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Anglian Water and Schneider Electric drive smart business future

21 December 2016

Anglian Water is the largest water supply and water recycling utility in England and Wales by geographic area. Priding itself on driving continuous improvement, it is fully committed to innovation and collaboration.

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Anglian Water operates in a particularly challenging market. Its supply demand balance is under threat from a number of issues, including climate change, growth and sustainability. The UK’s mature water industry largely relies on a stressed, ageing, water infrastructure, with the added pressure of a rising population, growing water scarcity and the risk of abstraction licenses being reduced to ensure that water sources remain stable. In addition, utilities must adhere to a number of regulations on water quality, leakage and service enforced by Ofwat (the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales), the Drinking Water Inspectorate, the Environment Agency and the Consumer Council for Water.

To support its ambitious vision and maintain its competitive advantage as a private water utility, Anglian Water knew it needed to build a smarter business which could utilise the vast volumes of big data being generated. This would enable it to reduce leakage, reduce energy bills and streamline operations. Furthermore this smarter business model would enable the utility to provide improved customer experience.

The foundation of this included the replacement of its ARTS2000 telemetry system, (built upon a system implemented in the 1970s) which now lacked functionality and the ability to interoperate with other corporate systems within the organisation.

Given the lengthy and complex nature of the project, Anglian Water required close collaboration with a technology provider that could offer support, consultancy and service and move away from the traditional customer/vendor technology procurement relationship. Schneider Electric was selected not just because of its flexible, scalable technical offering but also because it was seen as the best company to work in partnership with on this complex and challenging journey.

Solution

Partnering with Schneider Electric, Anglian Water embarked on the significant operation to replace its wireless telemetry system ¬– the largest UHF telemetry system that exists in Western Europe today. It is comprised of 6,500 operational sites, over 12,000 telemetry outstations and 639,090 points.

Anglian Water implemented Schneider Electric’s StruxureWare SCADA Expert ClearSCADA solution, which they refer to as the Integrated Remote Intelligence Service (IRIS) system. This was used to handle real-time wireless data transmission and provide a software platform for the telemetry system. In order to get a true view of the business, it was critical that all the main systems could interoperate and facilitate access to pools of disparate data which could be combined to provide real business insight. This was the basis of the OT (operations technology) and IT convergence drive at Anglian Water. Using the new system, the utility is able to monitor every drop flowing through its network, provide real-time monitoring of its 38,000km of water mains and 76,000km of sewers to ensure effective working order and smooth running of services.

As the organisation’s first foray into advanced big data exploitation, this project established a key data collection and control component for a second project specifically addressing the water leakage management area. Given the issues threatening Anglian Water’s supply demand balance, the company is focused on the importance of efficient water resource management and in particular, leakage control. This is demonstrated by its investment of £20 million per year on leakage management and the employment of 300 staff who are fixing and finding up to 27,000 leaks each year. Reducing leakage is a priority for customers and so by 2020 Anglian Water is planning to reduce these levels by 10 percent from its 2015 baseline.

To address this, an Integrated Leakage and Pressure Management system (ILPM) was developed using Schneider Electric’s Water Management Suite (WMS) technology. This enabled Anglian Water to facilitate collection of data across multiple systems (through its integration with virtually all of the utility’s corporate systems) to improve processing and offer visualisation of that data through actionable dashboards. As a result, it could empower users to effectively manage leak detection and complete internal and regulatory reports easily.

Results

Working with Schneider Electric, the team made joint decisions, prototyped ideas and took a holistic approach across all needs and systems. This has delivered a new, integrated solution that supports the industry move towards IT and OT (including ERP) convergence and provides the foundation for further business improvement. Anglian Water can now support future advancements and use its platform as the foundation of its key business and operational objectives for AMP6, AMP7 and beyond.

The new and improved Anglian Water solution has 30 interfaces that integrate with a number of corporate systems including iREM – automatic regulatory reporting, and SAP. Integration with SAP has enabled increased work-flow efficiency, through automatic raising (and cancelling) of work orders by the system, from alarms. Users across the business can now raise leakage jobs directly from ILPM, view SAP customer data and create bespoke dashboards to monitor and control leakage.

Anglian Water can drive similar efficiencies through built-in alarm pressure logic. This has enabled users to reduce the number of redundant alarms and suppress consequential alarms caused by fieldwork maintenance. Now, employees are only responding to alarms if genuinely needed. This has increased operational efficiency by approximately 10 percent. With predictive analysis capabilities, users can also improve forecasting, for example, to see how long it takes to empty and fill tanks and anticipate the time needed to respond to problems. Using built-in intelligence, teams can now take over management of the entire network, rather than just individual sites.

Using the ILPM system, regulatory reports can be automatically generated and published. There is also no need to pull data out of the system and into Excel for manipulation. Therefore, ‘Excel experts’ are no longer needed to process data and the automation of reports means analyst time has been freed up for more complex data analysis.

Next steps

In the future, Anglian Water intends to extend the relationship with Schneider Electric to evolve ILPM through pressure management benefit tracking and integration with online hydraulic models. It plans to trial Schneider Electric’s Aquis solution, which provides past and real-time network modeling, as well as forecasting capabilities to reduce operational and energy costs associated with water distribution activity.


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