Working together for safe drinking water

Working together for safe drinking water



Traditionally, manually operated valves have been used for shutting off sections of the water supply network. The valves are normally operated by employees from the utility company, but in an emergency can be used by the fire service.

Unauthorized, often incorrect, use – for example, during roadworks – is also not unusual. This risks water wastage at best and drinking water contamination and infection at worst. The manual operation of valves is also a time-consuming process. When a large drinking water company in the Netherlands was searching for a system to remotely operate and monitor pipe valves, they approached ERIKS company and leading valve supplier Econosto, from which engineer Ronald Gerdes looked into the issue.

Ronald worked with the drinking water company and others to develop the ELOVAL valve, equipped with a module to monitor if the valve is closed or open, and how far open. Opening or closing triggers the module and the information is relayed to a central control room. With the underground location meaning no power supply for a switch, and difficulty sending data, the Long Range Radio (LoRa) network was utilized. This has ultra-low energy consumption, but a range of 2.5 - 15 km for exchanging occasional small amounts of simple data between objects and systems: such as “on/off” or “occupied/free”. Since there is no permanent Internet connection required, the battery that supplies the ELOVAL valve  can last up to 15 years.

This large amount of information enables advance warning of maintenance required and helps to minimize downtime and dangerous situations


This communication capability means the ELOVAL valve can register authorized and unauthorized operation, and record all changes in a database for a clear overview of valve status. This large amount of information also enables advance warning of any maintenance required (predictive maintenance) – helping to minimize disruption, downtime and dangerous situations.

An international telecommunications company is involved in connectivity for the project, and an enterprise application software specialist is coordinating the software implementation. Various disciplines within ERIKS have also been working together on the test installation: Econosto Capelle aan den IJssel, the ERIKS Group Head Office IT department, ERIKS Aandrijftechniek Schoonhoven for the electronics, and the ERIKS Industrial Plastics division for the plastic components.

The proof of concept has now been presented to the drinking water company and is ready for internal testing. If this is successful, the highly innovative system can be developed for use, and its advantages in terms of sustainability – including low energy consumption and greater public safety – can begin to benefit people worldwide.

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