A quest to find innovative technologies for managing deteriorating water infrastructure

August 24, 2018

Various sectors use a range of technologies to manage deteriorating infrastructure; what technologies could work in the water sector?

 

By Erez Allouche and Ayu Sari

Water utilities are continually looking for ways to manage their infrastructure investments that achieve higher system reliability and asset service level at a lower cost. Sectors such as aviation, chemicals, manufacturing, and nuclear power utilize innovative prognostic technologies to manage their assets, and these technologies are slowly starting to migrate to the water sector through technology performance piloting programs and implementation by early adaptors.

As technologies emerge for the water sector, application issues, cost-benefits, reliability, maintenance, durability, and performance need to be continually evaluated to develop fit-for-purpose solutions and minimize application risks.

 

 

Our team is working with the Water Research Foundation and a group of nearly 50 water utilities, technology providers, and academia from North America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East on the research project “Innovative Technologies to Effectively Manage Deteriorating Infrastructure.” The research project is aimed at identifying and mapping emerging technologies that provide potential for more effective solutions for inspecting, monitoring, and overall managing aging water conveyance systems.

 

Details of the infrastructure technologies study

 Specific objectives developed for achieving the project goal include:

  • Review the literature to identify smart technology developments and their potential use with water industry assets.
  • Survey the water industry to understand smart technology and intelligent platform implementation needs.
  • Obtain information from equipment and software developers, management associations, and academics to assess the range of developing and installed solutions in use by adjacent and water industries.
  • Provide case studies that detail leading practices in the application of prognostic maintenance to the water sector.
  • Report the findings of the study.

_q_tweetable:Technological advances in infrastructure facility management provide an effective means of optimizing system reliability while reducing lifecycle costs._q_We recently completed the first phase of the project, which consisted of compiling and critically reviewing emerging technologies and software platforms within the water sector. We also evaluated the applicability of innovative prognostic technologies developed by the aviation, chemicals, manufacturing, mining and nuclear power industries to the water sector. To date, more than 20 technologies for condition assessment of linear and vertical assets have been identified. In addition, to complement the results from the literature review task, we conducted a survey to gain information about the status of knowledge in water industry about asset management and inspection practices. So far, we’ve received 54 responses which are currently being analyzed. Our next step will be to develop case studies that highlight the use of innovative technologies for asset condition assessment, pipeline repair, and rehabilitation, as well as data management in both water and non-water industries. The case studies will be tracking the progression of technologies such as fiber-optics based monitoring systems and ultrasonic-based inspection technologies, as new capabilities evolve.  

We believe that the successful outcome of this study is contingent upon cross functional collaboration among diverse groups within Stantec. In this project, Stantec Research group collaborates with sector and practice leaders from conveyance, tunneling and trenchless technologies, and intelligence platforms. Despite being a water-centric project, we believe that this project can greatly benefit by acquiring  inputs form multiple disciplines that share similar asset characteristics such as oil & gas, transportation, and power transmission. This collaborative and integrated model provides a competitive advantage to our practice leaders to solve issues pertaining to aging infrastructure management.

 

Progression of asset maintenance strategies

 

How a study on infrastructure technologies can help the water sector

Technological advances in infrastructure facility management provide an effective means of optimizing system reliability while reducing lifecycle costs. Advanced metering, innovative data management, and predictive analytics are rapidly being developed and deployed to support real-time prognostic maintenance programs.

Historically, the water industry has been a slower adaptor of these technologies than other industries, due to the large geographical distribution of their assets, a prior insufficiency in investment capital, and the inherent conservatism associated with serving a product that must protect public health. However, the industry is now at the threshold of prognostic maintenance implementation and would benefit tremendously from a holistic understanding of their system needs relative to available and developing solutions.

 

How to get involved in the project

This project provides a great opportunity to be involved in cross functional collaborative effort that address one of the most important topics currently in water industry. 

We are currently identifying potential projects pertaining to asset management to be included as case studies. We are interested in including projects that highlight the use of innovative technologies for asset condition assessment, pipeline repair and rehabilitation, as well as data management in both water and non-water industries. We would greatly appreciate if we can get more inputs about available technologies or interesting projects related to this topic. We would also be interested to learn more about bench-scale/prototype stage condition assessment technologies that are currently under development. Any inputs/questions can be directed to Erez Allouche or Ayu Sari.

 

About the authors

Erez Allouche, based in Edmonton, Alberta, has devoted much of the past 20 years of his career to research and practice in underground infrastructure. He’s familiar with nearly 60 different rehabilitation systems, and he’s the inventor and holder of 17 patents in the fields of trenchless technology and material science. 

Ayu Sari is an environmental scientist/engineer based in our Pasadena, California, office. Ayu is a member of the Stantec Research group and focuses on water-related issues, including water quality, water/wastewater treatment processes, as well as energy and asset management.

 

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