Articles & Case Studies

The Future is Control at Northumbrian Water as IVL Flow Control make major breakthrough with a new Autonomous Water Distribution System

Posted: Wednesday 18th December 2013

“If you control your network, you will then start to take total control of leakage and burst frequencies throughout your distribution system”, says Craig Stanners, Director at IVL Flow Control. And by ‘control’, Stanners says he means control of every drop of water from the treatment works right through to the customers’ taps.

IVL Flow Control (part of F J Holdings) is due to complete what promises to be a highly successful trial with Northumbrian Water that will significantly enhance the water company’s network management, minimising leakage levels and burst frequencies.

Utilising a new range of multi-function valves, IVL Flow Control has provided Northumbrian Water’s regional control room with a secure self-regulating distribution network that guarantees customer level of service at all times, eliminating:

· Low pressure/no water events.

· High pressure events that stress the pipe network, potentially resulting in burst mains.

· High flow rates resulting in possible dirty/discoloured water events.

Dr Brian Plemper from Northumbrian Water commented: “This concept was developed by Martyn Redman, Technical Director (IVL Flow Control Ltd) and myself. The ‘Autonomous Water Distribution System’ concept means we will have a truly robust network control philosophy to provide new pressure and flow-management techniques that automate network control.

In addition to minimising both ‘no water’ and low pressure incidents, asset lifetime will be greatly extended and maintenance costs reduced. Additionally, the system regulates flows and pressures, thus calming the network. This in turn results in the reduction of leakage and burst frequencies. It has also provided us with a tool that enables us to self-optimise the network based on the cost and water production”.

‘minimise SIM Points’

He added: “We anticipate a sharp fall in customer complaints and DG level of service infringements, which will minimise SIM (service incentive mechanism) Points. This will occur because we now have a greater degree of control of our network, plus the fact that the new IVL Multi-Functional control valves also have hydraulic fail-safes built into their designs, which ensure safe operation of our networks by preventing low pressure and ‘no water’ incidents.”

Operators of Northumbrian Water’s Wearside trunk mains system (comprising three water treatment works and eight ground water stations) would routinely have to manage and coordinate 12 Electrically Operated Valves to maintain the integrity of the network. However, with the introduction of an autonomous control system, this will be reduced to the active control of just 4 key valves. The IVL Multi-Functional Control valves respond to the changes made to the 4 key valves and automatically reroute water across the distribution system in response to demand and source availability. The autonomous control system can also be tuned to minimize the cost of water delivery. The system automatically selects the cheapest water source and maximizes its use before moving on to select the next source on a cost basis. This selection process takes place automatically at the key node and requires no sophisticated computer algorithm.

“This adds a completely different dimension to network control”, says IVL’s Craig Stanners.

‘Security of supply’

“This is a truly autonomous water distribution system,” he said, which ensures security of supply and maintains customer levels of service, whilst importantly delivering water at the lowest possible cost”.

Martyn Redman, Technical Director at IVL Flow Control continued:

“This system can be set up so that sophisticated control systems such as SCADA are not really needed. IVL Flow Control’s new valves can be designed to manage themselves, and as a result this methodology can be applied to any water distribution network, worldwide, regardless of how remote it is. This is achieved because no power is required at non-critical control valve nodes, because the network’s own hydraulic profile is utilised to determine where and when the distribution of water is required (autonomously). If SCADA or telemetry control is needed, our valves only need a 12-24DC volt, 10 watt power source to operate”.

He concluded: “We are also now developing an algorithm in partnership with Northumbrian Water that works in conjunction with this philosophy to enable the flow of water through a control node to be calculated. This means flow meters and their cost and maintenance are eliminated from distribution networks, whilst ensuring that every drop of water is accounted for”.

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July 2021

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