Water leaks can cost building owners big money, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Just one leaking toilet can cost up to $2,100 a year, and a broken distribution line — leaking up to 648,000 gallons during a 12-month period — can add as much as $64,000 to a water bill.
Artificial intelligence, however, could fix those potentially expensive problems and has aided in the development of leak detection technology like that offered by WINT, shorthand for Water Intelligence.
The WINT system, said Yaron Dycian, the company's chief product and strategy officer, addresses several common water-related leak and waste problems that building owners and construction companies encounter:
- Identifying the sources of water waste
- Identifying inefficiencies
- Delivering information in a way that is useful and gives staff the tools to quickly and effectively resolve issues
- Pinpointing hidden leaks in locations such as under ground, in cooling towers and in irrigation systems
- Tracking water efficiency over time
The WINT system, Dycian said, addresses all of these issues. "Our solution helps our customers prevent damage from leaks and reduces water consumption," he said. "Leaks behind walls or in little-used rooms can go undetected for weeks, resulting in untold damage and cost — not to mention major leaks and damage during construction."
WINT units are installed in pipes throughout a facility or on a construction site. The devices link to WINT’s computer system via a cellular connection, but the units remain operational even if communication with the cellular network is cut off.
After initial baselines for water use are established, the system analyzes water usage in real-time. When WINT detects flow irregularities it determines to be leaks, it sends alerts to the building maintenance or construction project staff’s smartphones with the location of the problem. The WINT units can also be programed to act as automatic shutoff valves.
In addition, WINT also provides reporting tools that track water usage and identify sources of waste. The reports are detailed enough so that it is possible to determine the exact location of a leak, such as a leaky toilet on a specific floor. "This allows busy staff members to quickly and effectively resolve issues, even when the leaks are hidden and difficult to identify," Dycian said.
When the Tidhar Group, a construction company and operator of commercial real estate in Israel and abroad, was recording an excessive amount of water relative to standard industry metrics, it chose WINT to track water use. Tidhar was concerned about damage from water leaks after a multimillion-dollar damage incident at one of its properties, as well as the potential for water damage at one or more of its construction sites.
In the first three months after installing WINT systems at its commercial properties, the technology identified and helped the company resolve multiple sources of water leaks, reducing water waste by up to 27%, according to Tidhar Chairman Gil Geva. WINT also made it possible for Tidhar to detect and eliminate water leaks at the 40 construction sites at which the system was installed before the water had a chance to damage surrounding work.
"Water damage is a significant challenge on construction sites," said Geva. "At Tidhar, we're always looking for the best technologies to create operational excellence, and water leaks required such a solution. This is a fantastic outcome that has helped us reduce costs and meet our project timelines."