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Pictures of the Future



Mr. Sebastian Webel
Mr. Sebastian Webel


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Werner-von-Siemens-Straße 1
80333 Munich

Pictures of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation

From Big Data to Smart Data

Data Analysis in Water Pipes

There’s far more than just water flowing through water pipes – there’s a great deal of data as well. Properly prepared, that data can help to conserve energy and water. New water supply systems are currently being developed in the Chinese cities of Hefei and Lanzhou. The results of a large Siemens' research project are expected to help conserve energy and detect leaks at an early stage.

Many fans around the world gathered in front of their televisions to watch the final of the most recent FIFA World Cup. Based on consumption statistics from the Munich waterworks, the very next day the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper was able to pinpoint when the game was the most exciting: The most noticeable flow through the pipes occurred during the half time breaks. But the water consumption of Munich residents suddenly increased even when fan frustration was low, such as when penalty kicks were awarded. By contrast, during the general World Cup jubilation that took place right after the final whistle, the amount of water flowing through the lines was as low as would normally occur late at night.

“Many factors affect water consumption,” explains Parag Mogre, an expert for networked solutions from Corporate Technology. “These include the season, the time of day, the weather, and special events such as a soccer game. Yet water utilities always have to supply enough water while at the same time striving to consume as little energy as possible. The analysis of data from the water pipelines can help them do this. If the providers know in advance, for instance, how much water will be needed and when, they can better plan the operating times of water pumps and conserve a great deal of energy.” In ICeWater (ICT Solutions for efficient Water Resources Management), a large-scale EU-sponsored project formed with a variety of universities and companies that has now concluded, Mogre and his colleagues developed solutions that use data analysis to make the supply of water more intelligent and efficient. The results of the research project are being directly incorporated in two current urban development projects in China.

Using data analysis to reduce energy by eight to twelve percent

“In the ICeWater project in our test cities of Timişoara in Romania and Milan, Italy, we installed a large number of pressure and flow rate sensors in the water pipes. These sensors give us a very accurate picture of when and how much water flows through those pipes,” explains Mogre. “The individual values say little, but the combination of the variety of data – at Corporate Technology, we have experts for these kinds of mathematical processes – yields valuable results. These results, for example, enabled us to forecast the consumption so accurately that we were able to determine how to operate the water pumps with the greatest possible energy efficiency.” Thanks to these efforts, it was possible to reduce energy consumption by eight to twelve percent in Timişoara and Milan. At the same time, the water pumps only had to be switched on and off about half as often, which is expected to increase their service life over the long term.

In Lanzhou, a megaton of water for nearly three million people will flow through the 18-kilometer pipeline every day. Defects in these pipeline systems would lead to enormous water losses.

Follow-up projects in China

In urban development projects in China directed by the Process Industries & Drives (PD PA) Division, the results of ICeWater are primarily being used to detect leaks in the water pipes. Large parts of the ICeWater software could be utilized or were adapted by local experts to the special characteristics of the Chinese market and the specific requirements of the customers. Plans are in place to use pressure and flow rate sensors to monitor large water mains in the cities of Hefei (Anhui Province) and Lanzhou (Gansu Province). “Huge volumes of water flow through the monitored pipelines in both cities,” explains Ming Yu from Corporate Technology in China. “In Lanzhou, a megaton of water for nearly three million people will flow through the 18-kilometer pipeline every day. In Hefei, the 17-kilometer main pipeline supplies a city area of 20 square kilometers. Defects in these pipeline systems would lead to enormous water losses.” The pilot projects in Hefei and Lanzhou will initially run through the end of the year and will probably be continued after that.

Aenne Barnard
Picture credits: from above: 3. Picture Panthermedia