Feb 19, 2021

Beyond Limits' AI app to detect utility leaks

AI
Utilities
leakages
Dominic Ellis
2 min
New AI app from Beyond Limits uses physics-based models and deep learning architectures to identify critical sensors and locate leaks
New AI app from Beyond Limits uses physics-based models and deep learning architectures to identify critical sensors and locate leaks...

Beyond Limits is to roll out an AI app for detecting leaks in utilities' water distribution networks.

The new product uses physics-based models and deep learning architectures to identify critical sensors and locate leaks, and recommend optimal location of pressure sensors for improved operations and maintenance capabilities.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated water utilities lost roughly $2.6 billion each year - although that research was in 2016. 

Current losses are expected to be even higher due to aging infrastructure, sub-optimal sensor placement and ineffective maintenance, making water loss monitoring, prevention, and remediation among the top financial and operational priorities for utilities providers. 

Many global utilities however lack the knowledge and resources to address these challenges.

"The acceleration of digital transformation efforts in the industrial sector has led to an exponential increase in the number of sensors generating massive amounts of data," said AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond Limits. 

"But this data is difficult to gather, manage, store and analyze. Beyond Limits’ new sensor selection application allows utilities providers to focus on the most valuable feedback data from their network, reducing the cost and complexity of intelligent systems while more effectively identifying which sensors are most valuable and immediately alerting users to anomalies like gas or water leaks or service disruptions."

The technology also offers a range of applications for managing and optimizing utilities operations, from power plants and electrical grids, to refineries and manufacturing sites. 

Currently, Beyond Limits’ sensor framework has been licensed to The Carnrite Group for deployment, and will initially be implemented in a multi-million dollar agreement with Xcell Security House and Finance S.A. for the company’s cognitive power plant.

Alan Carnrite, Founder & CEO of The Carnrite Group, said Beyond Limits’ sensor placement technologies will allow companies spanning the utilities, power and energy industries to operate more efficiently, optimally place sensors and more effectively detect leaks. "This is a perfect example of a technology solution that not only makes business sense but helps advance environmental sustainability goals," he said.

It's not just utilities facing challenges. The upstream oil and gas sector is constantly trying to optimise well deployments, especially when data on a region's geological properties is highly uncertain. 

In December, to overcome this problem, Beyond Limits announced it had developed a novel deep reinforcement learning (DRL) framework trained using NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs, capable of running 167,000 complex scenario simulations in 36 hours.  

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Jun 9, 2021

5 Mins With ... Sarah Smith, Head of Migrations at ENSEK

SaaS
Womenintechnology
Culture
Technology
Dominic Ellis
4 min
Sarah Smith, Head of Migrations at ENSEK, reflects on the transformation of the UK energy market and role of women in technology

What was it like when you started at ENSEK?
Four years ago, I had my first meeting with ENSEK. At the time, it was a small tech company in Nottingham that had recently started offering Software as a Service (SaaS) to new entrant energy suppliers. I was drawn by the opportunity to work with exciting new market entrants, whom I had heard much about, but not been able to work with. As a Management Consultant, I had spent my career supporting large retailers through customer service change programmes. I made the leap to technology and I love it.

How has the market changed since?
The energy market in the UK has gone through a huge transformation. The new entrants, who have survived, haven’t just shaken up the industry through innovative products and customer service - their reliance on SaaS providers, such as ENSEK, has shown how effective and efficient front and back-office functions can be. The biggest players in the UK and globally are looking to move to cloud-based SaaS providers to remain competitive. The last four years has kicked off a digital transformation across the UK energy sector, and it has been thrilling to be a part of that.

How do you encourage women to take up more tech roles? 
As ENSEK has grown, I have also been able to influence some of the decisions we have taken around inclusion. As a working parent, I am passionate about ensuring that the most talented remain in the workforce and are given opportunities to grow and further their careers, regardless of their backgrounds or caring commitments. We have improved our maternity policy and now have best-in-class packages for parents, and challenge our leadership to think about how to improve talent retention, flexibility for all staff, and how to remove unconscious bias from decision making. Culture is a key focus for us as we grow and operate remotely through COVID. 

Many businesses might still struggle with creating a supportive place of work for women, particularly mothers. There are tendencies, often unconscious ones, to put more pressure on women to do the ‘glue work’ and greater expectations regarding performance with a lack of understanding of potential family responsibilities. This is a particular concern for parents who are currently home-schooling. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that ‘flexibility’ doesn’t become another word for ‘burn-out’ as parents teach their children during the day and catch up through the night. All employers need to look for innovative solutions to maintain a happy, healthy workforce.

How do you think barriers can be overcome?
Supporting diversity of thought and approach, listening to opinions, ignoring how people look and sound, and paying attention to what they have to say is one way to start – businesses should recruit for ‘add’ rather than ‘fit’. This could be manifested by coaching and mentoring by leadership. These are great to offer all employees and, when done well, can work both ways as it helps leaders to understand the barriers and challenges faced by junior staff, particularly women and the BAME community. 

Furthermore, organisations need to offer shared parental leave and encourage all parents to take it – equality at work does not happen until there is equality at home. In addition, there needs to be increased support with back to work schemes for women in technology, who have taken time out to have children. The pace of change in technology is fast and even after a few years out, a return can seem daunting.

Does the pandemic offer a fresh start?
Many businesses and organisations could benefit from rethinking socials and networking events. Although it is in our best interest to meet with like-minded people and build better working relationships, many workers struggle to attend. Luckily, the recent mass move to largely digital communication can help leaders come up with more innovative ways to network virtually.

Although the discussion around women in tech has been on the agenda for a few years now, I believe there is still a lot we can all do to encourage more female leaders and employees. If we want to achieve truly diverse and excelling workforces, we have to embark on this challenging but satisfying journey.

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