands this issue and many have invested in training and other measures to combat the damaging pressure changes which occur as a result of improper valve operations.

Training of Network Technicians has gone some way to control activity on the network but it is acknowledged that improper operations are still being carried out.

In addition to the risk of damaging pressure changes, more commonly known as transient pressure waves, many water companies have struggled to track and log valve operations. This causes issues with data integrity and impacts on network configuration and network models. This can make managing the network, especially during operational incidents, very challenging.

The Solution

SmartValve is an app based product designed to record manual valve operations and update asset data in the potable water network. The system allows valve status to be tracked and updated with designed integration pathways to other internal systems such as GIS and Works Management.

Devices are attached to a standard valve key using an adapter to record the time, location, turning speed and orientation of all valve operations. These operations can be both planned and unplanned in nature and users are also able to tag and update valve asset information from their device.

Operations can be programmed to include a guided turn profile based on the Network Technicians training. This provides a useful aid for new starters and operatives that do not usually turn valves.

A web portal enables Operational Managers and support teams to monitor and review completed valve operations. This provides reassurance to managers that the network is being operated in a calm manner in order to reduce unwanted events such as burst mains.

Anglian Water Trials and Development

In 2018, after nearly two years of development and testing a fully functional version of SmartValve was demonstrated to Anglian Water.

During the two-year development cycle Anglian had been instrumental in testing and evaluating the solution from proof of concept through to the production ready version. Providing access to the Transient Training Rig at Grafham Water and expertise from the Innovation Team the final development release of SmartValve was a highly-functional solution designed to address the operational and management requirements in operating a potable water network.

The results

Over the 5 week period the following results were reported:

96

Valve turn operations completed

70%

of these compliant with operational standards

58

Valve assets data updates

29

Valves tagged with Near Field Communication Chips

During the trial the viewed results showed that valve turn profiles improved (more aligned to operational standards) the more the app was used. This suggested that, with the continued use of SmartValve, it is possible to change behaviour. This results in a calmer network with less severe transients.

 SV Chart 1

Valve operation completed at start of trial

This picture shows a valve close operation completed on a 4” sluice valve early on in the trial. The speed increases at the start and decreases at the end, however this does not follow the 80:20 rule where the final 20% of the turn should be much slower than the rest of the operation.

 SV Chart 2

Valve operation completed with SmartValve guidance

The solid line shows the turn profile guidance given by SmartValve app to the technician as they completed the turn. If the turn speed was to exceed this line the app would beep to encourage the technician to slow down. These speeds were set based on the AW Transient training guidance and the picture shows the technician was able to comply with this.

 SV Chart 3

Valve operation completed without guidance at the end of the trial

When the SmartValve guidance was removed from the operation you can see that at the end of the trial the technician was now operating valves in a way that complies with the 80:20 rule. This shows that it is possible to used SmartValve to positively change behaviour to operate valves in a way that is unlikely to cause pressure transients in the network.

The trial also identified assets that had incorrect or missing data. These were updated as part of the trial and the data made available to update Anglian’s GIS.

Trial Conclusions

The trial confirmed that SmartValve provides a reliable platform for technicians to improve their valve operations and therefore maintain a calm water network. This was demonstrated by using the in-app guidance for operatives using turn operational standards.

SmartValve makes it possible to update out of date asset information and enhance this with photographs to improve operation of valves and make it easier for the next operative to successfully identify and operate the correct valve. This helps to remove the risk of operating the incorrect valve, causing unwanted configuration issues, but also to increase the speed of identification and operation of valves compared to using existing systems and processes.

“It has been fantastic to trial and help SmartValve Limited develop this product for use in the Water Industry. SmartValve could help address a number of our current operational challenges and is a product that ultimately could help us deliver a better service to our customers. The trials have demonstrated that SmartValve can be used to further mitigate the risk of transients in our supply systems, which should help calm our systems and protect our assets through encouraging best practise operation.”

Identified Benefits

The trial delivered the following benefits for Anglian Water

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Calmer Networks

Transients have a proven negative impact on distribution pipework causing failures. By being able to reduce the frequency and magnitude of transients in the Treated Water Distribution system caused by manual valve operations this should in turn reduce the number of bursts experienced.

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More Efficient Incident Management

With valve operations being logged via SmartValve, operational managers are able to focus their efforts incident management. Using SmartValve to create a “live” view of Network Configuration improves their ability to detect configuration issues or restoration options, potentially enabling customer supplies to be restored more quickly.

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Enhanced Network Understanding

More in-depth and regular data about asset interactions could allow Anglian Water to move to more proactive maintenance and efficient PPM work.

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Better Customer Service

Bursts, leaks and incorrect valve operations can have downstream effects on water quality such as discolouration and air in water. By creating calmer network operations and fewer failures these water quality impacts could be reduced.

https://smartvalve.co.uk/media/uploads/2019/05/calmer-networks.svg

Enhanced Network Understanding

More in-depth and regular data about asset interactions could allow Anglian Water to move to more proactive maintenance and efficient PPM work.

https://smartvalve.co.uk/media/uploads/2019/05/more-efficient-incident-management.svg

Better Customer Service

Bursts, leaks and incorrect valve operations can have downstream effects on water quality such as discolouration and air in water. By creating calmer network operations and fewer failures these water quality impacts could be reduced.

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Increased Operational Efficiency

Through regular updating of valve information using SmartValve, assets would be easier to identify and operate therefore, when required to do so, valve operations can be completed in less time.