Future-telling gadget to prevent major bursts on trunk mains – and save water

Mar 13, 2012

Hugely disruptive water-wasting bursts on major mains could become a thing of the past, thanks to a hi-tech computer system that can predict the future, Thames Water said. The company is the first in the world to use TrunkMinder devices, designed to detect tiny underground leaks on big supply pipes before they develop into big bursts, like the one that flooded shops on London’s Oxford Street in January.

The invention, developed by UK pipeline technology firm Syrinix, aims to put an end to trunk main bursts that interrupt customers’ supplies, flood roads, train lines and even people’s homes.
And with a drought declared following below average rainfall for 19 of the past 24 months, the gadgets could also to save massive amount so water companies tens of millions of pounds in repair bills and compensation pay-outs.
Piers Clark, commercial director for Thames Water, said:
“With responsibility for many thousands of miles of trunk mains, many of which are over 100 years old and are under one of the busiest cities in the world, a system that enables us to pin-point where they might break is invaluable. TrunkMinders will help us save water lost by major bursts, reduce disruption for customers and save money on repairs.”
“Although it will take a good few years to fit these devices across all of our major strategic water mains, we have fitted a handful and they are working well.”
James Dunning, chief executive of Syrinix, said:
“Major trunk mains carry millions of litres of water at very high pressure, and when they burst the results are often as spectacular as they are devastating.
“TrunkMinder gives water companies a heads-up on when and where their most important water infrastructure is going to fail, which means engineers can be dispatched to fix small underground leaks before they deteriorate into major bursts.
“In the same way our central nervous system sends pain signals from our foot to our brain if we stand on a thorn, so water companies can now have smart networks that tells them where otherwise hidden weak points are before they become big breaks.”
Sensors in the TrunkMinder boxes fit onto trunk mains at 750-metre intervals, monitoring vibro-acoustic patterns caused by water running through the pipes.
Second-by-second data is beamed back to a web-based information processor, which analyses algorithms 24 hours a day, comparing it to previously-collected data. The slightest deviation that could indicate a leak on a pipe triggers an alarm, pin-pointing the problem to the nearest metre.

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Thames Water Utilities Limited

Simon Evans

Vastern Road

RG1 8DB Reading

United Kingdom


(+44) 0203 577 4364




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