LeakNavigator showcased at global innovation summit

LeakNavigator showcased at global innovation summit

Ovarro’s chief technology officer Matthew Hawkridge was a speaker at World Water-Tech Innovation Summit 2023 in London in February. His presentation, Leakage as a Service, opened the smart asset management segment and put the spotlight on Ovarro’s new LeakNavigator solution.

In this blog, we highlight insights shared by Matthew at the summit:

“Exciting advances have been happening in leak detection, in the form of leakage-as-a-service.

One of the most effective ways to detect leaks on water networks is to use acoustic loggers. A network is traditionally saturated with fixed acoustic loggers or on a DMA (district metered area) with high volumes of reported leakage, monitored using a number of “lift and shift” loggers which can be moved around as needs arise.

Acoustic loggers monitor the sound travelling down the water column when the network is quiet during the night. These acoustic recordings are then uploaded to a cloud platform using mobile network comms over 4G and IoT or legacy 2G comms. Water utilities have teams of analysts which follow up on the points of interest (POIs) to determine whether they are leaks. Once a leak location has been confirmed, the utility will dig down to look for it. 

Limitations of the traditional approach

This approach is the de-facto method for detecting and fixing leaks in the industry and while it is effective, there are a number of limitations.

There are usually a high number of false positives identified which, when followed up, prove not to be leaks – perhaps there were other events on the network that sounded like a leak, such as industrial equipment or pressure release valves.

These false positives could result in teams digging into the ground to find a leak which isn’t there, which can waste time and resource and be disruptive to the public. Additionally, too many false positives or repeat visits can lead to low morale in the field and analytics teams. If the process used by analysts to determine which POIs to follow-up on is not effective, the analysis time can be highly inefficient and costly.

Some water utilities have increased their capital expenditure on loggers - they’ve purchased more of the same – but if the wrong loggers have been installed and / or are in the wrong locations, low POI-to-leak conversion rates will be achieved, resulting in a lower return on investment.

A fully managed leakage service

We have recently launched a leakage service called LeakNavigator, which combines our industry-leading acoustic logger technology with an end-to-end service. Our aim is to utilise specialist equipment and enhance capital spend in the right way.

This service starts with consultation, DMA by DMA, which determines the optimum deployment for new and existing loggers.  We have built analytic tools which suggest an optimum deployment plan, backed up by a team of skilled analysts. Logger type and distances between installations are also recommended.

Once the loggers are deployed, we ensure they are operational and maintained. Our expectation is that over 90% of the loggers call in every day with correlations. The leakage data for each DMA is analysed by our powerful analytics software bringing fixed criteria and machine learning into one process.

The POI is then passed to water utilities’ field technicians, who can go directly to the POI, and verify the leak using an advanced mobile app. Since the launch of LeakNavigator, in autumn 2022, we have achieved over 85% POI-to-leak conversion rate across five contracts, with two customers currently achieving 95%.

We are currently creating a follow-on training course to enhance the technicians’ skills in locating leaks on plastic networks.  This will further increase performance.

Measuring service performance

Live leakage data is presented in a dashboard and reviewed regularly with an account manager. Information displayed includes performance against company KPIs, leak classifications, automated correlation profiling for multiple logger points and logger performance updates.

Our key messages are:

The efficiency and effectiveness of traditional leak detection can be greatly improved by adopting an end-to-end leakage service.

Automation, skilled teams and in-field mobile applications are used to deliver the service.

Dashboards are used to measure the service and ensure it is delivering on KPIs.

LeakNavigator, Ovarro’s new end-to-end solution for locating leaks, will help you minimise input and maximise efficiency. Find out more about LeakNavigator here.