IoT Underpins Water Efficiency Technology

When the founders of water efficiency technology company Apana noticed that efficient water use was still not being designed into the built environment, they decided to create a monitoring system that could be retrofitted into any plumbing system to identify water wastage.

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When the founders of water efficiency technology company Apana noticed that efficient water use was still not being designed into the built environment, they decided to create a monitoring system that could be retrofitted into any plumbing system to identify water wastage. Apana, which is based in Spokane, Wash., now provides automated water management systems and services for commercial and industrial facilities.

“There’s inherent water waste in buildings,” said Chief Executive Matt Rose. “Financial directors usually treat water as a non-controllable expense in their budgeting; they don’t know that it’s possible to manage water like an inventory item.” That’s how Apana’s conversation with a client usually starts, Rose noted.

“The next stage would be to determine what sort of water monitoring system would make sense within their environment and what would be the expected return for investing into this type of product,” he continued. “We are directly impacted by the cost of water and sewerage within the specific geographical area of individual premises.”

The technology - also called APANA - was showcased at BlueTech Forum in June. It comprises a proprietary Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring system, which interconnects sensors placed throughout the water or sewerage system.

Sensor kits can easily be installed by a commercial plumber and, owing to APANA’s high-resolution data, surprisingly few sensors are required to fully monitor a system.

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Frank Burns, APANA’s co-founder and president/CEO, surveys a location for optimal sensor placement.

Pinpoint Wastage

According to Rose, three buzz words for the system are scan, pinpoint and guide. “APANA scans everything that’s consuming water within a building - 24/7 - and once it detects an anomaly, we have high-performance analytics that can pinpoint a wastage event and guide the frontline worker on how to resolve it,” he explained.

Apana’s target market comprises industrial, commercial and institutional clients with buildings that consume over 18 megaliters per day. The company already has 130 monitoring systems installed in buildings belonging to global retailer Costco Wholesale, which is saving them an average of 22 percent on reduced water consumption.

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APANA’s ability to capture and deliver highly reliable data to its cloud-based analytics platform starts with its technology.

Market Potential

Dr. Corina Carpentier, a water quality monitoring expert and member of the O2 Environmental Technology Assessment Group, said, “Smart sensors connected through the Internet of Things have the potential to dramatically change the nature of water management in buildings.” As water shortage becomes more common, towns, cities and large water users are looking for ways to make their systems more resilient and proactive. “This is an area of the market set for rapid expansion,” she said.

Paul O’Callaghan, Chief Executive of BlueTech Research, said, “APANA caught our attention because they have developed an IoT solution geared toward the commercial sector, suitable for use in buildings. This is an untapped market when it comes to data and monitoring solutions focused on water conservation and loss reduction. Matt and the team at Apana also had some compelling case studies where the value of the solution had been demonstrated.”

Looking to the future, Rose added, “When you go to buildings in all the big cities, water is an afterthought, there’s no one really managing it. Ten years from now we could see all the buildings being touched by our technology in some way - that’s our goal, our vision.”

About the Author: BlueTech® Research (www.bluetechresearch.com) provides investors, water companies, researchers and regulators with critical analysis on emerging water technology market areas. The next BlueTech Forum will take place in Dublin, Ireland, on June 6-7, 2017. For more information, visit www.bluetechforum.com.

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