Dutch consultants help create digital twin of water utility infrastructure

15 April 2021 Consultancy.eu 3 min. read

RoyalHaskoningDHV Digital is helping a Dutch regional water authority create a digital twin of its entire wastewater treatment infrastructure – enabling speed, accuracy and efficiency in decision-making, as well as cost and energy optimisation. 

Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg (WBL) is a regional water management authority in charge of 17 wastewater treatment plants and nearly 150 sewage pumping stations. The body has commissioned engineering and design consultancy RoyalHaskoningDHV’s newly established digital transformation arm to modernise this entire network through technology. 

The aim is to align with new challenges of climate change, sustainability, and regulatory shifts. In focus is digital twin technology – an exact virtual copy of WBL’s waste management network that enables innovation, experimentation, scenario planning and analysis in a simulated, risk-free environment. Results can be applied in the real system with minimal time and cost.

Dutch consultants help create digital twin of water utility infrastructure

“We are delighted to partner with WBL to realise its progressive vision over the coming years. It fits seamlessly with our vision of the role of digital twins in the future management of wastewater treatment,” said Aris Witteborg, Digital Smart Water professional at RoyalHaskoningDHV Digital. 

For now, two technologies make up the digital twin: a Big Data platform that collects data in real time from WBL sources; and RoyalHaskoningDHV Digital’s proprietary Aquasuite technology – a smart water tool that monitors, analyses, visualises and controls the performance of wastewater systems through predictive analytics and machine learning. 

Aquasuite will manage the daily grind of all 149 sewage pumping stations and preemptively detect anomalies in the system. Back in the control room, operators will have a visualised dashboard of the entire infrastructure, and receive intuitive reports in case of a malfunction.

The use of machine learning ensures continual improvement, boosting efficiency and cutting the resources deployed towards maintenance – conventionally the biggest cost base for water authorities. Per a statement, both technologies – the Big Data platform and Aquasuite – will be up and running by September this year.

And this is just the start. WBL and RoyalHaskoningDHV Digital will continue to enhance the digital twin tech through AI, and have signed a six-year agreement to further explore the applications of data science in improving wastewater management. All technology will be implemented using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform – to support round-the-clock management of the smart water system.

“Over the years to come, WBL will take an essential next step in the development of data-driven business operations. By choosing Royal HaskoningDHV Digital, we have gained a partner with a valuable combination of expertise: in-depth knowledge of wastewater treatment management and digital know-how,” noted WBL board member Remy Sleijpen.