Icon Water has been delivering water and sewerage services to the nation’s capital and surrounding areas for over 100 years. More recently, the utility has been focusing on modernising its systems and processes, recognising the importance of big data and analytics in informing business decisions. It’s this data-driven approach that won Icon Water the 2017 Australian Water Association’s Infrastructure Project Innovation Award.

Icon Water service Australia’s largest inland city with a reach of roughly 400,000 people through 6,600km of water and sewerage pipes and an asset portfolio worth over $2 billion.

Last year, Icon Water, in collaboration with industry partners SEAMS and AECOM, won the 2017 Asset Management Council Cost, Risk and Performance Excellence Award and the ACT Australian Water Association’s Infrastructure Project Innovation Award for its customer-centric approach to its Sewer Network Maintenance program using big data.

These awards recognise how Icon Water has applied Enterprise Decision Analytics to develop its Sewer Network Maintenance program to achieve a balance between cost, risk and performance objectives.

The project is an example of an emerging area in asset management using big data and advanced analytics to inform investment decisions. SEAMS UK and AECOM developed the asset management model in conjunction with the University of Exeter in the UK. The model has been used widely with UK utilities, including Scottish Water, Yorkshire Water, Sever Trent Water and South West Water – but is a first for Australia.

Minimising maintenance disruption to customers 

Enterprise Decision Analytics allows Icon Water to effectively locate high risk sewer pipes in the network to ensure they can minimise impact to customers. It allows for efficiency improvements in completing maintenance activities and monitor the “hit rate” for locating pipes to repair or replace through CCTV work investigation.

The greatest value comes from being able to model customer impact of sewer breaks and blockages. This means Icon Water can estimate the probability and impact of sewerage incidents to customers, which will allow prioritisation of works to proactively prevent incidents.

Icon Water’s General Manager Infrastructure Services, Ray Hezkial, highlights the benefit to utilities when they put the needs of the customer first.

“Previously, modelling for renewal works was heavily influenced by the age of the infrastructure, not necessarily on what impact it might have on the customer,” Mr Hezkial said.

“The assumption was that the older the pipe, the more risk of it breaking. What we found with our Enterprise Decision Analytics modelling is that this assumed relationship was not the case.

“The Enterprise Decision Analytics model highlighted that our water and sewerage pipes laid in the 1960’s-1970’s were more likely to break or block and have a greater impact on customers than our pipes that are closer to 100 years old.

“Going forward our mains renewal program is now based on our award winning Enterprise Decision Analytics which ensures we can proactively minimise impacts to our customers by more effectively targeting areas that are susceptible to failure.

“Our targeted sewer mains renewal program has already reduced blockages by 60 per cent since 2008, more than double our original target.

“Our water and sewer mains renewal program in 2018 will be one of our bigger years, with over 26km of pipe in over 40 suburbs across Canberra to be replaced before 30 June.”

A digital asset management strategy

Mr Hezkial highlighted the focus of Icon Water to ensure its technology systems and processes stay modern to continue to deliver value for customers.

“The next three years will be significant for Icon Water. We gave ourselves the mandate in our Enterprise Asset Management Strategy to maximise value to customers by balancing cost, risk and performance,” Mr Hezkial said.

“A major deliverable in that strategy is the continuous improvement of asset information and data systems and the renewal of our asset and works management system.

“To ensure we continue doing great work for our community it is important we continually improve our systems and processes, and develop our people in the skills to use them.”

For more information go to iconwater.com.au or follow Icon Water on Twitter @iconwater. 

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