Articles & Case Studies

United Utilities – using the Earth’s rotation to improve the quality of your water

Posted: Friday 15th February 2013

United Utilities provides water and sewage services to around seven million people in North West England. The company is currently investing more than £3 billion to improve the water and wastewater infrastructure and the environment across the North West, including providing upgrades to 575 wastewater treatment works and 100 water treatment work


The goal of all water treatment processes is to remove or reduce the concentration of contaminants so it becomes fit for re-use. To meet increasing regulatory demands requires 24/7 operation, but a failure of a system can, in a worst case scenario, lead to untreated effluent leaking and contaminating clean water. Maintenance teams therefore need to be quickly directed with more accurate information about the root cause of a problem.

United Utilities has been actively improving water quality - to more than 99.9%. To help guarantee cleaner water required a method for accurately monitoring the performance of filters and water feeds in the circular treatment beds. It was decided that a low cost transmitter and receiver system was required to improve this monitoring, and in addition would help reduce the need for regular visits to these remote sites, saving time and reducing costs.


United Utilities selected wireless specialist Wood & Douglas, to create a remote monitoring solution based on its secure, low cost VHF wireless 200T DI (digital input) transmitters and 200RM/R receiver. These incorporate an integral helical antenna with a line of sight range of up to 500m providing a wide variety of options for installation throughout United Utilities water treatment works.

Designed to be used straight out of the box, Wood & Douglas was able to quickly deploy 200T DI transmitters and a 200RM/R central receiver to create a low cost point-to-point alarm link incorporating both rotational and switched monitoring which would normally be captured individually. The 200T DI combines a unique digital compass module which detects rotational movement through the earth’s magnetic field, ideal for monitoring the revolving arms on the biological filters. The 200T RM then transmits a pulse for each rotation which is received by the 200RM/R. When combined with information from the switch alarm on the water feed it becomes possible to quickly establish whether loss of rotation is a condition of flow, or a true alarm where action is required, such as the arm jamming.

The accurate identification of a problem, whether on the water feed or the rotation system, helps United Utilities prioritise maintenance visits to these often remotely located sites. It means teams have the correct tools and replacement parts to make a repair, quickly and in the most cost effective manner, ensuring high quality water treatment continues with minimal disruption of service.

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August 2021

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