Queensland water utility Unitywater has teamed up with a global software supplier to provide the state’s smaller water utilities with access to greater insights into network events, such as leaks, bursts, supply interruptions and changes in water pressure.

Unitywater and TaKaDu, a provider of integrated event management solutions for the water industry, have collaborated to enable TaKaDu to offer its IoT cloud­-based solution to other water utilities across Queensland.

Unitywater and TaKaDu have been working together since June 2013 when Unitywater started a long­-term engagement with TaKaDu to improve overall network visibility and efficiency, reducing costs and losses.

Unitywater adopted TaKaDu’s software­as­a­service (SaaS) on a trial basis, and then extended the contract for three years once the product was proven to us as a result of the trial. The solution provides Unitywater with real­time knowledge and alerts to network abnormalities such as leaks, bursts and pressure problems.

TaKaDu’s software uses Unitywater’s existing meter and sensor readings, advanced statistical algorithms and web applications to detect unusual trends or anomalies.

The software has artificial intelligence that learns how the system operates over time, and takes into account weather patterns, diurnal flow, and can even provide information on the effects on consumption from peak periods and can distinguish Christmas Day and when a State of Origin game is playing.

A monitoring report is provided in real time, which allows Unitywater to proactively track events and respond to changes as quickly as possible in Unitywater’s vast water supply network, which is comprised of 5,731km of water main pipes, 114 water reservoirs and 79 water pump stations.

The software is providing better insights into how the reticulation network is actually operating in smaller areas, which means Unitywater has been able to address existing issues around pressure and flow management, improving management of assets and network.

Having the TaKaDu software has increased access to information across several business areas at Unitywater, enabling decision makers to be more informed about the network, challenges, events and improvement opportunities.

Some other benefits include: reduced costs (e.g. managing leaks and chemical dosing); increased reporting abilities to staff, management and the Board; increased energy efficiency; improved asset planning and reduced response times.

Partnering for smaller business

The new offering combines Unitywater’s TaKaDu knowledge and experience with a proven solution that has been adopted by leading water utilities in Australia and across the globe.

This offer will provide network monitoring, leak detection and network prediction services to small water utilities (those with less than 2,000 km of pipeline).

These smaller utilities will be able to leverage the benefits of Unitywater’s size and familiarity with TaKaDu by adding their service area to Unitywater’s TaKaDu system.

The offer promotes collaboration across Queensland water utilities, a key objective of the Queensland Water Directorate (QWD).

The new arrangement came about from a discussion between the CEOs of Unitywater and TaKaDu about the QWD’s objective to have larger water entities assist the smaller water utilities with technology and solutions to common issues and challenges.

It was decided that the TaKaDu system could be of great benefit to utilities with less than 2,000km of network, and that a larger entity, such as Unitywater, could provide support with additional data to allow the system to operate effectively for these utilities.

The offer creates economies of scale by leveraging the investment Unitywater has made into the system and enabling other utilities to leverage that investment to benefit their customers.

Amir Peleg, the CEO and founder of TaKaDu, announced the arrangement between Unitywater and TaKaDu to offer this service at the recent OZWater Conference.

Five Queensland utilities have since viewed the system, and TaKaDu is currently discussing with some of them how the set­up and system can operate in their work environments.

Feedback from the small water utilities has been excellent. All the utilities understand the benefits to them in how water loss can be better managed in real time; and most of their questions are concerning how the SaaS physically operates via the cloud.

The benefit to Unitywater from this relationship is that when there are more utilities’ network data in the system, the algorithm in the TaKaDu system becomes even smarter, and everyone shares better intelligence on how their networks are performing. TaKaDu has set up a quarterly user group forum

for all users, which will create closer working groups between the Queensland utilities, and form stronger ties and knowledge sharing throughout the utilities.

Once they come on board, TaKaDu will provide training to all new users as the software owner, and will be able to utilise prior knowledge provided from Unitywater’s experience to assist the utilities in identifying actions to take when anomalies and events occur.

There will also be an opportunity for Unitywater in the quarterly user group forums to assist other Queensland utilities as they develop their smart water networks.

The offer of the TaKaDu system and Unitywater data enables water utilities to realise the benefits sooner, with a cheaper entry point and ability to establish a fully operational system in a quicker timeframe than normal.

Unitywater CEO George Theo said TaKaDu had changed for the better the way Unitywater managed its water network.

“Since deploying TaKaDu in our network, we have achieved $16 million in savings from hidden (underground) leaks and prevented 6.5 billion litres of water loss based on an annualised calculation,” Mr Theo said.

“There has also been a 60 per cent improvement in reactive response times to leak, break and pressure faults in the reticulation network.

The software has learned how our system operates and has helped us avoid major water outages, identify the cause of dirty water complaints, identify pump faults that cause bursts before they happen and track the status of events from start to finish.

“It is exciting to think that other water utilities can now experience similar benefits as part of this new offer which, previously, would have been out of reach.”

TaKaDu CEO Amir Peleg said, “We’re proud of our collaboration with Unitywater, an early adopter of TaKaDu and a recognised industry leader in innovation and technology.

“Our offering gives other utilities a unique opportunity to maximise the value of their data and improve their network performance, leveraging Unitywater’s deep knowledge of our system.”

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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