A unique solution for smarter sewerages

When Fredrik Sahl was on parental leave he had an idea, and now he is on his way solving Umeå municipality's problems with water leakage in the sewage. Thanks to his background as a civil engineer in energy technology and Umeå Energi's investment in the latest technology in data transfer technology, a thought became reality.

- It feels absolutely right to be in the front line with new technology and to do something that no one else has done, says Petter Walan, research engineer at the municipal water and wastewater company Vakin.

The municipality of Umeå, as an expansive in-migrant city, has major challenges ahead. In 2050, the vision is that Umeå will have grown from today's 127,000 inhabitants to 200,000, which will place great demands on the planning of management networks and the maintenance of the existing ones. In many districts it is old, sub-dimensioned pipes that are severely affected by leaks with unnecessary operating costs as a result.

This was a problem that Fredrik Sahl discovered when he was up one night with a child who did not want to sleep.

- I actively searched the web for major social challenges that fit my type of education and ended up on Umeå's water and sewerage strategy. Soon enough, I realized that leaks is a big problem and that the crucial point is to find the sources where the water penetrates, says Fredrik.

Smarter and cost effective
Thanks to his knowledge in energy technology, an idea came to life in order to measure the water temperature with sensors as a possible solution. At the labor market fair Uniaden at Umeå University, he came in contact with Petter Walan, which led to Fredrik initiating a test project. Vakin liked the idea of ​​conducting wireless temperature measurements with sensors for one year and they provided expert help, giving Fredrik an opportunity to test the technology on Umeå municipality's sewerage network.

At the same time, the energy company Umeå Energi had come a long way with its investment in the radio network LoRa, which is a wireless digital data transmission technology that has spread throughout the world. The technology has unbeatable range, long battery life and is cost effective. It has great potential and is seen as a stepping stone for the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities and smart houses.

- Our role as an infrastructure builder is to create the conditions for our customers to do smarter things and generate opportunities. This is a fantastic example where you can deviate from a traditional way and make it smarter and more cost-effective, says Kent Bergquist, product manager at Umeå Energi.

A solution for all of Sweden
Today Fredrik Sahl has formed the service company Flow Below and the collaboration with Vakin has led to an assignment to investigate leaks in the old district of Haga in Umeå, where there are sometimes large amounts of leaks after rain and thunderstorms, but also basement floodings and when the drainage network overflows.

- In normal cases it is expensive to measure leakage and difficult to get a comprehensive picture of a larger area, but there are problems that we circumvent using this technology. We hope and believe it can help us in the future, says Petter Walan.

- We are now turning to the whole of Sweden as this is a problem that is known to many municipal water and waste companies. With our help you can locate the places where measures have the greatest impact and where we deliver value, says Fredrik Sahl.

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