UK water companies are working together to establish standard industry products to shift the sector further into industrialisation and offsite manufacture.
Across the water industry, and even within individual companies and work programmes, it is normal to have multiple designs for assets that perform the same basic functions.
“At the moment, for example, we have six different examples of pumping stations, and they are relatively simple assets. What we are trying to do as a group is develop a single water industry standard,” said Yorkshire Water manager of standard products and solutions Steve Wright, speaking at the Mott MacDonald/Build Offsite Next Generation Infrastructure event at the ICE last week.
Members of industry body Buildoffsite’s Water Hub are collaborating to develop a single water industry standard for a range of products, some of which will be available for the AMP7 asset management period which starts in 2020.
The companies in the Water Hub are Anglian Water, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, Scottish Water, Northumbrian Water and Severn Trent Water.
“Water companies don’t typically collaborate like this. It’s not easy, but the potential gains are huge,” said United Utilities design for manufacture and assembly programme lead John Browne.
“Our aim is to save 40 to 50% on development spending using, for example, prefabrication and more standardised products.”
In parallel with the Water Hub initiative, Anglian Water and Yorkshire Water are working together on a number of standard products to be shared by both businesses over the next year or so. The two are just starting the process but the long-term aim is to develop a full shared catalogue.
Anglian Water has been one of the industry leaders in efficiency for the last decade. “We have been developing standard products for nine years,” explained the company’s product based delivery manager Lindsey Taylor. “They are more reliable, easy to install, manufacturers know how to make them and that all means less risk.
“We have also seen how standard products help drive culture change so we can move from traditional design and construction to assembly and integration.”
However, Taylor added that at the moment in the water sector, all the companies have slightly different products; there is no industry wide standard. “So we can’t drive the unit costs down exponentially,” she said.
That is the driver for the new work being led by Anglian and Yorkshire, explained Wright.
“We are right at the start of the process and are trying to share one of our standard products to see what, if any, are the benefits. We’ll collaborate to deliver a standard product for both companies. Then we can move on to develop a Water Hub product catalogue,” he said.