Anglian Water expands AI technology trial

Following the pilot of its digital asset management technology with UK water utilities Anglian Water, Norwegian digital analytics company InfoTiles is embarking on an expanded proof of concept programme. The ongoing collaboration with the UK utility will use its artificial intelligence (AI) driven software to manage roughly 317 biofilters, along with pumps and valves, and will be extended from 24 sites to 100.

The continued partnership will allow Anglian Water to move towards integrating the InfoTiles technology to enhance day-to-day operational visibility. The full integration will create better-informed asset management decision-making and allow the maintenance prioritisation of water recycling assets.

The team at InfoTiles visit a water recycling plant at Anglian Water

Approximately 483 data points will be reportedly measured across all assets included in the scale up. The water recycling centres will be chosen based on current model predictions and for their ability to send relevant asset data to the InfoTiles software. Additionally, many of the sites vary in system design and scale, which demonstrates that InfoTiles is effective across different geographical locations within Anglian Water region.

Pilot scope

The initial 12-month pilot of InfoTiles software monitored the rotating arms of 76 biofilters at 24 sites over 6 months, to assess whether they were rotating when needed. It also measured sludge blanket levels in final settlement tanks to monitor optimal ranges for operation. 

The data was collected through a mix of new and existing sensors via supervisory control and data acquisition control (SCADA) systems. This was combined with flow rates and publicly available weather data, to build a contextual overview of what was happening at Anglian Water recycling plants in real-time. InfoTiles also combined Anglian Water existing SCADA systems into one event-streaming platform that aggregated, compared, and visualised reliability of the equipment.

The strength of the InfoTiles platform is the ability to visualise and model process data through machine learning (ML) to show the likelihood of failures in wastewater treatment, such as stoppages and breakdowns. When fully integrated, this will allow Anglian Water to trial and compare different sensor technologies for reliability and accuracy.

During the initial pilot phase, 14 ML models were used to identify biofilter deviations and identify whether failure or slowdown was imminent. Four models were selected for further development due to their ability to scale.

Proactive troubleshooting

As a result, Anglian Water can set its ambitions on anticipating, detecting, and resolving problems. By assessing the health and effectiveness of assets, maintenance teams could be deployed more efficiently in the future. Adam Wood, chief product officer at InfoTiles said, “Working with the operations team at Anglian Water has given us feedback to improve our platform and its ability to give operations teams actionable insights.

“A key learning has been the development of methods to leverage the data our utility customers already have available, when considering relevance to assets in use throughout the UK.”

A screenshot of InfoTiles data analytics dashboard

The initial trial has shown signs of the feasibility of the technology for Anglian Water. At fully operating capacity, the InfoTiles technology can reportedly reduce the number of active alarms by alerting operatives to issues before they become critical emergencies.

Anglian Water’s main goal of the collaboration is to apply InfoTiles to reduce the risk of biofilter failure and augment its efforts to prevent the occurrence of serious pollution events from its water recycling centres. A further goal is to optimise the use of operational resources by reducing the number of emergency callouts during evenings and weekends and enabling maintenance decisions based on facts and forward planning.

Implementation

During the scale-up stage over the next 12 months, InfoTiles will be working with Anglian Water personnel to adapt its preventative maintenance processes and onboard internal data scientists to transfer knowledge of the InfoTiles user platform and data analysis. The pilot programme is said to show the value in water utilities working with startup and scale up technology companies to find solutions to the most pressing problems within the sector.

InfoTiles has an iterative method, working in collaboration with partners from initial scoping period to full implementation of the technology, which can take anywhere from 6-18 months, ensuring robust testing and long-term results.

The two companies were brought together through WaterStart, a US-based membership platform, which seeks to connect utilities and municipalities with solution providers globally.

“Anglian Water is proud to be involved in the success of the pilot programme, which will transform the way we manage our water recycling sites,” said Mark Stirling at Anglian Water. “Collaborating with international companies through WaterStart has helped the team to work at pace to find and integrate solutions to improve the service provided.”