Fighting water with electronics

Halma Water Management (HWM) says its products evolve as a result of it paying attention to customers' needs. One such customer is United Utilities, which, through its a strong relationship with HWM, is reaping the benefits.

United Utilities (UU) is one of the largest UK operators of water systems, a FTSE 100 company that provides around 2Bl of water daily, through 40,000km of water mains, to around seven million people in the North-west. It also manages water networks such as Dwr Cymru in Wales, and others around the world.

Paul Parr is UU's East Region leakage planner, responsible for the planning, monitoring and performance management of his division. This currently comprises 106 staff tasked with maintaining and improving the efficient supply of potable water to the region. As a part of his responsibilities, Parr is required to determine what equipment can best aid the staff in performing their jobs.

Over the years, Parr and his division have built up a strong relationship with Halma Water Management (HWM). By listening to the input and feedback from the customer, HWM has identified and implemented fixes and features that were specifically desired, enabling it to provide a better service and product.

Recently, it was decided that an upgrade to the existing noise-logging system was needed.

Upgrade needed
Although all the devices on the market were trialled and tested, UU chose the Permalog+.Parr says: "Efficiency is key in our jobs. The new Permalog+ units are already proving their worth with the installation teams, who are reporting far quicker patrol times, allowing them to conduct more work.

"Halma Water Management has listened to us and the new Permalog+ has incorporated a lot of the additional functions we required.

The new units can have their batteries changed, they feature wireless connectivity, and the patrolling is quicker. The major bonus though is the Aqualog utility, providing a graph of the data for instant analysis and fine-tuning of the loggers - letting them do tasks which just couldn't be done before."

Larger project
The Permalog+ is the latest incarnation in the range of acoustic noise-loggers
from Palmer, incorporating enhancements to functionality, usability and versatility. The units that UU is using are the traditional drive-by versions, which have a new PDA-based Bluetooth Patroller unit, replete with integral Aqualog noise-logging mode, customisable programming, radio connectivity and historical data storage for comparisons over time.

Parr says: "The new Permalogs are also being installed on a larger project in Liverpool. We are using these to try to reduce the time that it takes to locate leaks on the system by having the loggers permanently installed in the area."

UU is also using MicroCorr Digital correlators, MAST step test systems, Leakfinders, Xmic ground microphones, PRV controllers, and has just installed 1,500 PD10 meter pulse discs, all from HWM. It has also just completed trials and begun to install the latest HWM Hydrins insertion probes.

Parr says: "New technology has enabled us to become more efficient while giving us the ability to better pinpoint the more difficult leaks."

The correlators, ground mics, Permalogs and MASTs are used by the leakage detection staff on both proactive and reactive detection duties throughout UU.

The PRV Controller units on their Pressure Management Valves control pressure throughout the network and the PD10s register the flow on the District Meters to identify areas for the leak detection resources to target. The Hydrins probes are being brought in to monitor upstream losses and leakage on the large-diameter trunk mains.

Parr says: "We can discuss new developments and products that we need with them, and how they can be of benefit to us. For instance, as a direct result of our discussions with Jonathan Smith [UK key account manager at HWM], a car-charging facility has been introduced for the correlators. And the PDAs we were already using for other tasks are now being used by some with the new MicroCorr 7 correlator, allowing less kit to be carried, with lower numbers of units needing to be purchased and repaired.

"The correlators are used every day and every night by our teams and they love them."

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