Platform for optimizing the operation of water systems

Motivation: untapped digitalization potential

More than 4000 companies ensure drinking water supply in Germany. The vast majority of these are small and medium-sized water supply companies. So far, these use information and automation technology only to a very limited extent. As a result, measurement data is usually not collected systematically. Furthermore, in many cases the companies do not have a sufficiently maintained database of the water network, nor do they have geo-information systems (GIS), simulation software or data analysis tools through which interventions in the drinking water system (e.g. expansion of the network) can be planned and optimized. Large water utilities are often better equipped technically. Although a lot of measurement data is available, it can hardly be used to monitor and optimize drinking water and wastewater systems due to a lack of networking as well as a lack of specialized personnel.

Aim: Sustainable safety and operational optimization

The W-Net 4.0 project aims to develop a modular and scalable platform that combines GIS system, simulation software and data analysis tools and meets high IT security standards. Combined with novel service concepts, value-added networks and training concepts, small and medium-sized water utilities will be enabled to use these technologies for the first time. For large utilities, novel and easy-to-use data analysis and optimization tools as well as corresponding service concepts will be made available.

In the project, the entire value chain from data acquisition to digitized documentation to verification by simulation models is to be mapped end-to-end. The networked GIS, simulation and data analysis platform is being developed on the basis of existing modules for data transfer that are already in use in industrial production environments. One focus of the software development is on adapted machine-to-machine and human-to-machine interfaces that can also be operated by less IT-trained personnel. The new platform is being tested in practice at small, medium and one large water utility.

Benefits of the new platform

In the future, the platform will enable small and medium-sized utilities to operate and maintain their networks according to demand. In addition, they will be able to sustainably secure or increase drinking water quality through improved monitoring based on sensor data, as well as detect leaks in the drinking water network at an early stage. Large water utilities can benefit from the research project by introducing a network of sensor providers as well as service providers in the field of GIS, simulation, data analysis and process optimization.

Project partners and tasks:

  • Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB
    Project coordination, development of data analysis tools.
  • COS Geoinformatik GmbH & Co. KG
    Development of a user-friendly GIS; integration of data analysis and simulation tools
  • 3S Consult GmbH
    Development of simulation tools and training simulators
  • SchwarzwaldWasser GmbH (Black Forest Water Ltd.)
    Application of the new platform at at least 3 small water suppliers
  • Berliner Wasserbetriebe (Berlin Water Services)
    Application of the novel platform (with focus on data analysis in the field of drinking water quality and wastewater processes

Department MRD of Fraunhofer IOSB

You want to learn more about our projects in this area? Then please visit the page of our MRD department and inform yourself about further projects.

Project details

Project duration: 11/2018 - 7/2022

The W-Net 4.0 project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the funding measure Industrie 4.0 - Collaborations in Dynamic Value Networks (InKoWe).

Research topic

You want to learn more about this topic area? Then visit the research topic page “Water 4.0 - Monitoring and operational management of water infrastructures“ and find out more.