Super Hydrants! Merging State-of-the-Art Hydrant Performance and Data Integration

Fire hydrants have gone digital. It’s an interesting sub­ject considering the average person probably doesn’t think much about hydrants other than to avoid parking their car in front of them. But in the water utility sector, Mueller is taking hydrants to the next level.

In looking at water network data and analysis, integrating into a single plat­form to aid decision making is changing distribution system management. Here, we’ll look at this from the standpoint of the Mueller Sentryx Water Intelligence platform, which integrates this data to provide utility op­erators with insights and analysis about what is happening in their distribution system.

One hydrant with new digital capabilities – whether retrofitting an existing Mueller hydrant or installing a new one – is known as the Sentryx software enabled Super Centurion hydrant.

Mueller introduces Sentryx-enabled Super Centurion hydrant

The hydrant acts as a communications hub, housing state-of-the-art sensors that communicate data to the scal­able, fully cloud-based Sentryx platform. This solution is de­signed for any size water distribution network. Back in the office, the Sentryx platform can display insights from these data sources – including from pressure monitor­ing, leak detection and water quality – on any computer or tablet connected to the internet.

“We’ve packed it full of sensors so now you can get information on pressure and leaks. All of it gets relayed to the Sentryx Water Intelligence Platform,” says Walter Wojick, Mueller Water Products’ product manager for the Sentryx software enabled Super Centurion, who’s been heavily involved in the development of the ad­vanced hydrant.

Wojick says one of the features he’s proud of is that the hydrant provides all of the traditional hydrant functions, plus the technology features. He notes a lot of products in the market provide new technology but detract from core function­ality, leading to compromises.

“There are two different groups here who use hydrants,” he explains. “You have folks who install hydrants, maintain hydrants and repair hydrants, these are operations crews, utility crews and contractor crews – they don’t care about the data. They want a hydrant that acts like a normal hydrant, which is what we have provided. Plus, this smart hydrant has all the data and the technology for the folks who need it. It’s really a product that brings together two very different uses in a really easy, user-friendly approach.”

In terms of installation, field crews will retrofit existing hydrants with the permanent leak monitoring solution. The pressure monitoring system, Wojick says, can be installed easily by a typical utility hydrant crew. He says it’s somewhat analogous to replacing a main valve and can take about 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the condition of the hydrant. It’s also important to note that the added digital components are virtually indistinguishable from the “traditional” hydrant, making it less susceptible to damage or theft.

The Sentryx software enabled Super Centurion hydrant is also capable of switching, from standard mode into transient mode when certain inputs are received, such that pressure transients can be investigated with the goal of identifying causes of pipe bursts, excessive energy costs and under-pressure conditions. Since the Sentryx platform is completely hosted in the cloud, users do not need to worry about new software to install or upgrade or licenses to manage. The Sentryx software enabled Super Centurion hydrant typically offers up to 10 years of battery life.

The Sentryx Water Intelligence Platform also utilizes an open Application Programming Interface (API) structure, such that Mueller can work with utility customers to integrate third-party devices to accommodate any unique needs of a particular water system. With cybersecurity in mind, Mueller has developed these technology products; in addition, Mueller has also partnered with several leading technology service provider companies to protect both utility and customer data. One of the challenges Sentryx aims to address is utilities having separate systems that would show only leaks, only pressure or only quality. Wojick describes Sentryx as a road-map for utilities to tie multiple sensors into a single platform.

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“This really shows how Sentryx is a one-stop-shop for getting a customer in one user interface all of this data from various sensors,” Wojick says. “It’s a platform that is scalable both in type and in number of sensors and it provides this data for quick, actionable decisions by utility folks who need to plan, deploy crews and manage aging infrastructure.”

Wojick sums up by noting that the Sentryx software enabled Super Centurion hydrant is yet another example of an innovation aimed at helping prioritize infrastruc­ture renewal in an effort to maintain assets and pre­serve utility funds.

“The infrastructure in North America is aging and the budgets to replace and repair are not growing in conjunc­tion with that aging,” he says. “So, we need to be more in tune and more accurate in how we repair and replace those sections of pipe. The Sentryx platform, with the pres­sure monitoring and leak detection [capabilities], provide that ability to get right to the problem location.

Editor’s Note: This article is sponsored content and originally appeared in a Mueller-sponsored eBook developed by Water Finance & Management covering new technology for water distribution system monitoring. You can download the complete, complimentary eBook here.

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