Better connected: how FYLD is raising standards in water field teams
Field projects in the water industry have been hampered for too long by inaccurate information and poor communication. FYLD is here to drive change.
Field teams are the backbone of critical infrastructure, keeping clean water flowing in the face of droughts, flooding, and ageing infrastructure. But too often, that expertise and hard work go to waste because of factors such as outdated tools, a lack of communication between stakeholders, and inaccurate information.
While FYLD was a product originally created for the gas industry, water has been in our DNA since the very beginning, with several of our first clients operating in the sector. Ultimately, the aims of FYLD are broadly the same regardless of sector – delivering real-time information and data to decision managers, enabling collaboration between project teams, and helping companies capture job outputs. The product has proven highly effective, digitising a wealth of tasks, which has seen FYLD develop a client base in the UK, US, and Chile.
Anyone who takes even a passing interest in the news will know how much pressure water companies are under. Leakage is a critical issue in the utilities world, with regulators handing out fines running into tens of millions of pounds for companies that have breached leakage levels set out by regulators. The recent drought in the UK has put leakage under the microscope even more so.
Central to improving standards is evolving how clients and contractors work together. It is common for the leading water services companies to use contractors to carry out repair and maintenance jobs, or work on large capital investment schemes, too. But too often, collaboration and information exchange between the two parties has been found lacking. With the FYLD platform, we know that we have a technology that can easily be integrated into day-to-day operations that will drive real-time information exchange between the different parties working on these projects.
One of the first clients in the water sector we worked with was Morrison Water Services (MWS), which carries out a range of management services, planning and development, and operational delivery. It introduced the FYLD platform into its operations to great effect, with managers able to see operational data in real time, enabling informed decision-making, efficient workflows, and boosting productivity.
MWS utilised the FYLD application in a maintenance project with Yorkshire Water. The benefits of the application were seen and appreciated by the utility company. Now, when MWS and Yorkshire Water work together on projects, they begin the field job with a surveyor from Yorkshire Water before the repair team arrives on site. It significantly reduces delays because the contractor has an up-to-date and accurate survey video to work from. MWS and Yorkshire Water have seen a decrease in job aborts, an increase in productivity, and a 10% fall in leakage times.
The FYLD application enables a greatly enhanced level of information sharing and data handover. The water industry suffers from mismanagement of information. Too often, we see duplication of efforts or contractors arriving in the field to begin a job only to realise they have the wrong or old information, or the site is incorrectly prepared. This causes delays that can lead to huge fines, and job delays. And many of the issues could be avoided.
The FYLD platform has proven effective in ensuring a smooth handover process. It integrates both companies into a job timeline and updates all stakeholders and managers in real time. That means the initial visit from a utility can be seen and interacted with by a planning team, a supervisory team, or an in-house expert from a contractor. So, that job planning process is made a lot easier because they can see a video site survey highlighting any potential issues. Planning teams can start their projects in the field knowing exactly what they need to do and what equipment and tools they’ll need, reducing the chance of costly delays.
We’re giving the utility companies and contractors a foundation to work together far more effectively, and the business case for leakage is there to see in black and white. Better collaboration and data exchange should be seen as a tool not just to avoid fines but also to outperform leakage targets. Utilities that can do so will benefit from millions of pounds in incentives.
These principles are the same for pollution – another current white-hot topic. The data capture provided by the platform, the proactive alerts it sends to management, and the job blocker information are all applicable when it comes to pollution, capturing pollution events and evidence, and ultimately stopping pollution from occurring. That drives better response times and reduces how long projects take to complete. We’re also enabling companies to be proactive when it comes to reporting, which is something the UK’s Environmental Agency has told utilities they must do. FYLD gives users the tools to capture incidents, escalate them, and deliver all the necessary evidence.
We’re working on this area with Southern Water and its contractors. The FYLD platform can carry out all that initial survey work and monitor ammonia levels, chemical oxygen demand (COD), and other indicators. There are pollution parameters that utilities must adhere to, and FYLD measures them in real time, pushing data to dashboards that managers can access instantly. It means that if an issue becomes apparent, it can be escalated in seconds. The same is true for noncompliance events, supported by video and photo evidence.
It is a real step forward in how stakeholders in the water industry can work together to benefit the whole sector.