Dubai: 'Smart ball' helps city detect underground leaks, save 130 million gallons of water

It travels freely inside the transmission pipes at around 3 kilometres per hour and can inspect over 35km in one day without affecting the water flow


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Tue 14 Mar 2023, 4:18 PM

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) has revealed that its Smart Ball technology has provided significant results in detecting leaks in the water transmission underground pipelines. These are usually difficult to detect using traditional leak noise logging techniques due to depth.

Since its utilisation in April 2021 and until the end of 2022, the Smart Ball technology detected 43 leaks in the water transmission network in Dubai, saving 130 million imperial gallons (MIG) of water and Dh5.2 million.

The Smart Ball system consists of a small diameter sphere with a highly sensitive acoustic sensor, that is inserted into the water network, where it travels freely, driven by the water flow. It detects sounds generated by leaks and identifies gas pockets or anomalies, which have unique characteristics. Once the Smart Ball is extracted, the compiled data is analysed by software using mathematical algorithms showing the precise location of leaks, gas pockets, or anomalies.

The Smart Ball travels freely inside the transmission pipes at around 3 kilometres per hour and can inspect over 35 kilometres in one day without affecting the water flow.

“We attach great importance to enhancing efficiency in all our operations by using the latest disruptive technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution applications in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and water to provide our services according to the highest standards of quality, availability, reliability, and efficiency. In addition to ensuring around-the-clock water supply and early detection of leaks to reduce wastage, the Smart Ball technology contributes to reducing losses in water transmission and distribution networks which is currently 4.5% currently, one of the lowest worldwide,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dewa.

Al Tayer noted that the Water Smart Distribution Management System, which Dewa launched, improves the automation, efficiency of operations and reliability of water supplies. It has a centralised around-the-clock system for remote control and monitoring, as well as innovative smart equipment and systems. The system uses Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) installed at interconnections between the transmission and distribution pipelines. In addition, it is linked with advanced water Scada (Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition) and hydraulic-management systems. The system improves fault location and lowers costs.

Abdullah Obaidullah, Executive Vice President of Water & Civil at Dewa, said that Dewa monitors and remotely controls the water transmission network round the clock using the Scada systems.

This is linked to over 8,500 smart devices installed on pumping stations, reservoirs, and the water transmission and distribution pipeline network, which spans about 16,000 kilometres. He added that the Smart Ball leak detection technology reduces operational expenses, as small cracks in the water transmission pipelines are treated before they increase in size and cause further water wastage.


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