February 1, 2018

When water distribution systems go digital

Every day in Switzerland, we use on average 299 liters of water to drink or clean, or to wash ourselves. A distribution network of more than 53,000 kilometers brings this precious liquid on tap. However, this flow is often affected by leaks, which result in a significant loss of water – about 14% in fact.


Although it’s possible to detect these leaks, locating them with precision represents a real challenge, resulting in a lot of time spent and increased cost to the taxpayer. With the goal of finding a solution to this problem, the Swiss company Hinni has developed – in partnership with CSEM and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) – the third generation of the LORNO control system. Thanks to this solution, almost immediate and precise identification of the location of the leak is now possible.

Fire hydrants are the key

By measuring and relaying the required data, fire hydrants play a crucial role in this continuous leak control system. Each one is equipped with a hydrophone that captures and processes the signals and thus allows the precise monitoring of the flow of water. The collected data is then processed to check that there are no anomalies. To enable this step, it has to be synchronized to one-thousandth of a second – quite a challenge! As an essential part of this solution, CSEM has developed a dedicated wireless network, based on its WiseNET technology.

This highly secure network is capable of organizing itself to transfer information in an optimal and efficient way. The data is then correlated and analyzed using a specially designed software. If any problems arise, the responsible service automatically receives a notification by e-mail or SMS. The location of the leak is then easily identified, which dramatically reduces the cost of the intervention.