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SA Water sensor network reduces repair disruption

A smart sensor network has been instrumental in reducing the impact of water infrastructure breaks and leaks on customers and commuters in Adelaide’s CBD.

A smart sensor network has been instrumental in reducing the impact of water infrastructure breaks and leaks on customers and commuters in Adelaide’s CBD.

SA Water’s $4 million network made up of more than 300 acoustic detection sensors is used to monitor and decipher acoustic sounds, which has allowed the company to detect more than half of all water main breaks and leaks since July 2017.

The sensors cover an average range of 100 metres and monitor around half of the city’s water main network, focusing on cast iron pipes in areas where a potential break would have significant impacts.

Since the introduction of the network, 40 faults have been detected and repaired proactively, compared to 36 that were repaired reactively.

SA Water’s Chief Executive Roch Cheroux said the government owned utility company was the first in the world to implement a range of internet of things enables sensors at scaled in a defined geological area.

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“Our sensors detect around 200 environmental noises every day, and our people and systems continue to improve their understanding of acoustic patterns to help distinguish circumferential or longitudinal cracks in our pipes from other sounds picked up by the technology,” Cheroux said.

“Along with over 300 acoustic sensors, our CBD network comprises smart meters, mass pressure sensors, water quality sensors, mass flow meters and pressure transient/hydrophone sensors.

“Most reactive incidents were sudden failures that didn’t offer any detectable signs, and the reality is there will be some that behave in this way, but they still teach us about how the rest of the network responds.”

Following the trial’s success, SA Water has expanded its smart network to six more locations in South Australia and now includes sewer and odour monitoring.

“While main breaks are often tough to prevent due to soil movement, weather and other environmental factors, we will continue to use initiatives like smart technology to proactively prevent their frequency and reduce potential customer impact,” Cheroux said.

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