NI Water taps into innovation in Water and Wastewater Treatment

Four Belfast-based companies are leading the way in developing innovative technologies for NI Water’s Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants and other assets in the water and sewerage network.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 3:00 pm
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 3:49 pm

Four Belfast-based companies are leading the way in developing innovative technologies for NI Water’s Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants and other assets in the water and sewerage network.

Analytics Engines, RPS, Lagan Meica and Advanced Analytics Labs are helping NI Water to identify ground-breaking processes and data intelligence techniques to achieve efficiencies in the area of water and wastewater treatment.

These projects are all supported by the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which is a pre-commercial procurement model promoted by Innovate UK, which enables public sector bodies to connect with technology organisations in order to stimulate the development of innovative solutions to specific public sector challenges and needs.

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Stephen Flynn RPS, Sean McAuley, Ciaran Nicell, NI Water, Professor Adele Marshall Advanced Analytics, Neil McKenzie Lagan MEICA and Martin McCartan from Analytics Engines get to work on innovation and efficiencies in the water and wastewater treatment process

NI Water Project Manager Sean McAuley, said: “NI Water is delighted to harness the expertise of four locally based companies to assist us in making efficiencies in the area of water and wastewater treatment.

“For example, analysing data has highlighted trends in a few key areas, including two Wastewater plants - Carrickfergus Wastewater Treatment Works and the Kinnegar Wastewater plant in County Down. The NI Water teams involved are now changing their treatment strategy to help reduce costs at the plants, which is bringing great benefits to our business. Data analysis techniques are also currently employed to gain valuable insights into the water treatment process at Drumaroad Water Treatment Works.

“I would like to thank SBRI and the Strategic Investment Board for their invaluable support and the four local companies for their enthusiasm in this exciting new venture. I look forward to seeing further efficiencies unfold as the project progresses.”

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, explained: “I congratulate NI Water in their ongoing commitment to developing original and innovative technologies to make efficiencies in the area of water and wastewater treatment. This not only makes much needed financial savings but improving operational efficiency will make for a cleaner, greener environment. This will assist NI Water in their ambitious strategy to become carbon neutral by 2050 and help tackle the climate emergency.”

SBRI aims to use the power of government procurement to accelerate technology development, thereby supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping, which are typically hard to fund commercially in the open market. SBRI offers an excellent opportunity for businesses, especially early stage companies, to develop and demonstrate technology, supported by an intelligent lead customer.

Analytics Engines have provided NI Water with a global overview of the wastewater treatment process across various NI Water Wastewater Treatment Plants. A dashboard was then presented that visualises this data, allowing the company to avail of advanced analytics capabilities in the wastewater treatment process.

This expertise delivers significant value to NI Water via data intelligence techniques and uses Analytics Engines’ technology to create a tailored augmented intelligence solution designed to address the organisation’s requirements. This will undoubtedly lead to cost savings and process efficiencies across the business.

In partnership with NI Water data analytics and assets performance teams, RPS has taken asset lifecycle data to derive timely and actionable insights which will support future operational decisions such as targeting capital investment and improving current asset performance and efficiency. The company also reviewed chemical usage at the final stage of the wastewater treatment process.

Lagan Meica is also involved in this initiative, employing advanced machine learning for Wastewater Treatment processes to enhance Process Robustness, reduce Carbon Footprint and provide an easy operator interface with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence.

The company is currently maintaining Kinnegar WwTW, one of NI Water’s largest plants with a Population Equivalent of 110,000. They are assisting with plant optimisation, through better monitoring & process improvements, which have made Kinnegar WwTW one of the most efficient plants in Northern Ireland. Monthly electricity costs have reduced from £43,000 to £18,000 whilst maintaining 100% compliance.

Last but not least, Advanced Analytics Labs (AAL) has been working with NI Water to develop a data driven software solution, which can reveal real-time insights for plant managers, through the creation and prediction of a novel ‘Water Quality’ score derived from routinely collected data. The software overcomes the challenges commonly faced with using multiple data sets from a variety of sources and native formats without the need for manual processing and manipulation by humans.

The analytics framework underpinning the software contains a number of AI models, which can predict the values of influential features at a time in the future, enabling the water quality score to be predicted in advance. This will allow process anomalies to be detected, and process optimality to be identified in the most efficient, accurate and robust manner possible, in order to ensure that water quality is at an optimum level.

The SBRI initiative aims to improve and control the status and quality of asset operations throughout the water and wastewater infrastructure networks and will support current business processes, bringing many efficiencies to NI Water’s business well into the future.

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