One week after leading water experts gathered at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas to discuss the most critical water market issues, the hotel flooded due to a water main break. There is no doubt that our water infrastructure is aging fast, but what are the solutions and how are companies positioning to deliver? Here are some key takeaways from this year’s 2018 AWWA ACE Conference, that offer a look into the future of water:
The digital transformation is underway in water. The wide range of companies exhibiting more advanced, digital solutions– from the likes of Trimble, Xylem, Arcadis, Matchpoint, and Fracta– demonstrates the increasing availability of technology options. Even the signage highlighted the digital transformation: Badger Meter’s tagline: “Smart Water is AMI without the infrastructure” was seen throughout the hotel lobby. The challenge for these vendors is to identify the utilities and municipalities looking to proactively seek efficiencies across the asset management spectrum.
Bluefield President, Reese Tisdale, spoke to a packed room on this very topic: the digitization of water markets. Over the course of the week, our team of water experts listened to companies discuss the need for improved insights into procurement strategies and technology adoption by utilities, including the impact of emerging communications protocols and providers (e.g. Comcast). The conflicting roles of engineering firms with smart water vendors and their business models was also a hot topic.
Advanced Asset Management Strategies are changing utility strategies. This year, there was an entire conference track dedicated to Asset Management, including everything from planning to innovation to condition assessment. By employing advanced asset management strategies, utilities can save upwards of 20% on capital expenditures, while improving operation efficiencies. From strategic platforms to SCADA, a diverse set of companies are positioning to tackle a variety of utility pain points. It is not news that utilities are not traditionally known for being change agents, in fact, their inertia– some of which is justified– represents the biggest hurdle for vendors.
Trenchless technologies have the ability to disrupt the U.S. municipal pipe market. Trenchless companies including Hammerhead, Thomson Pipe Group and rePipe were seen throughout the conference. Trenchless technologies, including new materials and solutions, offer alternative options for pipe placement and rehabilitation that will be increasingly in demand as networks age faster than replacement. No longer a niche segment, the trenchless market has the potential to disrupt the pipe industry. Cost, speed and environmental impact help providers of trenchless technologies, make a case for their product. This will have a major impact on sewer line replacements, pipe repair and leakage management.
All of these issues are related: How do we manage our aging water infrastructure going forward and what are the technologies and solutions to help us do so?
The importance of critical insights will only increase as the water market welcomes this change. Companies recognize that business models and the competitive landscape for water are shifting. Those that are able to stay ahead of the curve on the latest trends, opportunities, and market strategies will be the most successful.