Sabesp wants to automate all sanitation in SP by 2030 – 09/18/2023 – Market

Sabesp wants to automate all sanitation in SP by 2030 – 09/18/2023 – Market

Sabesp is about to complete a pilot project that will serve as a reference for the technological shift it intends to make across its entire operation. By 2030, the company wants to automate the entire sanitation cycle in the 375 municipalities where it operates, and the model to be followed comes from Morungaba, which is 100 kilometers from the capital of São Paulo.

In 2021, the city of just over 13 thousand inhabitants began implementing a system that combines artificial intelligence and the internet of things (a term that refers to objects that are connected and capable of exchanging information). As a result, processes that were previously manual have become automated and, today, almost the entire operation is carried out remotely.

“In 2024, Morungaba will be the first municipality in which Sabesp will reach 100% automation”, says Roberval Tavares de Souza, the company’s operations director.

The basic sanitation cycle usually includes the following steps: first, water is collected from a river and taken to an ETA (Water Treatment Station), which carries out the filtering process and adapts it to the parameters required for human consumption.

The water is then pumped to the reservoirs. From there, the distribution systems come out, serving the city’s homes, businesses and properties. After consumption, the water becomes sewage and, through the collection system, is sent to an ETE (Sewage Treatment Station) to be returned to the environment.

Nowadays, most of the steps in this cycle are done manually. When a leak occurs in a Sabesp line, for example, it is necessary to close the valve to stop the problem and carry out the repair — similar to what happens in a house.

To do this, a professional needs to go to the location with a specific tool. But not in Morungaba. “We are transforming the operating key into a button that I press and the valve closes,” explains Souza.

Another example of automation is in ETAs. In these treatment plants, several parameters that affect water quality are analyzed, such as chlorine, turbidity, PH and fluoride.

In the conventional process, Sabesp needs to keep employees working 24 hours a day to control these indicators. “Go [alguém] With a small bucket, he collects the water, takes it to the laboratory and performs chemical analysis. Every day, every hour.”

In the automated system it is different. On a very rainy day, for example, the turbidity parameter — which indicates the amount of particles in the water — worsens. The sensors installed in the treatment plant equipment detect this change and send an action to the dosing pump to increase the product, which accelerates coagulation and makes these particles settle.

In technical jargon, the technological operation — also called sanitation 4.0 — works with the help of IoT devices (internet of things, in English), which provide information about the stages of the process through sensors. Artificial intelligence helps in decision making.

This is because the collected data is compared with pre-established parameters or historical information. High consumption during the night, for example, is out of the norm and could indicate a leak. In cases where something goes out of the ordinary, the system issues alerts.

“With automation, the decision speed is a thousand times faster. I achieve greater operational efficiency and lower costs for the company, which reflects on the customer. As our tariff is affordable, what I can gain in efficiency is transferred to the customers “, says Souza.

Automation also makes it possible to identify internal leaks in the consumer’s home. One of the stages of the project involves replacing all of the city’s water meters with equipment capable of transmitting data to the operation center.

This way, consumption can be checked in real time, preventing fraud and alerting you to possible problems.

Souza says that, today, a leak is only discovered 30 days later, when Sabesp stops by the property on the day of reading and delivers a bill with a higher value than normal.

“The entire Morungaba system leads to a very strong reduction in operating costs. In addition to the smaller number of operators required, the company saves money by reducing loss levels in the network”, he states. “I discover a leak [de forma] online, at the time it is happening”, he adds.

According to the director, around ten years ago, Sabesp began investing in automation, with the plan to reach 100% of the municipalities where it operates by 2030.

“We are talking about 12 million water meters, 70 thousand kilometers of water network and 60 thousand kilometers of sewage network”, he states.

According to Souza, there is no benchmarking for this project, which was born within Sabesp’s technical area. “Outside Brazil, you can find something in the United States, France and Germany, but I don’t know [um sistema] from end to end like this.”

Morungaba was chosen to host the pilot project because the entire population is already served with water supply and sewage collection. To date, R$4.8 million has been invested in the initiative. Another R$2.7 million will be allocated until completion in 2024.

Souza explains that one of the benefits of this technological turnaround is the gain in efficiency, which helps in the fight for market share.

“With the legal framework for sanitation, we need to compete for bids. Before, Sabesp was contracted directly. To be able to win over other municipalities, we need to be more efficient, because now the environment is competitive.”

Sabesp x-ray

Foundation: 1973

Net profit 2022: R$ 3.12 billion

Market value in 2022: R$32.9 billion

Employees: 12,299

Municipalities served: 375

Population served: 28.4 million

Competitors: Aegea, Iguá, BRK, GS Inima, Águas do Brasil

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