Murphy and SES Water collaborate to save water, time and money with new SmartBall® leak detection technology



A new innovative technology has saved money for customers and avoided the need for a new water pipe.

J. Murphy & Sons Limited (Murphy) used an innovative solution called SmartBall® on a project in Surrey, to survey an existing water main for SES Water. The Murphy team worked closely with the Water Research Centre (WRc), Pure Technologies (a Xylem company) and the client, SES Water.

After using SmartBall® - a rolling pipe inspection tool that uses acoustic and magnetic sensors to locate leaks and features in pipe mains - the initial results showed that the capacity of the pipeline could be increased without the need to install a new 2.5km long water pipe at a cost of £2.7 million.

“Innovation is vital for us and a key part of our strategy in the future. It’s about using our assets smarter and keeping costs down for customers. This was a great collaborative effort across all four companies to do just that” said Simon Thomson, Project Manager, SES Water.

Murphy Project Manager, Kevin Mullan said that innovation with supply chain partners is one of the key driving points at Murphy.

“We are always looking for the best ideas, technologies and partners to work with to deliver the best solutions for our clients. We were aware of the challenges we would face by building a new water pipe through third party land, so we looked hard for an alternative solution.”

Before building the new water main, Murphy inspected the integrity of the existing pipes with Smartball® and found historic issues with gaskets in the joints that weren’t as significant as believed. This meant localised repairs could be made to the network at a significant saving to SES Water.

“We were delighted to help Murphy survey the pipeline using the SmartBall® technology, which is likely to result in a no-build solution to improving water sustainability for SES customers,” said Keith Walker, Head of Infrastructure at WRc.

Initial results from the survey suggested there are no significant problems with the integrity of the two pipelines, but further analysis of the data collected will take place over the next couple of weeks to provide detailed results. This data will be used to identify any rehabilitation required before the pipelines are re-purposed for use as pumping mains rather than gravity distribution pipelines.

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