Digitalisation powering global water sector, study finds
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global water sector is ripe for a digital transformation, Frost & Sullivan reveals in a recent report.
According to recent analysis Digitalisation Powering the Global Water Market, 2020, a digital transformation of the sector is likely to accelerate in light of the pandemic, which has adversely impacted the growth of the water market globally thanks to widespread supply chain disruptions and a labour shortage during lockdowns.
While the municipal water and wastewater market has shown the highest resilience due to support packages from governments, the hydration treatment systems market has been the worst affected in the water market.
The global water market was projected to reach US$1,014.54 billion in 2020, thereby registering a growth of 7%, but instead has witnessed a decline to US$805.31 billion in 2020, down from US$947.89 in 2019.
AI-based platforms to help sector rebound
The report finds that smart sensors with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and ML-based data analytics platforms are already on the rise in the sector due to the fact that they require minimal maintenance or human interference.
“The water market could witness more high-level consolidation of data analytics platforms in the water sector,” states Paul Hudson, Energy & Environment Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Hudson points to narrowband Internet of Things (NB IoT) and long-term evolution for machines (LTE-M), cellular communication technologies that could become key enablers of growth penetration and digital transformation.
Accoridng to the report, smart decentralised water and wastewater treatment solutions are already disrupting the market significantly with low OPEX and holistic economic sustainability becoming key drivers that enable the growth of decentralised treatment systems.
“Value-add services and solutions such as decision and predictive intelligence, along with a smart product line and effectively leveraging ecommerce platforms could improve customer relationships and increase loyalty,” states Hudson, adding that such features “have gained precedence due to the pandemic”.
Sector areas ripe for growth
Furthermore, the report highlights the areas of growth that leaders in the global water sector can focus on in 2021 to fuel growth.
- Hydration treatment systems market In order to cater to price-conscious customers, smart hydration treatment systems and solutions’ providers could offer the filter-as-a-service business model. To enhance brand loyalty, hydration treatment systems providers could boost their product line with a value-add such as flavour and mineral packs.
- Municipal and industrial water and wastewater treatment systems market Market participants must embrace smart operations and AI-based virtual assistance platforms as these can significantly reduce the OPEX cost of a treatment plant.
- Irrigation systems and solutions market Smart irrigation solution providers should invest in research and development or M&A to provide holistic smart irrigation solutions.
- Bottled water hydration market Leading brands are introducing recycled PET bottles to reduce plastic waste generation, while startups are experimenting with degradable plastics and paper-based bottles. Products with sustainable packaging will be in high demand.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.