Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has revealed that its Smart Ball technology has provided significant results in detecting leaks in 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 AED5.2 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.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA, said that 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.

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.