LESAM 2017 – Trondheim

LESAM 2017 – Trondheim – day 1

Today is the first day of LESAM, the Leading Edge Sustainable Asset Management of Water and Wastewater Infrastructure conference, where both science and water practice are represented. This combination dovetails nicely with KWR’s mission of ‘bridging science to practice’, and that appeals to me. Several speakers are talking about how they design their asset management. The ‘Data’ segment is a key aspect here, because it is essential when it comes to determining which mains should be replaced, and when. Specifically, this covers data on failures, mains and the environment. It strikes me that a number of speakers refer incidentally to the importance of data quality. Tomorrow (day 2) I’ll be making a presentation on USTORE (uniform failure registration database), and more concretely on the quality of the data in the USTORE database. The drinking water companies have collaborated to this end in establishing a quality assurance system. I’m curious about what the group of international attendees will think of this approach. I hope there will be an interesting discussion which will both profit the different participants and inspire KWR. There’s no doubt about the importance of the subject. As in many other instances, it is also the case with this subject that we’re not the only ones dealing with it.

The day will close with an organ concert by Nidaros Domen, and an enjoyable reception with lots of time to meet others.

Advanced data management & innovative technologies at LESAM 2017 – day 2

During the second day of the LESAM conference there have been some interesting presentations. In the session Advanced data management & innovative technologies our (ex)-colleague Maurits Maks presented the research about the inspection robot for underground water mains. There was interest from the audience, specially asking when the robot will be on the market. After that, Dag Hansen from Techni AS presented the world’s first autonomous digless water connection and its implementation in Oslo. With this novel technique first a thorough 3D-scan of the soil is done. After that an autonomous robot, which departs from the basement of the building, will navigate in the underground until the distribution pipe creating a connection between the distribution pipe and the building.

During the conference, data quality has been mentioned several times as a challenge to improve asset management. These issues are tackled during the afternoon by a block of presentations from KWR. Mirjam Blokker introduced the UKNOW concept, Andreas Moerman presented USTORE, Claudia Agudelo-Vera explained how to use the PDCA to validate replacement decisions and Ralph Beuken showed the last development on sharing knowledge about condition assessment technologies of the pipe-works database. The last one generatie a lot of interaction with the public. The participants highlighted the need for such tool and stressed the importance of transparency.

Another recurrent thema is the optimal coordination of Asset Management activities of different infrastructures, which is a relevant issue for the Dutch drinking water companies.

In a parallel session Ina Vertommen  introduced the concept of water distribution network blueprints and how their design can be optimized using Gondwana (an optimization platform developed by KWR). These approach was considered as innovative and really relevant to improve the existing water networks.

Ralph Beuken, Mirjam Blokker, Claudia Agudelo-Vera en Andreas Moerman

Third day at the IWA-LESAM2017 conference in Trondheim

The third and final day of the LESAM conference focussed on rather new topics that gain more interest in the field of asset management: the trade-off between cost and reliability, the importance of ICT solutions and their vulnerability to cyber-attacks and an approach for integrated modelling of drinking water systems. The LESAM conference is since 2004 organized by the IWA specialist group on asset management. It was the sixth conference where I participated, this time together with 160 others. Over the years I have seen large shift of the topics, reflecting the change of scope within the field of asset management research. During the first years most attention was given to define the concept of asset management and case studies focussing on adaptations of the organization structure of utilities. The current version is more gearing towards implementation of decision support on asset replacements, involvement of risk management and models for studying system behaviour in a changing environment. The more mature use of models also makes clear that efforts are required of securing a good quality of the information systems and the applied data.

Looking at the presentations of KWR at the conference, it is clear that the topics we presented (see also the blog of Claudia Agudelo) were well received and found highly relevant. The most important factors for success are the high quality of water supply in The Netherlands and the research that is collaborated in close cooperation with these companies. The presentations from other countries also make clear with which partners collaboration on research looks promising. In the four out of six presentations given by KWR within the framework of UKNOW, we underlined the importance of taking the reality from utilities as a starting point for research and from that deriving what the required knowledge is and how should this be developed as efficiently as possible. The question we posed here was: what are the main uncertainties for creating better asset decisions  and how are these decreased in the most efficient way?

The participants of the LESAM conference in front of the main building of the NTNU in Trondheim.