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A Smart Technology Trained for Preventing Leakages from Sewer Systems

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - VIGI-LEAK (A Smart Technology Trained for Preventing Leakages from Sewer Systems)

Reporting period: 2015-11-01 to 2016-01-31

"The market for infrastructure inspection and repair is growing rapidly worldwide driven mainly by contamination of groundwater and soil, high operational costs for rehabilitation of sewer pipelines and environmental regulations. Municipalities demand dynamic infrastructure monitoring in real time and to target resources and repairs where they are most needed.
Roberto Zimmerman Environmental Engineering (R.Z.E.E. Ltd.) has developed “Any Geometry Flume"" sewer flow monitoring method. AGF provides an accurate, practical and simpler way of measurement without the need for expensive sensors and constant maintenance. With this method water level and velocity are measured in parallel and flowrate is computed through common, as well as in-house developed mathematical models. The use of such technology simplifies the implementation of flow measurements in order to monitor malfunctions, such as exfiltration, infiltration and other characteristic problems of sewerage systems.
With VIGI-LEAK, we aim to seize the market gap described above by developing a highly precise real-time flow measurement system. It consists on a measurement station, the named Any Geometry Flume metering system, that takes measurements of fluid level and velocity (hardware) and the VIGI-LEAK correlator system (software) located in the internet cloud to continuously monitor and register flowing volumes and to alert if there is a fault or malfunction in some segment, calculating the magnitude of the leakage. Once detected, pipes would be able to receive rehabilitation methods to reduce leakages (and simultaneously infiltration). It will release sewer operators from being dependant on expensive flow data delivery services providers, representing a powerful tool for engineers and decision makers and meaning a 50% saving of the rehabilitation costs.
Currently, VIGI-LEAK technology is the only available system in the market capable of sensing sewer faulted conditions in real time, such as: leakages (exfiltration), infiltration, surcharging, spillages, blockages and sediment build up. When the sewer system faults or in case of detection of malfunctions, it generates early warnings sent to the operator’s cell phone and/or to a control centre describing the nature of the failure.
Specific objectives for this Feasibility Study are:
Technical viability plan: 1) To define an Execution Plan with the technical specifications and procedures for the whole integrated manufacturing system; 2) To consolidate the definition of the most cost-effective stipulations and procedures for the whole industrial manufacturing process of the sensor and software and its assembling (Life cycle analysis; Target for production cost: €6.000/unit); and 3) To verify technical risk, define a contingency plan and develop process validating tools.
Business plan: 1) To understand the different politic strategies of every country in relation to wastewater treatment, as they change and have different mechanisms. 2) To strengthen the commercial strategy to tap into the sewerage system management companies and export VIGI-LEAK product innovation successfully; 3) To evaluate third party partners to ensure the best commercialisation of VIGI-LEAK; 4) To ensure Freedom to Operate through a patentability assessment study; 5) To thoroughly evaluate the funding requirements (target: €1.5-2M as max. contribution, and 6) To guarantee a R.O.I. = 1.95 after 3 years of commercialization.
During the reporting period, 3 months, from 1st November 2015 to 31st January 2016, the technical and commercial staff of R.Z.E.E. has worked hard to define the technical and economic viability of the development of VIGI-LEAK.
We have carried out the verification of VIGI-LEAK method in a section of a sewer network in Israel, The ‘Hadar Stream” Pipeline thanks to the useful work of Professor Eran Fiedler that has scientifically certified VIGI-LEAK technology, its performance and usefulness. For that purpose, a second test (for verification of the results obtained in June 2014) was done in that same sewer pipeline during September 2015 over two weeks. This second measurement verified the previous obtained results revealing losses of 950-1,150 m3/day, along a pipe segment of 1.2 Km, indicating and quantifying the exfiltration. As a result of those successful experimental pilots the Israeli Water Authority issued a support letter giving impetus for VIGI-LEAK commercialization.
We have also developed a feasibility study according to the activities planned to execute the Phase 1. To ensure that VIGI-LEAK project meets the technical, commercial and financing requirements for its successful implementation and commercialization and to find key collaboration partners that complement our expertise during the industrial scale up of the technology and participate in its commercialization, we followed the work:
Task 1. Technical Plan: We have analyzed the technical feasibility of VIGI-LEAK and operational conditions for the industrial scale up. We have defined the technological needs and the management, staffing and organization resources, human and technical, for developing the project. We have evaluated the technical risks that could arise during the execution of the activities.
Task 2. Key partners and customers search: We have identified key partners’ profiles suitable to participate in the industrial scale up of VIGI-LEAK and, later on, on its future commercialization. We have identified as well some of the customers who will be most likely to buy this new technology and key stakeholders.
Task 3. Commercial and Exploitation Plan: We have developed a market analysis addressing the problems and the business opportunities. We included a study of targeted users, economic benefits for users (selling point & value for money), market barriers, and an opportunities and risk assessment (SWOT analysis). Finally, we have detailed the parameters to be considered for future improvements.
We have completed a Business Plan regarding the current state-of-the-art in preventing leakages technologies, which confirms our freedom to operate. We carried out a technological approach and competitiveness advantages study. We have developed an operational plan and a sales plan which include a complete study of target sectors and countries with market trends, penetration and opportunities. We carried out a marketing plan.
Task 4. Financial Feasibility Study: The financial viability has been evaluated via the consolidation of the business model. We have completed a freedom to operate analysis verifying that there are no EU patents, trademarks or other IP rights already issued that represent a barrier for the commercialization of our technology. The projection of revenues, margin and return of investment (ROI) for the first 5 years has been updated.
VIGI-LEAK will represent an efficient and cost effective innovation for continuous measurements of flow rates in sewer pipelines. It will cover a niche market in sewage leakage prevention, transforming the burden of repair into major cost savings for water utilities and their customers.

We will offer with VIGI-LEAK an unique system capable of sensing sewer faulted conditions in real time, monitoring gravitational flow in a continuous flowing, in order to prevent potential damages translated in contamination and rehabilitation costs (1,100€ per lineal kilometre). With a low investment for the end user (11,000€ per equipment), VIGI-LEAK has the potential of being a unique commercial technology able to confirm and quantify those leaks, representing a reliable instrument for executing such monitoring.

Some other advantages of VIGI-LEAK technology will be an improvement of public health by providing safe water supply and waste disposal, avoiding additional infrastructure investments and prevention of environmental disasters and avoid the threat of intervention and fines.

By meanwhile increasing our current sales of the pilot prototype version during the project execution, we expect to have a final product of VIGI-LEAK technology by the end of 2018, and sell it to the relevant actors in the waste water management sector in Israel and Europe, reaching U.S in 2021, overtaking the 2.000 units sold.