Posts Tagged ‘Ofwat’

Why it totally pays to pick electromagnetic

December 16, 2014

The arrival of AMP6 signals a change in many areas for both water companies and the supply chain.

As well as the potential end of the AMP cycle’s ‘boom and bust’ behaviour, another major change is underway, with Ofwat encouraging companies to move away from capital expenditure on new plant and infrastructure and instead focus on total life costs and getting more out of their existing assets.

Called TOTEX, this shift in emphasis will see a move towards companies focusing more on joined-up investment and on improving the performance of installed infrastructure rather than building new plant.

The approach includes a particular focus on the role of data in helping companies to maintain their networks more effectively and identify potential problems before they occur.

Of course, data is only as good as the device used to gather it. If the accuracy of the device itself is lacking, then the resulting data will be of questionable value when it comes to setting strategies to improve performance.
When it comes to the devices for measuring and monitoring flow around water distribution networks, various flowmetering options have traditionally been available to water companies, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Orifice plates may present an inexpensive solution, but their accuracy relies on the opening having been machined to the right size. Although they may offer reasonable accuracy at first, wearing of the orifice edges caused by particles within the flow can steadily erode measurement performance. This technology works by creating a pressure drop across the plate of which a minimum of 40% is non-recoverable. These losses inevitably lead to increased pumping costs.

Frequently specified where purchase cost is an issue, mechanical meters can quickly prove to be false economy. Wear and tear on their moving parts can reduce accuracy within weeks of installation, resulting in over or under registration of flows.

A higher costing option, the ultrasonic flowmeter, uses ultrasonic beams to assess the velocity of the fluid, which can then be used to derive a flow measurement. Although they offer the benefits of a clamp-on device, these meters can be severely affected by changes in speed, and are difficult to set up, especially where high accuracy is required.

In comparison, electromagnetic flowmeters offer a number of advantages that can quickly add up to savings that outweigh their higher initial purchase price. Firstly, there are no moving parts which need routine maintenance. Their buriable design also means the overall cost of the system is reduced as there is no need to build chambers or install ancillary equipment such as isolating valves.

Then there’s the matter of accuracy. Electromagnetic flowmeters offer typical accuracies of ±0.5% of rate throughout their operational life, as well as superb reliability from being unaffected by the wear and tear that can affect other meter types.

Recent technological developments extend their benefits even further. ABB’s AquaMaster 3, for example, includes GSM-SMS radio technology, enabling up-to-date information to be remotely collected from anywhere around the world and eliminating the costs associated with manual collection. Their ability to draw energy from either solar or wind also opens up a raft of new installation location possibilities.

When each method for leakage prevention is compared to the other, it soon becomes clear that the electromagnetic flowmeter is the best choice.

Not only that, but as listed technologies within the Government’s Water Technology List, ABB’s WaterMaster and AquaMaster flowmeters are eligible for Enhanced Capital Allowances which allow for offset of 100% of cost against corporation tax, not just on the cost of the purchase but also any costs relating to installation.

Taken together, these factors present a compelling case for using electromagnetic meters in a TOTEX-focused strategy.

For more about why it pays to pick electromagnetic flowmeters, email moreinstrumentation@gb.abb.com or call 0870 600 6122 ref ‘Water Technology List’.

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A welcome change of direction for AMP 6?

November 22, 2013

Tony Hoyle, General Manager for ABB’s UK Measurement Products business, explains how the AMP process could finally be undergoing a much needed change of direction.

After years of acting contrary to the interests of many of the parties within it, it would seem that the AMP process is finally starting to undergo some welcome changes. Especially encouraging is Ofwat’s focus on ‘long term outcomes’ and its aim to give water companies greater flexibility in how they deliver them.

The prospect of a focus on the long term offers encouragement for those keen to see a smoother AMP process. In particular, a focus on the longer term would certainly help to avoid the detrimental impact caused by the ramping up and ramping down of activities during the transition between previous periods.

Partnerships and early starts

A quick scan of the marketplace offers encouraging signs of a changed approach to the new AMP period. Several of the UK’s largest water utilities are already well underway in selecting partners for their AMP 6 projects so that they can get work underway as soon as Ofwat releases funding.

The establishment of long-term partnerships could well present a workable and effective template for future AMP periods. As well as allowing the fulfilment of the immediate objectives of an AMP period, they could also provide the much-needed framework for continuity that has been badly lacking in previous years. By enabling partner companies to count on their continued association with a water company outside of the five year period, the creation of long-term partnerships could yield a wide variety of benefits that have not been fully realisable within the previous AMP structure.

Breeding innovation

In the same period that Apple has created and refined its market-leading iPhone and iPad products, there has been relatively little if any real change in the technologies used by water companies to treat, distribute and collect potable and wastewater.

The AMP process has done little to encourage technological innovation. Faced with an uncertain environment caused by the five year structure of an AMP period, companies have had little incentive to risk investing time, money and resources into new products and services.

It is to be hoped that the prospect of a more long-term approach will help pave the way for greater innovation. For suppliers especially, the prospect of working with water companies on projects across the AMP periods provides a much more attractive environment in which to provide and develop new products and services.

Summary

All of the indications are that AMP6 could well be the first all-round win scenario in the scheme’s history, delivering benefits for water companies, suppliers and customers. Whereas in the past water companies were reliant on Ofwat to set their investment priorities, the greater freedom being afforded within AMP 6 means that they can now focus more on their existing infrastructure, leading to potential improvements in performance that could increase effectiveness and, ultimately, profitability.