Rockwell Automation delivers AI for industry-leading wastewater trial by Severn Trent and partners

MILWAUKEE, – Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation and digital transformation, today announced that it is working closely with one of the UK’s largest water companies Severn Trent and their partners, providing artificial intelligence (AI) to automate and monitor entire waste catchments in the UK. This is part of an industry-first trial launched in Derbyshire, Alfreton, which is trialling the AI until 2025 and aims to run indefinitely. The AI technology will predict weather conditions, forecast maintenance, and control waste flow to better manage its sewage network.

The project is part of the Ofwat Innovation Fund, which aims to grow the water sector’s capacity to innovate, enabling it to better meet the evolving needs of customers, society and the environment. Through this project, the delivery team will be developing a tried-and-tested blueprint for how this approach can be scaled across the UK.

The innovative AI technology will allow Severn Trent’s network to operate more efficiently and predict and prevent issues before they occur – meaning fewer overflow activations, and better management of its network in storm conditions.

Rich Walwyn, head of asset intelligence & innovation at Severn Trent, says: “This project has the potential to revolutionize how we manage our waste networks in the future, and it’s truly exciting that innovation and technology are at the heart of it.”

The AI technology can forecast and get the network in prime condition. For instance, when heavy rain is predicted, the network will automatically optimize storage ready for the extra flow and divert water away from overflows and hot spots, reducing the risk of flooding and pollution for customers. The technology will be deployed on Severn Trent’s pumping stations, which will operate independently, using forecasting and real-time monitors. 

Walwyn continues: “This means our customers and environment are more protected, and we can better control the flow of the extra rainfall to the treatment works. The AI technology will help the network be forward thinking and prepare itself in the event of storm conditions.”

Alongside Rockwell Automation, Severn Trent has collaborated with fellow utilities Southern Water, Thames Water — as well as global innovators at Blackburn Starling, BT, 8power and the University of Exeter.

Phil Hadfield, business director, UK, at Rockwell Automation, says: “We are providing access and collaboration with specialist teams in the areas of network and cybersecurity, AI, and machine learning applications — along with our domain expertise within the information technology/operational technology (IT/OT) layer to bring about scalable solutions for all disciplines of the water industry.”

Rockwell Automation’s specialists will work with Severn Trent to define the best vendor-agnostic technologies and solutions; leveraging the considerable expertise gained across many different verticals to help develop a solution that delivers a real-world application.

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