Anglian Water expands transformative AI technology trial

Feb 26, 2024

Following the successful pilot of its digital asset management technology with Anglian Water, Norwegian digital analytics company InfoTiles is embarking on an expanded proof of concept programme.

The on-going collaboration with the UK utility will use its artificial intelligence (AI) driven software to manage roughly 317 biofilters, along with pumps and valves, and will be extended from 24 sites to 100. The continued partnership establishes the ambition that Anglian Water will be able to move towards fully integrating the InfoTiles technology to enhance day-to-day operational visibility.

While the proof-of-concept programme is still proving the benefits of the solution, full integration will create better-informed asset management decision-making and allow for further understanding of maintenance prioritisation of water recycling assets.

Approximately 483 data points will be measured across all assets included in the scale-up. The water recycling centres will be chosen based on current model predictions and for their ability to send relevant asset data to the InfoTiles software. Additionally, many of the sites vary in terms of system design and scale, which demonstrates that InfoTiles is effective across different geographical locations within Anglian Water’s region.

Pilot scope

The initial 12-month pilot of InfoTiles’ software monitored the rotating arms of 76 biofilters at 24 sites over a period of six months, to assess whether they were rotating when needed. It also measured sludge blanket levels in final settlement tanks to monitor optimal ranges for effective operation. The data was collected through a mix of new and existing sensors via supervisory control & data acquisition control (SCADA) systems. This was combined with flow rates and publicly available weather data, to build a rich contextual overview of what was happening at Anglian’s water recycling plants in real-time.

What is more, InfoTiles also combined Anglian Water’s existing SCADA systems into one event-streaming platform that aggregated, compared, and visualised reliability of the equipment. The strength of the InfoTiles platform is the ability to visualise and model process data through machine-learning, to show the likelihood of critical failures in wastewater treatment, such as potential stoppages and breakdowns.

When fully integrated, this will allow Anglian Water to easily trial and compare different sensor technologies for reliability and accuracy. During the initial pilot phase, 14 machine-learning models were used to identify biofilter deviations and identify whether failure or slowdown was imminent. Four models were selected and brought forward for further development due to their ability to scale.

Proactive troubleshooting

As a result of the pilot and the extend proof of concept, Anglian Water, one of the UK’s largest water utilities, can set its ambitions on anticipating, detecting and resolving potential problems. By continually assessing the health and effectiveness of assets, maintenance teams could be deployed much more efficiently in the future. Adam Wood, chief product officer at InfoTiles said, “Working with the operations team at Anglian Water has given us critical feedback to improve our platform and its ability to give operations teams actionable insights.

A key learning has been the development of methods to leverage the data our utility customers already have available, which is important when considering relevance to assets in use throughout the UK.”

The initial trial has shown promising signs of the feasibility of the technology for Anglian Water, with the data analysis already providing better insights. This is because, at fully operating capacity, the InfoTiles technology can reduce the number of active alarms by alerting operatives to issues before they become critical emergencies.

Anglian’s main goal of the collaboration is to apply InfoTiles to reduce the risk of biofilter failure and therefore augmenting its efforts to prevent the occurrence of serious pollution events from the water recycling centres. A further goal with this is to optimise use of operational resources, by reducing the number of emergency callouts during evenings and weekends, and enabling maintenance decisions based on facts, along with forward planning.

Moving to implementation

During the scale-up stage over the next 12 months, InfoTiles will be working with Anglian Water personnel to further adapt its preventative maintenance processes and onboard internal data scientists to transfer knowledge of the InfoTiles user platform and data analysis.

The success of the pilot programme goes beyond demonstrating the feasibility of the InfoTiles technology, it also shows the value in water utilities working with start-up and scale-up technology companies to find solutions to the most pressing problems within the sector. InfoTiles has an established outcome driven and iterative method which takes a holistic approach, working in close collaboration with partners from initial scoping period to full implementation of the technology, which can take anywhere from six to 18 months, ensuring robust testing and long-term results.

Innovation adoption

The two companies were brought together through WaterStart, a US-based membership platform, which seeks to remove common barriers to the adoption of innovative technologies and connects utilities and municipalities with solution providers globally. "Anglian Water is proud to be involved in the success of the pilot programme, which will transform the way we manage our water recycling sites,” said Mark Stirling at Anglian Water.

“Collaborating with international companies through WaterStart has helped the team to work at pace to find and integrate solutions to improve the service provided." Nathan Allen, executive director at WaterStart, said, “InfoTiles has proven the feasibility of its technology with Anglian Water and WaterStart is thrilled to support the company’s continued expansion into the UK water sector. Effective data management is a global challenge for water utilities, and it is exciting to see the outcomes of the pilot and the scalability among our global membership base.”

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