Gas and water distribution monitored with IoT technology
Barcelona, December 2019
The utilities industry has been traditionally slow to innovate but is now challenged to move fast to adopt new technologies. Companies across the sector are facing increasing pressure to meet regulatory changes, heightened competition, and respond to the evolving demands of customers and society for environmental protection.
Worldsensing is contributing to the transformation of the utilities industry by providing Industry 4.0 expertise as part of innovation projects co-funded by the EU and the Catalan Government.
“We are working with the leading Spanish gas operator to help monitor their activities. The SENIX project is concerned with the gas distribution network, while the other project, ACTIV 4.0, focuses on implementing predictive maintenance of gas storage plants. All in all, we provide an end-to-end monitoring programme based on IoT,” points out Ignasi Garcia-Milà, Innovation Project Manager at Worldsensing.
Underground monitoring of gas distribution networks now possible
Within the project SENIX, Worldsensing has developed two different IoT-enabled solutions addressing the operator’s requirements. On the one hand, the status of gas distribution networks is monitored with new sensors that survey flow and pressure parameters. With this information, operators can also infer if there is a risk for gas leaks or malfunction. This is an innovative approach as monitoring the last mile of underground gas networks in urban areas has previously not been possible.
On the other hand, a solution for anomaly detection has been developed using Piconode, Worldsensing’s smallest wireless node available in the Loadsensing product family. The wireless monitoring system minimizes the impact of any external manipulation of the devices deployed across a city network because the operator receives real-time alerts in case of an external intrusion. This ultimately protects the gas distribution circuit and guarantees seamless operations without interruptions.
Worldsensing’s IoT platform showing a loss of pressure in a given gas pipe section detected by a pressure sensor
Improving monitoring capacities through predictive maintenance
ACTIV 4.0 aims to leverage technology to optimize day-to-day operations in gas storage and pipeline distribution. In LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) storage deposits, for example, it is possible to identify predictive indicators by correlating gas storage levels with flow volume. Predictive maintenance minimizes costs due to being able to plan more efficiently when deposits need to be refilled.
For this project, Worldsensing is providing the gas distributor with an IoT platform for data management and visualisation that also enables to connect with BIM (Building Information Modelling) systems or digital twin environments. Integrating these transformational technologies in one single platform will provide enhanced control of the gas management lifecycle.
“Companies want to move quickly to deploy IoT solutions because they see real business benefit. It’s good that more and more industries are implementing intelligent technologies, in particular, to accelerate their transition to becoming green. We have just completed a project to improve energy efficiency in buildings and are currently participating in another EU project for energy harvesting and storage. With SENIX and ACTIV 4.0 we are gaining deep insight into the requirements of gas operators by working closely with them,” explains Andrea Bartoli, Head of Innovation at Worldsensing.
European funded innovation to generate progress at regional level
Both SENIX and ACTIV receive co-funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The regional funds are part of the Europe 2020 program, the EU growth strategy aiming to maximize European, national and regional research and innovation potential. It puts forward three mutually reinforcing priorities:
- smart growth, developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation;
- sustainable growth, promoting a more resource-efficient, greener and competitive economy;
- and inclusive growth, fostering a high employment economy delivering economic, social and territorial cohesion.
The concept of Smart Specialisation is key to building on each region’s strengths, competitive advantages and potential for excellence. The underlying rationale behind this is that by concentrating knowledge resources and linking them to a limited number of priority economic activities, countries and regions can become — and remain — competitive in the global economy.
In Catalonia, RIS3CAT is the research and innovation strategy for regional smart specialisation. It is organized in communities of R&D and innovation companies that promote R&D plans and innovation for an economic transformation in the leading sectors. One of these is the RIS3CAT Community Utilities 4.0 and Living Services specifically for the digital transformation of networks and citizens’ distribution services for energy and natural resources, water and recycling cycles and waste treatment.
SENIX and ACTIV 4.0 are co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union within the framework of the ERDF Operational Programme for Catalonia 2014-2020 (SENIX Ref. COMRDI16-1-0055, ACTIV 4.0 Ref. COMRDI16-1-0054).
Aquests projectes han estat cofinançats per la Unió Europea a través del Fons Europeu de Desenvolupament Regional (FEDER).
Worldsensing is a widely recognized global IoT pioneer. Founded in 2008, the technology provider delivers Operational Intelligence to traditional industries and cities. With over 100 employees and offices in Barcelona, London, Los Angeles, and Singapore, Worldsensing is globally active and has customers in over 60 countries across all continents. Worldsensing’s investors include CISCO INVESTMENTS, Mitsui & Co, McRock Capital and ETF Partners, among others.