Much like other industries, water utilities are continually looking into ways to improve their work and make it more efficient, while having a safe workplace and not disrupting their communities.
In the Greater Little Rock-North Little Rock area of Arkansas, Central Arkansas Water (CAW) has experienced paws-itive results from its leak-detecting dog, Vessel. CAW trained Vessel to detect the scent of chlorine, which is a sign of a water leak. When Vessel smells chlorine, she lays down at the leak site.
Accessing water infrastructure - which is often underground - can cause inconveniences (such as traffic, water outages) to customers in the area. A Chicago suburb called Waukegan is using robots to robots play a big role in a pipe rehabilitation project. The robots, which rely on remote human-operated technology, are helping to connect buildings to water mains by placing a new liner inside the existing pipe. The liner is believed to extend the life of the pipe by approximately 80 years. Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said using robots could be a "game changer," robots can perform this work without impacting local traffic while also improving safety as there are fewer workers exposed to the risks related to working on busy streets. The work itself reduces main breaks and their related inconveniences.
The infrastructure being underground also makes collecting data difficult. Digital twins, which is a virtual representation of utilities' assets, processes or systems, can provide utilities with important data.
A WaterWorld article said, “Digital twins allow utility workers to visual an asset (in the context of the system and the surrounding environment), check its status, and perform analyses and simulations. This enables utilities to better understand past and current performance of their water systems while helping them predict future performance and simulate the impact of potential changes in the virtual world before funds are committed.”
Robots, digital twins and a leak-sniffing dog - water utilities really are prepared for the future.
Photo courtesy Central Arkansas Water