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Transforming water management through smart maintenance
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Tom Fogarty
Project Manager - Maintenance Improvement Strategy

Water is essential to our survival – yet has become one of the scarcest natural resources on the planet.

The nexus of population growth, industrial development and climate change has presented the world with the unprecedented challenge of ensuring sufficient water access to sustain urban demand, as well as supporting the emergent development of renewable energy technologies and growing agricultural requirements.

Wood’s mission is to create a water-secure future for our world through technology-driven, sustainable solutions; drawing on our global network of expertise to apply innovative solutions to the regionally discrete challenges of water security.

Globally, Wood has had a long and innovative connection to the water sector. In Australia, we have more than 20 years’ experience supporting the local water and wastewater sectors. We are committed to maintaining and improving local infrastructure to meet the demands of modern water networks amid growing urbanization and agricultural development.

Water in Australia is an even more precious resource since the average annual rainfall is just 470mm and is further forecasted to experience climate change* impact. As urban development progresses, it is imperative that smarter and more sustainable solutions for water management are developed in tandem. With the conflict of growing demand and emissions reductions goals, treatment and distribution efficiencies are rapidly becoming one of the most crucial requirements for water utilities around the country.

Wood’s partnerships with multiple Australian water operators and global inter-industry experience, mean our scalable smart maintenance solutions can be targeted toward all levels of current maintenance capabilities and data maturity. With an end-to-end expertise, our solutions are applied with a consistent focus on developing industry leading practices based on global manufacturing, production and distribution technologies.

Through our deep understanding of the fundamental barriers to maintenance data acquisition and management, Wood’s smart maintenance solutions incorporate our knowledge of aggregated municipal supply assets to ensure that leading technology is applicable to the bespoke needs of our water utility partners, delivering cost reductions and improved asset reliability.

Criticality of data structures in smart maintenance solutions

Obstacles to efficient data structures for contemporary water organisations are often associated with the historic amalgamation of asset ownership and the difficulty of managing multiple control systems, project processes and optimisation programs.

A key aspect to the successful implementation of intelligent solutions is the effectiveness of asset and operational data structures for water utilities.

Wood has conducted comprehensive studies of data maturity and operational processes amongst our water industry partners and developed a systematic approach to ensuring that study findings and optimisation theories can be fully operationalised through our maintenance delivery partnerships. Creating a range of intelligent solutions, we enable effective decision-making for our clients’ water maintenance strategies.

A core premise of our smart maintenance approach is that the default medium for improvement is not the immediate implementation of new technology, rather a leveraging of existing technologies to feed advanced analytics. New technologies are then identified through current state and gap analysis of optimised infrastructure to ensure suitable targeting of capital investments.

A common finding within Wood’s smart maintenance studies is the untapped potential of underutilised Computerised Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) functionality. Our application and understanding of the most effective deep learning architectures for water infrastructure has resulted in benefits of over 20% direct reduction in maintenance costs, and indirect benefits including immediate spares stockholding reductions and increased asset reliability.

Implementing machine learning and intelligence for the water industry

Advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence have unlocked digital transformation in the water industry. The expanse of artificial neural network applications has surpassed many of the limitations of traditional data-driven decision-making and optimisation for water operations. As deep learning capabilities reach new heights, the water industry is ideally positioned as a beneficiary through applications including:

  • Dynamic asset management programs, including optimised maintenance intervention scheduling
  • Scalable asset performance and condition monitoring
  • Network current state estimation
  • Numerical detection of physical and apparent water losses
  • Energy savings and carbon footprint reduction
  • Definition of contingency supply plans and protocols, aiding shutdowns and capital project delivery
  • Identification of spares consumption patterns and demand forecasting

Artificial intelligence is also playing a pivotal role in intelligent business analytics through multi-source data integration, leveraging cloud technologies and business intelligence visualisations for real-time insights and analysis. When implemented in parallel with optimisation initiatives targeting enhanced water operations models and asset maintenance, these generalised business intelligence insights allow for live identification of opportunistic reallocation of resources, enabling optimised maintenance benefits.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence also create opportunities for self-propagated data structures to develop, enabling advanced trend forecasting using external variables such as calendar events, socio-economic development, and climatological variables. This creates consistent value drivers throughout the data maturity curve, with practical benefits possible from basic structure and management development through to advanced analytics and integration.

Wood’s augmented machine learning development has yielded reductions in manual analysis of CMMS and sensor data by up to 90%, transcending limitations of big data analysis. These reductions in operational investment have allowed rapid payback periods for investment, providing confidence for optimisation to be scaled across large asset bases.

Implementation of Wood’s smart maintenance solutions has enabled remarkable outcomes for our industry partners.

Optimising inventory through identification and optimisation of critical stock keeping units to support asset availability has resulted in approximately 40% reduction in critical inventory value and associated operational costs, as well as maintenance strategy optimisation, yielding cost reductions of over 25% and as high as 45% across high criticality assets. Further supporting sustainability goals, energy and fuel consumption reductions of 10% have also been achieved through optimised operating philosophies.

Coupled with qualitative benefits including improved asset reliability, identification of data integrity and structure improvement opportunities, and maintenance performance visibility, our smart maintenance approach drives maintenance and operational cost efficiencies whilst supporting supply certainty and reliability in the face of growing water scarcity.

Although Australian water utilities vary broadly in their treatment and distribution processes, the goal of water security remains the same.

Creating value within data programs from inception through smart maintenance is the key to streamlining water management. This, along with the integration of global inter-industry expertise and the unique insights of success drivers amongst our water utilities partners, unlocks the solution to delivering optimum asset reliability towards providing a water secure future for not only Australia, but the world.

* https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/partner-content-how-australia-is-securing-its-water-future

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