Decision support for the management of water and wastewater assets


University of Strathclyde
Scottish Water

Start date:

September 2014


Until October 2015

Project abstract

Scottish Water holds and gathers vast data sets relating to water and wastewater pumping stations and their related operating environments. The effort required to monitor, generate and communicate this is significant, and the resultant information is often not utilised to extract maximum value. In short, opportunities to gain insights are being missed.

The water industry has traditionally operated in a reactive manner when responding to events that impact the network. However, recent advances in signal processing techniques in relation to condition monitoring – where related precursor signals can be utilised to predict issues and initiate actions to mitigate events – means that a proactive maintenance approach can be used to reduce impact on wider system function.

Scottish Water operates a large number of pumps as part of its operations. These are often deployed in remote and demanding environments, where failure can impact quality of service and repairs can be costly and time consuming. Existing monitoring systems provide data on pump performance, but do not support the more nuanced decision-making that forms the basis of more efficient infrastructure maintenance strategies.

Working with the University of Strathclyde, Scottish Water aims to move towards taking a more proactive control approach to asset management. The project will consider a spectrum of techniques to identify key signatures within large volumes of sensor-derived data that can be used to establish a decision support environment amenable to deployment in Scottish Water’s network, allowing the organisation to optimise the performance of its equipment in the field.

Potential Impact

Decision support environments remain a relatively new platform in relation to the management of water infrastructure. The refinement and analysis of very large volumes of data would allow Scottish Water to move towards a richer applications-based environment centred on prediction and maintenance scheduling. Being able to intervene in a timely manner and execute preventative maintenance strategies will result in significant cost savings; improved equipment reliability will lead to reduced outages, lower operating penalties and ultimately higher margins. Additionally, variability of supply will be minimised since potential pump failures will be more effectively managed.

The programme represents an ideal partnership. Scottish Water has a direct need and researchers University of Strathclyde have expertise in the techniques required to address the business challenge. The output of the project has the potential to transform the ongoing maintenance and management of assets, contributing to significant financial efficiencies while improving the service Scottish Water provides for its customers.

Further Reading

For more information about this project read the press release or take a look at our interactive Project Profile.

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