Monitoring water networks for leaks is an essential part of any modern water loss management program. 

In Australia, monitoring water networks for leaks is becoming increasingly important as the country faces growing demand for water resources and the need to manage the impacts of climate change. 

A key obstacle to the wider adoption of monitoring technologies was their installation, operation and maintenance costs. Water network leak monitoring systems were expensive to install and required ongoing maintenance to ensure their accuracy and reliability. This made it difficult for water utilities to justify the investment, particularly if little value is placed on water losses due to the low marginal cost of water or a perception that the utility will not face water shortages soon.

A new product called the SmartEAR seeks to reduce the costs of water utilities by no longer requiring two or even three different devices to detect a leak, record it and transmit data to the cloud. The SmartEAR performs all these functions in one device. Labour costs can also be reduced as these smart acoustic loggers can be installed easily using the SmartEAR-GO app.

The SmartEAR monitors key water reticulation lines for leaks on a 24/7 basis, but especially during the quieter night-time hours – without an operator having to be present. 

With a strong magnet, it is attached to existing access points as provided by hydrants or valves. Placed at distances of 100 to 250m apart, it continuously monitors leaks in the pipe sections of that part of the network by recording associated noises and vibrations. 

Its cloud-based platform Poseyedon analyses this data, including the noise files, to determine the probability of a leak. It can even provide for a cloud-based correlation to track down the location of a leak to typically within 10–25m.

Using a tool like the SebaKMT HL7000 ground microphone, a leak can then readily be localised within minutes for digging and repair, as opposed to old school requiring days in the field to walk meters of pipelines, some of them at night when it is quieter, to pinpoint a leak. 

With thousands of SmartEARs already deployed across Europe, trial results have shown accuracy and reliability of 99 per cent. With an eight-year battery life, ongoing maintenance is minimal. When the battery does run out, all that is required is swapping out the battery through a quick on-site low-cost procedure. 

Water networks are complex systems with many different components. Monitoring and managing them effectively can be difficult. Water utilities need access to the right tools and expertise to manage their networks and respond appropriately to any issues effectively.

When network managers receive the SmartEAR and deploy them within their network, they are assigned to a cloud account. 

Next, the respective measurement data is fed directly into it. The specific GPS position of each SmartEAR is recorded and saved on-site in seconds using the SmartEAR-GO app or later in the office via the site manager function of the Poseyedon cloud platform.

Once in operation, the SmartEAR determines daily the probability of leakage in the water network. All that is required is a dedicated utility resource to view the data and take action on leak alerts. 

If a user does not have that resource, WaterGroup, Australia’s reseller of the SmartEAR, offers an AWARE service where they can perform those tasks to monitor for network leaks remotely.

The SmartEAR will not take away all the complexities utilities face but makes dealing with them a lot easier, especially with Poseyedon, the associated software platform.

The platform is also capable of connecting to and displaying other devices to monitor networks, like DMA flow meters or pressure monitoring. Poseyedon can also integrate SmartEAR data via API with other software platforms.

Water network leak monitoring with SmartEAR reduces the risk of undetected water leaks and associated larger infrastructure failures, especially disruptive bursts. 

Water utilities can detect leaks or other issues before they become major problems by monitoring their networks. This helps to reduce the risk of water damage to property and the cost of repairing and replacing infrastructure. 

By improving the reliability of the water supply, water network leak monitoring helps to ensure that households and businesses have access to clean, safe, reliable and affordable water when needed. 

Most importantly, it reduces water losses through the unnecessary waste of water. The demand on water utilities, and the expectations placed on them to address leaks, will escalate rapidly if Australia enters another El Nino induced severe drought phase, as currently predicted. 

The SmartEAR comes pre-programmed to enable quick leak detection. Its magnetic attachment and built-in NB-IoT/CAT-M1 combi SIM make it a simple Plug & Play installation.

This smart, next-generation IoT noise/vibration logger enables Australian utilities to locate leaks in their supply network in a targeted and cost-effective manner in the shortest possible time. Within months, users can drastically reduce leakage rates, minimise water losses, reduce energy and operating costs, and begin recovering acquisition costs. 

Implementing new technology requires careful consideration of the costs, benefits, and complexity of water network leak management. The SmartEAR seeks to address these challenges so water utilities can harness the power of IoT-based water network leak monitoring to create a more sustainable and efficient water system in Australia.  

For more information on the SmartEAR, click here.

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