Save millions with Optimatics™

 

 

Rehabilitate existing networks

Optimatics can be used to determine a cost effective  design when rehabilitating an existing network. The engineers will start with the fault analysis that highlights the shortcomings of the current solution and start from there with capturing building options that would solve the current problems. Then, other options that could further improve could be fed into the Optimiser’s pool of options to be assessed.

Extend or build new networks

Optimatics can use several hydraulic engines (such as Epanet, EPASWMM, DHI and Infoworks) to check whether the solutions considered provide the levels of service agreed upon. In the case of an extension, this would show whether the additional area poses a stress that can be handled by the existing network or not.

The hydraulic engines can support the design of both branched and circular networks and both can be self cleaning.

Challenges

For every project that water engineers wish to build, they are constantly confronted with choices. Where can I build my network? What are the acceptable risks that I can take? What is budget for Capital Expenditures (CapEx)? How much money do I need to maintain it during its lifespan (OpEx)? Is my Hydraulic Model good enough? Is it a self cleaning network? What is the status of my existing assets? Do I have the data in hand to actually answers these questions? Now there is a solution that addresses all of these questions….and more.

A versatile tool

Optimatics™ is a software package that leverages the power of a hydraulic modelling engine to evaluate hundreds of thousands of construction options from a financial perspective. The more complex the network, the better the results – as the machine takes over from the human the tedious job of evaluating the costs associated with the myriad of variations of network build or operational parameters. Therefore, the tool empowers the network planner by letting him/her focus on the definition of the options – which requires creative and inventive skills that a machine will (probably) never possess. The area of applicability spans over any water network – such as supply, waste or irrigation.

 

 

 

Reduce non revenue water (NRW)

Optimatics can also help to devise a cost effective plan to reduce NRW, by following the following repetitive process:

  • Inspections are carried out in the field to determine pipeline conditions
  • based on these inspections a range of possible leakage reduction methods are determined for all pipes – joint maintenance, targeted patching, complete relining or replacement
  • these methods along with their costs and likely benefit are fed into Optimatics to find out which parts of the network should be rehabilitated to get the maximum favourable impact

The type of inspections used can be changed with each repetition; a starting inspection may be as simple as a desktop study of the existing data. As the process proceeds, more expensive inspection techniques can be used at the discretion of the company, until the target NRW percentage is reached.

 

How does it work

The planner uses the software to define the optimisation problem:

  1. Register the construction options in the software – such as pipeage routes, the range of specifications to be tried for each asset – e.g. different materials / diameters for pipes, several curves for pumps, etc.
  2. Define the criteria that can deem a “solution” as viable – these can describe the acceptable level of service – such as minimum pressure for service connections, velocity in various parts of the network, etc.
  3. Define the optimisation objectives – depending on the goals set, the planner may be interested in producing a design that would decrease the operational costs at an affordable capital investment, prioritising the network changes taking into account the remaining life span of the equipment currently in the field.
  4. Run the calculations – the user interface packages the optimisation problem in a binary form that is sent to a powerful computer in the cloud that runs the optimisation calculations. For each combination of the construction options and operational parameters (such as settings for valves) the hydraulic model is calculated to verify the level of service constraints as well as to calculate the configured objectives’ costs.
  5. Interpret the results – once the calculations are performed, the planner can visualise the results in a diagram such as this:

 


Reliable technical support for cost estimates

 

To produce two different designs and cost them a team of engineers would need days, if not weeks. Contrarily, Optimatics can evaluate thousands of options in a matter of hours.

This makes it an ideal tool be used to document network projects thoroughly. This can assure third party project auditors that the solution chosen is a sound one from both a rigorous engineering perspective as well as financial. As such, Optimatics may be used by expert consultants as well.

 

Communication enabler

Sometimes, local authorities may pose restrictions on the technical solution for reasons hard to monetise – for e.g. to avoid construction works on a particular street / neighbourhood at all costs.

The engineer may still register in Optimatics a technical solution that would break that requirement to investigate some potential cost savings – for e.g. in the case of a shorter path. If those savings would be significant, the local administration may be able to reconsider its position.

 

Each dot represents a “solution”, i.e. a combination of the building options that passed the hydraulic model constraints. In the diagram above, for each such combination it is calculated the capital cost associated to implementing that solution (the new pipes, their installation, etc.) as well as the operational cost associated with running the network in that configuration. It becomes obvious that the interesting  points are the “red” ones – situated closest to the axes. A black dot represents a solution that would just cost more CapEx while providing the same OpEx as a red one. Experience has shown that when comparing a design elaborated manually with a design chosen by running Optimatics, the latter usually costs 30% less CapEx for the same OpEx with equal or better levels of service.

Best practices

Usually, water companies go rarely through the processes of redesigning or extending their network because these are quite heavyweight and expensive. More often than not, specialised external expert companies are hired to guide these processes, when actually most of the needed knowledge is local. Optimatics can reduce the complexity of these processes to the point where the engineers of the water company themselves could come up with better designs, since they are the ones that have the local knowledge about the construction options that would fit their specific situation or budget requirements.

Where appropriate, Optimatics could be used internally, in a scale-up fashion, starting with smaller projects to build up the expertise. Tasks for redesign or rehabilitation could then be run internally within much smaller time cycles – ideally, only months.

This would enable a mechanism that would continuously push for searching new options for improving the network:

It is vital for the company to have such a program and this effort should be facilitated as much as possible.


Risks

In the past, water company executives used to assume the responsibility for several design premises such as a certain trend for the consumption forecast for the next 25 years or the fit for a certain technical solution. All of these premises simplified the problem that the network planner needed to solve by shifting the responsibility onto the executive decisions. At present, managers are growing more and more reluctant to take upon themselves such decisions – the good news here is that Optimatics can ease the complexity of running several scenarios depending on external factors such as environmental, political, etc. by allowing the network planner to assess the technical fit of each solution in various contexts.

 

Integration with a spatial asset management tool

Pairing Optimatics with a spatial asset management tool such as Water Office™:

would greatly support the program mentioned above by tracking the complete life cycle of the assets – this will improve productivity as well as traceability of the changes the network has undergone, by incorporating this “computer aided design” component onto the larger, locally customised business processes that see the idea through all of its stages – from inception, to its technical feasibility assessment, formal approval within the company, as built updates and finally the inauguration. In the particular case of an audit, the company would be able to produce very easily all of the designs taken into consideration and to show the technical aspects that made one of them the best.

Interfaces have been developed between Water Office and Optimatics so that the manual efforts to acquire the data can be replaced by a seamless integration that enables the flow of data between the two software at opportune times, e.g. data is extracted from Water Office when the user simply advances the design state to the next state. Also, the solutions manually chosen in Optimatics from the millions that have been considered by the Optimiser’s engine are imported in Water Office and registered onto the customised workflow – so they will go through formal approval, as built updates, etc.

 

Contact

For more information about OptimaticsTM or WaterOfficeTM please contact one of the following companies: