Water utility provider SA Water has turned to Bluetooth technology as part of a process to improve water services in South Australia.
The technology connects with a hands-free extendable arm to remotely open and shut water main valves through a process known as ‘exercising’, which is essential to ensuring the drinking water supply network is operating as normal.
According to Mark Gobbie, SA Water’s general manager for asset operations and delivery, the technology has already improved the water network while ensuring employee safety.
“Valves are important in controlling the flow of water through the network to our customers in any planned shutdown or emergency, and therefore we need to make sure they are always working as normal to limit potential temporary water disruptions to customers should they arise,” Gobbie explained.
“However, regularly loosening the valve’s mechanics and clearing debris is a manually exhausting and physical process for our people, with winding large valves requiring at least four people to safely complete.
“Being able to improve our pipe operations from the palm of our hands now makes exercising water valves a low-risk, one-person activity, which is a great result for our people and our customers. This is an innovation delivered by our dedicated major pipeline maintenance team at Crystal Brook, and we’re keen to see how the success of this trial can translate to sites across South Australia.”
The technology applies torque power to test the valve’s movement and create graphs and collect data on operations, ensuring SA Water has the exact data it needs to make informed, cost-effective decisions on follow-up repairs and maintenance in the future.
Since the technology was implemented, at least seven previously non-operating valves along three pipeline networks have been restored, saving potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in replacement costs.
“The health and safety of our people is our number one priority, and innovations like this are a great example of how we can reduce manual handling risks while improving the water network for our customers,” Gobbie concluded.
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