Articles & Case Studies

UU rolls out real-time leak reporting across North-west

Posted: Thursday 27th March 2008

United Utilities is to roll out real-time leak reporting technology across the whole of the North West following a successful trial of the ‘Pinpoint’ system from software provider eSAY Mobile.

Ninety hand-held PDA devices carrying the software will be issued to leak detection engineers covering all four United Utilities regions (around 140,000 acres of land) – including contractors for RPS Water and in-house teams.

Pinpoint allows engineers to file real-time reports of leaks and defects via the GPS and GPRS-enabled devices – wherever they are. By replacing the old paper-based system with real-time reporting, the mobile technology has revolutionised working practices.

In the 35-device pilot project, the system delivered quicker and more accurate reporting of leaks and saved water by reducing leakage run-times.

Time savings were also significant; by allowing engineers to log on and off for work remotely and cutting out the need to deliver paper forms to head office, around five hours a week were saved per engineer.

That would equate to a return on investment of an additional 450 hours of productive time per week once the 90 new devices are fully operational – equivalent to an annual cost saving of around £280,800.*

The extended roll-out will begin in February, using new hardware and an updated version of the software designed to overcome the issue of filing reports in areas without a GPRS signal. The roll-out will be done on an incremental basis, to allow for tailored training sessions.

Paul Parr, Leakage Planner at United Utilities, said: “This is an impressive system that has delivered tangible benefits from day one. We are very excited about the impact it will have when deployed across the whole region.

“I expect the greatest gains to come from the North region, which includes remote parts of the Lake District. To be able to pinpoint jobs here with an accurate GPS grid reference will be a huge benefit.”

He added: “The system will also significantly cut down on travel time for engineers; the teams are really looking forward to getting the devices.”

Mark Smith, Operations Director at RPS Water, added: “We are delighted to have played an instrumental role in piloting this innovative technology. It has delivered benefits to everyone in the chain – from the field worker to the managing contractor and ultimately to the client.”

Other utility companies are also using Pinpoint. An initial 20 devices are live in the Anglian Water region and South West Water are due to trial it soon; eSAY Mobile is also in discussions with two other major water contractors in other parts of the UK.

Colin Yates, eSAY’s Technical Director, said: “We are delighted at the success of this product, which is starting to make a real impact across the UK water industry.

“It’s a great example of how a small specialist supplier can add value to a large corporate organisation – providing a responsive service delivering strong business benefits.”

The company plans further improvements to the system, including the ability to issue jobs to field workers via the PDAs.

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