High-tech system can halve time taken to locate leaks (Jan 2011)
1st Jan 2011
As plunging temperatures increase burst pipes, the latest technology is helping Thames Water to reduce the time it takes to find leaks in London.
Thames Water leakage experts are pioneering the use of new technology, which has seen much of their pipe network fitted with a ‘central nervous system’ that is enabling leaks to be detected and fixed more quickly.
The system is helping Thames fight leakage in the face of the early onset of snow and ice, which saw bursts and leaks more than double.
The ‘Water Infrastructure Monitoring System’ developed by Israeli software company TaKaDu analyses increases in flow or pressure detected by ‘district meters’ and pressure sensors buried underground throughout Thames Water’s supply network.
By comparing flow and pressure patterns, it assessed whether this is due to a wide range of potential causes – for example, rising demand or work Thames is doing locally. If the cause is leakage, it can often show the leak’s likely location to within a few streets.
The TaKaDu system is currently monitoring 6,500 miles of mains in London – more than a quarter of Thames Water’s 22,000-mile network. Once the results of this have been assessed, Thames will consider whether to extend it further.
The system was originally trialled from April on 2,000 miles of mains in 19 locations in London, and in a smaller area in Guildford. It proved most successful in the centre of the capital, which resulted in the greatest efficiencies in detection.
The TaKaDu system works by detecting statistical anomalies in data, compared to what it recognises as ‘routine behaviour’. It automatically highlights deviations from the norm that cannot be explained, for example, by weather, holidays or overall changes in consumption.
The system can also show if a repair has been mistakenly reported as complete, and has idenfitified faulty meters, data transmission issures and pressure fluctuations. In some cases, it has shown that unexplained water loss which had been assumed as leakage was actually due to customer usage.
Omry Tuval, senior TaKaDu engineer, said “There was a case of unexplained flow in Guildford. Our system received data from eight pressure loggers placed in the local system, which quickly identified the exact location and proved that the water was being used legitimately – allowing Thames Water to reduce its local leakage figure”.