United Utilities rolls out real-time leak reporting

United Utilities is rolling out real time leak reporting technology across the whole of the North West following a successful trial.

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United Utilities is rolling out real time leak reporting technology across its main region, the North West, following a successful trial of 35 devices.

This month the company will begin installing the Pinpoint system from supplier eSAY Mobile, to provide real time GPS locations of water leaks, replacing a paper-based system. The system is also being used by Anglian Water and South West Water.

90 handheld PDA devices carrying the software will be issued to leak detection engineers, including contractors, covering all four United Utilities regions. The roll-out will be done on an incremental basis, to allow for tailored training sessions, and the company plans to add the ability to issue jobs to field workers via the PDAs.

The system enables workers in the field to file real-time reports of leaks and defects, in a tickbox format, on their PDA device. United Utilities’ headquarters can then act quickly on the information, which contains a 12-digit grid reference for the site of the leak. This is automatically generated by the software, using GPS technology built into the hand-held device.

In the 35-device pilot project, the system delivered quicker and more accurate reporting, reducing leakage periods as jobs were scheduled within minutes instead of days. Around five hours a week were saved per engineer, because they were allowed to log on and off for work remotely and the need was removed to deliver paper forms to head office.

Across the business, United Utilities calculated that it would save £280,800 annually when the devices were up and running, as it would have 450 hours more productive time per week.

Paul Parr, leakage planner at United Utilities, said: “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. The system will also significantly cut down on travel time for engineers.”

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

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