Employee Innovation Culture Helps Give a Clearer View into Sewers

Apr 17, 2019

A chance encounter over 4,000 miles from United Utilities head office in Warrington gave one employee of the company the opportunity to see a piece of equipment not yet used in the UK water industry in action.

James Deveraux, a wastewater network analyst, was on holiday in America when he spotted a wireless camera being used to inspect the condition of a sewer. Realising  the benefits this equipment might have for optimising the efficiency of surveying United Utilities 72,000 km of sewers, he set himself a challenge to get the company to trial the Quickview zoom camera.

“I had heard about this equipment but with it not being used in the UK, had not had the opportunity see it in action. By chance, I saw an operative using it in America and after spending some time speaking with him, to me it was a no-brainer, the benefits this equipment had over the conventional methods of inspecting sewers was evident.”

United Utilities encourages employees to input ideas and look at innovative technologies to help ensure the company continues to improve. And the importance of listening to employees is not lost on director Kevin Fowlie:

“Innovation is critical for our future capability and to increase our efficiency, whether this be innovative ways of working or innovative technology. Within United Utilities we are passionate about sourcing and receiving innovative ideas not just from the UK but globally and across many industries. We also have a mature innovation culture that is core to our company values which encourages our employees to bring new technology and ideas to us. This is a fantastic example of why it is so important to seek input from employees and reinforces the need to continue to look at opportunities to ensure we continue to deliver the best possible service to customers.”

The Quickview camera has been trialled across part of United Utilities sewer network and James has been delighted, his propensity to pursue and push the use of this equipment has delivered the results he expected:

“The initial trial has backed-up my business case in terms of allowing us to inspect our sewers faster, cheaper and safer. It has been exciting to see the equipment in use and very rewarding to hear the positive feedback from colleagues who have used it. The next stage is to roll out this new technology to other teams across the company.”

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United Utilities Group PLC

Haweswater House, Lingley Mere Business Park, Lingley Green Avenue, Great Sankey


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