With the aim of improving service quality and client satisfaction, ACCIONA has implemented a project to optimize the management of the end-to-end water cycle that has already led to major environmental benefits in its first year in operation: lower water and energy consumption and fewer CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.
Through the introduction of new technologies and improvements in organizational and production processes, new operational procedures that are more sustainable and environment-friendly have been achieved, while reducing inefficient costs in the medium term.
This operational plan to improve efficiency in the management of the end-to-end water cycle runs for three years and covers all Water Supply and Sanitation Services, Potable and Wastewater Treatment Plants and Seawater Desalination facilities managed by ACCIONA in Spain, where the company provides a service to more than 2.7 million users.
A multidisciplinary ACCIONA team has worked on the definition and implementation of the plan, working closely with contractors. It includes the actions to be performed, the timescale and periodic reviews to ensure compliance.
Following the design and task definition phase, a pilot program began in June 2018 and lasted four months in a series of plants and services managed by ACCIONA: The Water and Sanitation Service of Villarrubia de los Ojos (Ciudad Real); the Wastewater Treatment Plant at Arroyo Culebro (Madrid), and Desalination Plant in Jávea (Alicante).
Once the pilot phase ended in September 2018 the first phase of the project began. It lasted until the end of 2018 and focused on the major business units or those that showed a greater margin for improvement. Early this year ACCIONA started the final phase of the project in the remaining units, and it will continue in 2020 in the company's subsidiaries in Spain and abroad.
Among the main results obtained, we would highlight the improvement in hydraulic performance of the network through the introduction of a GIS-based remote-control system and mathematical models. Moreover, leak noise loggers, correlators and smart balls and have used, and a series of specific actions have been implemented such as night campaigns to look for leaks, night low controls and pressure regulation by sector, during the day/night and/or depending on demand.
The plan has also led to a significant reduction in electricity consumption and costs thanks to the optimization of energy processes and adjustments to contract capacities, the signature of Framework Agreements for the purchase of HV and LV power, and the preventive and predictive maintenance measures put in place.
For example, operation of the facilities has been programmed to adapt to the best times for energy saving; frequency variators have been used to adjust consumption to real needs; condensers have been incorporated to eliminate the consumption of reagents and high energy yield equipment has been installed.
To optimize the consumption of reagents in treatment plants, sensors and automated dosing systems have also been installed. Special attention has also been give to waste management, incorporating drying and sanitization processes to facilitate the use and transport of waste.
To improve service provision, emphasis has been placed on the digitalization of data and the automation of processes through the implementation of Geographical Information Systems; remote control, sensorization and telemetry; creation of mathematical models; development of IT systems for business management and work organization, and the use of Business Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence to incorporate all the data from wastewater treatment and desalination plants and services to optimize operation and maintenance tasks.
Smart meters, remote reading, differentiated invoicing according to uses and levels of consumption and e-invoicing have been used to facilitate the process of meter reading, invoicing and collection of sums from users.
As for maintenance and personnel costs, equipment and installations have been renewed by selecting those that require low maintenance; a series of preventive and predictive maintenance tasks have been programmed and a reorganization of the work system has been made by area and function. Some of these functions are shared centrally.
The plan to improve the efficiency of the management of the end-to-end water cycle has a budget of 2.3 million euros over three years, with the aim of improving service quality and guaranteeing client satisfaction.