Preventing unplanned downtime and pollution incidents for Anglian Water

March 20, 2023
Anglian Water leverages AI-based technology to achieve up to £425k in cost savings.

Located in the east of England, Anglian Water supplies more than 1 billion liters (264 million gallons) of water to more than 2 million households and more than 110,000 businesses every day. To ensure it can supply clean drinking water and recycle it safely, Anglian Water is committed to maintaining and enhancing its operational assets’ health and performance.

A key part of this commitment is its investments into innovative technologies to monitor remote assets in both water supply and water recycling. The insights gleaned from these investments are helping the company move away from manual inspections to a proactive maintenance strategy to ensure it provides a safe, reliable service to its customers.

As part of this strategy, Anglian Water partnered with Netherlands-based technology company Samotics, a provider of real-time actionable insights, to optimize the performance and energy efficiency of its critical assets.

Hard-to-reach critical assets

One key component within a fleet of vital, submersed equipment that underpins the efficient operation of Anglian Water’s service is aeration rotors, which enable vital biological water treatment processes. If downtime occurs for one of these rotors, it instantly reduces site capacity, resulting in a loss of service to customers and major environmental risks through pollution incidents.

Ensuring the operability of aeration rotors is no simple task. As they are partially submerged underwater and situated in hard-to-reach locations, accurately monitoring their functionality is a challenge.

Samotics’ SAM4 helped Anglian Water overcome this challenge. It leverages AI-powered algorithms and electrical signature analysis to enable the remote capture of asset health, performance and energy efficiency data. By analyzing the current and voltage signals via sensors in motor control cabinets, rather than the rotor itself, it bypasses the need to install sensors on, or even near, submerged and hard-to-reach assets.

Continuous, real-time insights

Shortly after SAM4 was installed across Anglian Water sites, the platform started flagging a rotor which was displaying signs of mechanical unbalance and/or looseness. A vibration measurement confirmed this alert shortly after and indicated a failing coupling between the motor and the gearbox.

This early alert enabled Anglian Water to track the performance of the rotor and plan a convenient time to conduct proactive maintenance with minimal downtime or disruption to operations. Upon further inspection, the components showed a clear unbalance in the rotor, confirming SAM4’s initial notification. The rotor’s motor, coupling and gearbox were all replaced.

Taking early action enabled the Anglian Water team to prevent a catastrophic failure which could have led to extensive downtime, high maintenance costs and a potential pollution event. But how can electrical signature analysis support asset function, even if early intervention is not possible?

On another occasion, it detected a sharp increase in energy at another rotor’s rotational frequency, indicating a fault was likely. The team at Anglian Water continued to use the unit to monitor the rotor’s condition. Shortly after, another alert indicated an energy rise around bearing-related frequencies. A few days later, Anglian Water was alerted that the rotor would fail shortly.

As the rotor needed to keep operating to ensure that the water recycling site remained at full capacity, it was not possible to immediately remove the asset from operation for maintenance. Unfortunately, this led to the rotor breaking down. Since Anglian Water received prior warning of the developing fault, the team was able to mitigate further risks and ensure service was not affected.

Mitigating risks and saving costs

By accurately identifying developing issues, Anglian Water took action to prevent catastrophic failures and make plans to mitigate risks, enabling its water recycling sites to operate efficiently and reliably.

“We can now reliably and remotely monitor not only the condition but also the running characteristics to understand if assets are still performing efficiently,” said Tom Rust, technology development manager at Anglian Water. “Being efficient lengthens the life of the asset, saves energy and reduces operational risk.”

Early detection of these two developing faults allowed maintenance to be planned at the most optimal time, preventing unplanned costs such as renting replacement equipment, a full replacement of a rotor and potential pollution fines. It is estimated that these costs could have totaled up to £425,000 ($510,000 USD). WW 

About the Author

Rogier de Groot | Business Development Manager at Samotics

Rogier de Groot is a business development manager for Samotics.