16th October 2012
The grant is part of more than £2.5m of funding going to several projects and studies aimed at addressing water security challenges in the UK and overseas. The money awarded to the Balfour Beatty collaboration will fund a project developing a ‘Subaqua Assessment Vehicle for Water Infrastructure’, otherwise known as the SAVE Water project.
Building on existing technologies developed by JD7 and already being deployed by Balfour Beatty’s Network Intelligence unit, the project will develop the first complete in-pipe assessment vehicle which will work in live conditions. Delivering a full sensing package of optical and acoustic inspection, it will also be capable of carrying out a complete structural assessment of the pipe material and any associated linings.
Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions’ Innovation Strategy Manager, Gas & Water, Mike Brockhurst explains:
“What is so exciting about this new project is that it will give us a complete assessment capability in a single unit, allowing us to fully map the condition of a pipe without ever having to switch the mains off. This is obviously good for customers and road users as it minimises the impact of work on their lives, but it also has huge benefits for water companies, as it will deliver comprehensive intelligence about where and when investment in their network is needed.”
Working in collaboration with technology suppliers is a key part of Balfour Beatty’s strategy of speeding up the process of getting innovations to market, something which on average takes 10 years in the water industry. JD7’s Technical Director, Daniel Krywyj explains:
“Developing and exploiting technologies is a challenging process for any company, requiring innovative design coupled with a practical validation and trialling process. Working in collaboration allows all phases to be addressed from as early as concept level. This allows smaller companies to move quickly and allows larger organisations to take advantage of new technology and drive this into their existing operations as well as looking at emerging opportunities which may previously have not been explored. Collaborative working also offers excellent exposure and is an excellent way to work towards a controlled programme where all parties are key to the success of the project”
Professor Ahmed Al-Shamma’a of Liverpool John Moores University describes the benefit to the water industry of working closely with academia:
“We are delighted to be part of this world class industrial consortium. This project will certainly provide a vehicle for the academics at Liverpool John Moores University to demonstrate the impact of their niche and unique sensor system in order to provide the water industry a step change in real time monitoring”
SAVE Water is the second Balfour Beatty-led project in recent years to receive funding from the Technology Strategy Board. In 2010 the company successfully led a collaboration to develop an articulated robotic unit, capable of navigating around corners within pipes and fully controllable by remote control.
Mike Brockhurst continues:
“We believe these two projects could provide the future for the water industry. At present, we still regularly dig up roads and conduct ‘open heart surgery’ on our networks. Our ultimate aim is to move to ‘key-hole’ operations, in which everything is done remotely through a hydrant or valve; from inspection and assessment right through to repair.
“With a working articulated unit now a reality, Balfour Beatty has continued to invest in robotics to further the uses of the technology and bring in-pipe repairs a step closer.”
Colin Kelly, Director of Gas & Water at Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions sums up:
“To ensure that the water industry can deliver our obligations to the regulator, customers and the communities that we serve, it is essential that we invest in innovation as a key component, enabling us to deliver network intelligence that informs important investment decisions.
“I am extremely pleased that the Technology Strategy Board shares the vision we and our partners have for how technology will help to combat these challenges.”
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