Articles & Case Studies

Innovative alarm system delivers for Welsh Water

Posted: Monday 3rd June 2013

The UK water industry is sharply focussed on the operation, maintenance and management of assets while at the same time reducing inefficiencies wherever possible.

No more so than at Dwr Cymru Welsh Water (DCWW) whose asset management strategy has pulled in expertise from its supply chain to ensure the future delivery of safe drinking water.

DCWW has developed a close working relationship with security specialists First Alert and within a year is already seeing the positive results of the partnership.

The installation of a new hatch alarm system across DCWWs asset base namely underground drinking water reservoirs has helped reduce the number of false alarms.

AMP6 preparation

DCWW supplies drinking water to some three million people and operates 10,000 sites. The upgrading and maintaining of its hatch alarm system is integral to the companys work towards the forthcoming AMP6 period (due to start in 2015). The investment is also in response to Government guidance on security issued to utilities, the public sector and other major organisations.

First Alerts role has been to develop and install an alarm system to prevent wrongful access to DCWWs reservoir hatches.

The company specialises in the development and manufacture of security products and systems and has drawn on its experience from a range of areas including the retail and manufacturing sectors and the disciplines used there to create a cutting edge solution to answer DCWWs brief.

Its approach started last year with a comprehensive scoping exercise of all DCWWs sites indeed the exercise is ongoing given the number and geographical spread of the sites. Having assessed the requirement, First Alert has developed a solution which involves sophisticated sensors supported by a software package to record activity and analyse the data collected which is relayed to DCWWs control centre.

By ensuring the system can interface with DCWWs Modbus protocols, First Alerts software writers have given control room staff direct access to invaluable site specific information should problems occur, police can be directed to the actual hatch on any given site.

The sensors are being fitted to water stock hatches and work in conjunction with DCWWs existing telemetry. The use of this infrastructure instead of installing new and extensive cabling means significant savings can be realised on a project of this scale and size. The software is designed to manage out false alarms, again saving considerable operative and management time, and ultimately costs.

Intuitive system

The technology is without doubt advanced, capable of recognising false alarms triggered by environmental factors including wildlife and weather which come into play given the nature of the location and terrain of many of DCWWs sites and therefore hatches. The system interrogates the information being received and enables those operating the control centre to make informed decisions as to the most appropriate response to any hatch activation.

The systems functionality also allows for operational factors is hatch maintenance or sampling taking place? Is there a grass cutter in operation that could have activated a signal? And staff access to every hatch is managed by the control centre, improving monitoring through the more efficient use of workforce time.

Knowledge transfer

The First Alert package being delivered to DCWW extends to knowledge transfer via the training of DCWW staff. An initial 15 surveyors have been trained in the capabilities of the hatch alarm system who in turn will be able to deliver in-house training to colleagues, enabling them to gain a greater understanding of DCWWs obligations and duties per AMP6.

Furthermore, First Alert is supporting DCWW in the development of procedures and protocols for dealing with false alarms and incident management, as well as performing security audits of other important assets such as chemical stores.

First Alert is bringing experience gleaned from other sectors to bear in helping DCWW achieve high security standards and improved operational performance across its key assets. First Alert has security expertise in the retail, industrial and manufacturing sectors and works closely with regulators and industry bodies for example, the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Indeed, its technology for DCWW meets all ACPO recommendations, and is approved by the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). First Alerts contract with DCWW covers round-the-clock call outs, service and maintenance in line with the National Security Inspectorate (NSI).

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