Pre-Loc - New automatic leak search system for drinking water pipelines

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Key problems of all water delivering and providing companies are water leaks which one can be find in nearly every pipeline system in the world.

In most of European countries, up to 40% of the injected water is lost and huge costs incur to find the leaks and to repair them.

In countries like South Africa, where water is a rare and most expensive good, water leaks cost big towns millions of Euro every year, some of which losing up to 45 % of the injected water.

The T.O.M system enables the responsible workers to find leaks very quickly and avoid a lot of not necessary digging measurements. The digging and repairing process will be finalized much quicker than nowadays and customers will profit from the T.O.M system very quickly.

In addition, the system delivers data about the specific locations and water throughputs of valves, which can be used by firefighters to prepare their action maps.

T.O.M will be distributed worldwide with the following features:

  • quick leak finding
  • up-to date maps of the complete water distribution pipeline system
  • up-to-date information about water flows with exact flow measurements
  • starting with prevention measures as soon as micro leaks are detected
  • working with all type of pipeline material (plastic as well as steel)
  • easy to use - worldwide

Users and their needs

Customer segments that could benefit from the T.O.M system include:

  • water utility companies
  • service companies for leak detection
  • tick groups for remote water supplies
  • water distribution companies
  • mine operators

The main goal of our customers is to ensure lasting water supply for the people. This requires water extraction, water treatment, water storage, water distribution, providing water in enough quantity, providing water in sufficient quality and be complied with laws and regulations. In addition, they must develop new residential or commercial areas, update plan documents on an ongoing basis and checking and maintaining pipe networks for leaks.

The main problem of our customers is to localize the damages in the water pipeline in order to find them quickly. The main cost factors are maintenance in the pipe network, working hours for leak detection, repair of damage caused by leaks, corroded fittings or damaged infrastructures, excavations to carry out all repairs, elaborate prepared water causes energy costs and is lost after elaboration.

Difficulties of the customer are schedule all maintenance, many jobs have to be done without interruptions, no shutter closing time when measures are started, some leakage damage is difficult to find and leak detection equipment fails, stress due to sudden disturbances and unannounced high withdrawals of water and burst pipes. If our customer will find a water shortage due to high loss rate, then the water is turned off – often for hours.

Service/ system concept

The T.O.M system combines maintenance, testing, documentation and leak detection in one go. This saves considerable costs and allows investments to be amortized quickly.

The customer will get fast fault messages in order to react in time, less disruption outside office hours and effective tools for the employees.

With the help of the new T.O.M leak detection system, the leakage quantity can be quickly and easily identified by sub-location. At the same time, maintenance and functional tests on fittings are taken care of in the pipe network so that the supply reliability is permanently guaranteed. The documentation of all measurement results is unique and always visible on a server.

The customer will get exact information about the size of the leak and the position of the problem zone in the pipeline system. In addition, he will be enabled to add this information automatically into existing water pipeline maps. If service databases relate to the T.O.M cloud the end user will be get service instructions and relevant remarks regarding this concrete part of the pipeline.

The T.O.M system measures the existing pressure in the water pipeline using a special pressure sensor for liquids.

The measurement results will be transmitted to the T.O.M server via mobile or satellite communication. In parallel, results will be sent to a T.O.M cloud server to be accessible for additional usage in other applications like special pipeline maps for firefighters.

The T.O.M algorithm running on the server will calculate the position of the leak and send results back to the T.O.M mobile App via mobile or satellite communication.

The App is visualizing the exact position of the leak in a map and in parallel the results will be stored in the T.O.M cloud system.

With T.O.M, digging processes which are often necessary will be made much easier, more efficient and much more cost effective.

Space Added Value

The system will integrate the following Space assets:

Satellite navigation: With the aid of satellite navigation, the exact position of valves, the possibility of defining zones, the connecting point of the T.O.M measurement system to the pipeline and the pipeline network itself will be georeferenced. Using positioning via GPS, GALILEO and GLONASS, the system will have the possibility of working completely automatic and avoiding any kind of manipulation. The T.O.M system will use digital maps to determine the planned and available valves and pipelines. With the Satellite navigation and the available maps included, the T.O.M system will be enabled to measure, calculate and show positions totally automatically.

Satellite communication: If terrestrial mobile communication with the aid of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) will not be possible, an additional communication channel between server and the measurement device in the field will be established with the aid of satellite communication, ensuring that the T.O.M system is operable worldwide, without need for terrestrial networks. Furthermore, national restrictions of Wide Area Networks, which can often be found in the world, will not influence the leak detection process. 

Current Status

Until today, the PreLoc team had many appointments with potential customers, organized user workshops in Europe (mostly in Germany) and are now in the concrete system specification phase of the project. Different use cases have been selected and the specification of the new product, service, and system as well as business model and plan are being refined. A concrete offer from a first customer is already existing. 

Status Date

Updated: 18 December 2019 - Created: 18 December 2019