Smart Machines & Factories
Upgrade to water supply
Published:  16 August, 2021
Schneider Electric and Thames Water team up to upgrade London's water supply

Schneider Electric, a leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation, has announced it has worked with Thames Water to upgrade and unify the complex computer system controlling London’s water supply.

The project involved moving from a 25-year-old system, composed of multiple legacy and obsolete sub-systems to a new, universal SCADA platform, all while maintaining water supply across the capital. One of the largest water systems in the world, the new technology provides Thames Water with an open interface system. This means data can be collated and processed from over 4,000 outstations and delivered instantly to the company’s departments, leading to new levels of insight and autonomy over energy usage.

The unified system will enable Thames Water to make operational savings, through improving the total lifespan of the systems components, reducing maintenance and the level of control required, while improving resilience and efficiency. Its open, yet secure nature mean that it can easily integrate with third party software and products easily, meaning enhanced flexibility for users.

Carly Bradburn, Thames Water’s head of digital operations, said: “The computer system oversees the production, treatment and delivery of up to 2.2 billion litres of drinking water every day. Replacing it has been a very complex and challenging project. The old system was over 25 years old and software updates were no longer available. Replacing it needed the engagement of multiple stakeholder groups, external suppliers and companies, and has been a vast undertaking.

“The commissioning of the new system included checking and validating more than 700,000 data points, and around 100,000 functional, mimic, alarm and user tests to ensure minimal operational disruption and risk. This has been a monumental achievement. What once seemed impossible has been done,” She continued.

Mark Grimshaw, Thames Water’s head of London water production, said: “Investing in resilient systems and assets is one of our key priorities. There can’t be many more important projects than updating the technology that ensures a reliable water supply for one of the world’s major cities.

Keeping the old system up and running while launching the new system alongside it has been a monumental effort by everyone involved – a great example of teamwork at its very best.”

“The project set a number of unique challenges. The facilities operate 24/7, meaning that the team had to make the changes as quickly as possible, and with practically no disruption to the service. I’m extremely proud of what we have been able to achieve – from design, specification and procurement to installation, integration, testing and finally operation, this project has involved collaboration from countless parties. The system in place will help to create a more efficient, resilient and usable water network for the whole of London.”

Andrew Ballard, Schneider Electric VP Process Automation commented: "We are proud to have worked with Thames Water on such a critical and challenging project and we are looking forward to supporting them on managing their aging infrastructure and with their next steps on the Digital Transformation Journey."