Proof of Concept of an On-line Pump Scheduling and Control system

Woodward, K.1 and Fowler, M.2

1United Utilities, UK, 2Tynemarch Systems Engineering Ltd, UK


United Utilities (UU), as many other water companies, needs to minimise its operating costs and reduce its carbon emissions.  Power consumption at water pumping stations accounts for a significant proportion of UU’s overall operating costs.  Operation of pumping stations is often not as cost-effective as it could be, with limited consideration to electricity tariffs, triad periods and efficient pumping regimes.  Opportunities exist for improvements to be made in this area by optimising the scheduled use of pumps.  Studies previously carried out indicate that cost savings of around 5-10% are achievable.

Understanding the potential benefits of pump scheduling from studies, UU wanted to understand the options for implementation.  The company is in the process of replacing the IT hub of its telemetry system with a COTS package (Siemens WinCC-OA).  The package offers ‘open’ connectivity enabling improved interfaces to monitoring and control infrastructure as well as other IT systems.  UU also use Tynemarch’s Miser optimisation software for water resources and production planning.  The software is also capable of producing optimised pump schedules.

It was decided to carry out a small ‘proof-of-concept’ project to trial the use of WinCC-OA in tandem with Miser.  Part of a supply network was selected for the trial consisting of a 2 pump pumping station and the service reservoir it feeds.  The pilot system also needed to interface with monitoring and control to provide a working ‘On-line’ system.  The project scope included configuration of WinCC-OA including user interfaces; modifications to on-site control systems; and development of an interface between WinCC-OA and Miser.  Model build including demand forecasting was also carried out within Miser.  UU Operational staff were fully involved from Concept through to Implementation.

The aims of the project were to:

  • Demonstrate that the technology is fit-for-purpose and supportable.
  • Provide evidence that the expected Opex savings are realisable.
  • Inform decisions regarding a future operating model including ‘fallback’ operation.
  • Provide a set of lessons-learnt and inform requirements for a production system.
  • Understand likely implementation costs of a production system.

This paper presents the results of the proof-of-concept project in relation to the aims above.

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