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Award nominated “digital twin” helps save millions of litres in leaks

Wednesday 21st April 2021 09:58

The digital twin has helped save millions of litres in leaks

A high-tech “digital twin” of Thames Water’s clean water network is helping the company save up to one million litres of water from being lost in leaks every day.

The new programme compiles data from a range of devices including smart meters and acoustic loggers to create a virtual replica of the network in real-time, showing how the pipes are performing and acting as an early warning system for potential problems.

The software, which is the first of its kind for the water company, is currently being trialled in Deptford, South London, where it has already identified a number of leaks caused by high pressures and damaged valves.

As well as highlighting these issues so they can be quickly fixed, the twin can be used to simulate the effects of different repair methods and identify the best solution.

The success of the twin has seen it be shortlisted for both the Most Innovative New Technology of the Year and Data Analytics, Cloud and AI project of the Year at the Water Industry Awards 2021.

David Gable, Thames Water’s project delivery manager, said: “Reducing leakage is one of our most important priorities, and also one of our biggest challenges. I’m delighted the digital twin in Deptford is helping us track leaks in the area and ensure we get as much water as possible going where we want it – our customers’ homes and businesses.

“Being able to capture a range of data streams and present them in a simple format adds another tool to our armoury in the fight against leakage and I hope this is a model that can be rolled out across our network.”

The twin is among a number of digital tools which feeds in to the Thames Water’s recently-launched system risk visualisation (SRV), a tool which combines data from a number of different systems in to an overall picture, allowing the company to visualise the performance of its network and identify emerging risks.

The system compiles vast sources of up-to-date information on flow rates, pressure and reservoir storage levels, which can then be viewed in a number of ways, including on schematics, maps, tables and graphs. It then uses a traffic light system to flag potential problems.

As well as providing an overall “health check” of the network, SRV can be used during major incidents like bursts or as an early warning system for problems which could impact customers.

The winners of the Water Industry Awards will be announced at a virtual ceremony on May 27.