Radio Solution brings real-time monitoring benefits for water supplier

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Courtesy of Adcon Telemetry - OTT Hydromet

Introduction of wireless data collection and analysis improves leak detection and water supply efficiency

Companies whose business is the delivery of water to consumers, do not only have a responsibility to provide high quality drinking water to both domestic and industrial users, but also to ensure that it is done so economically and reliably.

The WLV association operates a 1700 kilometre network of pipelines that covers most of Northern Burgenland in Austria; an area of over 2000 square kilometres. It serves 69 communities with around 130,000 inhabitants; during the holiday months this can increase to more than 200,000. The economical operation of plants and the identification of any required maintenance to the network was, in the past, achieved by the work of eight inspection teams. These teams would inspect every single transfer shaft and transfer meter once every month.

The completion of this inspection work was time consuming, expensive and inefficient. With large networks such as those operated by the WLV in Burgenland, the potential benefits of replacing manual inspection with a near-real-time, automatic system were huge in terms of cost and efficiency.

Recognising this opportunity, the WLV has, over the past 36 months, built a complete coverage network. Presently it contains about 260 Adcon remote radio-telemetry stations that read major water meters and monitor processes in the distribution network.

Each of the remote radio metering stations comprises a solar powered, low power wireless data transmission unit. In the WLV application Adcon’s A733 addWAVE and A723 addIT units are used. Each such RTU is connected to up to 4 mechanical water meters, outputting pulses per consumption unit (usually measured in 1, 3 or 5m³ per pulse) via standard reed switches.

The data collected at the remote monitoring stations is transmitted once every 15 minutes (transmission intervals can be freely adjusted) to an A840 Telemetry Gateway that is situated in the WLV headquarters in Eisenstadt. The effective transmission range of each remote metering unit is approximately 20km. To achieve greater transmission distances, data from the furthest stations is relayed via other units to the gateway which allows for large scale monitoring networks.

The immediate advantages of the new system are obvious, with the amount of water losses and the associated cost being drastically reduced. At the same time, the procedure eliminates the risk of eventual undersupply within the area covered.

Compared to the previous pipe inspection practice, around two thirds of the working hours and more than 10,000 kilometres of mileage driven by inspectors per year can be saved. The ability to measure, collect and analyse data at any time, even from remote locations, brings significant benefits in terms of leak detection, consumption profiling and perhaps most importantly time, energy and money savings. Pipe bursts can now be detected up to 95 per cent faster than in the past.

The experience of the current year has shown that on average more than one pipe burst per month was detected literally “over night” and thus a water loss of on average 8,000 m³ (per burst) can be avoided. This corresponds to a total of more than 100,000 m³ per year – the equivalent consumption on three normal winter days of the total WLV supplied, Northern Burgenland area.

What counts even more are the many little leaks uncovered by the system. While pipe bursts are usually detected very fast – either by citizens alarming the supply company via mobile phone or by
an immediate drop in pressure – it’s the small leaks that are usually hard to find, but still cause tremendous losses. While a 1mm² leak in a 5bar supply pipe causes an annual loss of 511m³,
this loss almost doubles in a 10bar pipe line.

Since the hole gets bigger over time so does the loss. At 5mm² this already amounts to a whopping 15.700m³ per year in a main 10-bar transportation pipe! Actual leak detection is done by
consumption profiling. Since metering pulses are summed and stored in 15 minute intervals, an accurate consumption pattern for each section of the pipeline network can be derived from this.

By closely observing the night time lows any unusual increasein consumption can immediately be detected and be acted upon. If consumption results in a parallel shift of the night time low a leak
has occurred. Plans for next year are for a further expansion of the existing network and the addition of a permanent pipeline pressure monitor. This will not only guarantee a uniform supply
pressure, but also detect and give warning of pressure blows that can cause enormous damage and severely disrupt supply.

Commenting on the implementation of Adcon Telemetry’s remote radio metering system Wolfgang Thurner, General Manager of East-Austrian Water Distribution said: “The Adcon system helps us
to detect leakages within a very short period of time, often on the next morning. This is an incredible improvement to prior practice and means a significant reduction in controlling efforts which enables us to manage precious staff resources much more efficiently.'

 

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