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Free-Flowing Digital Migration for Thames Water

One of the companies tasked with meeting this unquenchable demand is Thames Water. The largest utility in the UK, it serves more than 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley region. "Our closest customer is three minutes away," says Richard Hulley operations liaison engineer, as we are taken on a tour of the company's Walton site.

The Walton works are a critical part of the London water supply network. A pumping station was built in 1898 to serve the various reservoirs and filter beds in the vicinity. In 1926, the site was expanded with the opening of the original water treatment works (WTW) - these were upgraded in 1995 to the Advanced Water Treatment (AWT) technique.

Today, Walton AWT treats between 80 million and 100 million litres of water per day, and is one of five AWTWs on the Thames Water ring main, ensuring that the ever-increasing demand for high quality drinking water is met.

Our solution

Following discussions with the utility and evaluating site needs, Chatterbox identified an opportunity to improve the existing three device system, and initiated a migration from analogue to digital based on X1p hand-portables from Hytera.

Replacing the analogue system, the new DMR solution fills in the previous coverage gaps, providing 100 per cent coverage on the site, even in 'the crypt' and areas where traditional communications systems could negatively influence alarm systems.

In Walton's complex and hazardous environment, the X1p handsets are delivering other benefits, namely in lone worker safety.

Walton AWTW is a key site for Thames Water and health and safety is taken as a priority, as Hulley explains. "The site is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We have lone workers, and workers on stand-by (out of hours), who come and work, by the nature of the environment, in conditions where they cannot readily be seen. It is key that the company ensures all workers are well looked after."

With its blend of old and new, some listed buildings and new AWT processes, Walton's infrastructure presents a wide range of physical and chemical hazards for workers. There are areas of deep, fast flowing water, and as Hulley adds: "Lots of high voltage, lots of water tanks - numerous areas where mobile phones don't work, and communications are difficult. It is imperative to cover these areas as well as high risk areas where traditional radio systems would set off alarms."

Because of such risks, the selected X1p is a rugged IP67 compliant handset that provides the much needed blanket coverage and safety through the integration of a third-party app - a localisation system.

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