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£20 million IT upgrade future-proofs London water supply

Wednesday 12th May 2021 08:17

Man looks at bank of computer screens

The complex computer systems which control London’s drinking water supplies have been upgraded while keeping the taps running in a “monumental” £20 million project by Thames Water. 

Moving from the 25-year-old RTAP system to the new ClearSCADA platform saw the replacement of multiple legacy and obsolete systems, while keeping customers in supply across the capital. 

One of the largest of its type in Europe, the technology monitors output from the five big treatment works in London – Hampton, Coppermills, Walton, Ashford and Kempton – as well as more than 200 service reservoirs, pumping stations and boreholes, many of which are unmanned and need to be operated remotely. 

Carly Bradburn, Thames Water’s head of digital operations, said: “The computer system oversees the production, treatment and delivery of up to 2.2 billion litres of drinking water every day. Replacing it has been a very complex and challenging project. 

“The old system was over 25 years old and software updates were no longer available. Replacing it needed the engagement of multiple stakeholder groups, external suppliers and companies, and has been a vast undertaking. 

“The commissioning of the new system included checking and validating more than 700,000 data points, and around 100,000 functional, mimic, alarm and user tests to ensure minimal operational disruption and risk. 

“This has been a monumental achievement. What once seemed impossible has been done.” 

The new system, supplied by Schneider Electric, was migrated over several months last year and this year, running alongside the old process to resolve any problems, before taking full control of the whole estate. 

Mark Grimshaw, Thames Water’s head of London water production, said: “Investing in resilient systems and assets is one of our key priorities. There can’t be many more important projects than updating the technology that ensures a reliable water supply for one of the world’s major cities. 

“Keeping the old system up and running while launching the new system alongside it has been a monumental effort by everyone involved – a great example of teamwork at its very best.”