DetroitPartnering with DWSD & AECOM

$3.2 million
per annum savings

We worked in close partnership with DWSD and AECOM’s Detroit team, to trial how our Asset Investment Manager (AIM) 3.0 platform could support their Inflow and Infiltration I&I programme.

The Challenge

The majority of Detroit’s water and sewerage infrastructure has not been upgraded since 1930, many of the pipes are now over 80 years old. This has had a devastating impact on customers and the environment, with sewers flooding properties and leaking pollution into the environment. It has also resulted in legal action from customers and fines from environmental regulators, as well as reputational damage to the Detroit Water Sewerage Department (DWSD). In June 2019, DWSD announced it would invest US$500 million over the next five years to begin upgrading the 10,000km (6,000 miles) of water and sewage pipes, working in partnership with contractors AECOM.

One of the key issues for upgrading the city’s sewer systems is reducing inflow and infiltration (I&I) of the foul sewers. Exceeding the foul systems capacity was causing sewers to back up and resulting in sewage spilling into basements, homes and overflowing manholes in public areas. In addition to aging infrastructure, this situation has been further exacerbated by growing populations and more extreme weather patterns. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that inflow and infiltration currently cost cities in the United States around US$100 billion annually.

“Inflow and infiltration in sewer networks pose a significant risk for many of our municipal and utility clients. The good news is technology has moved on and by working closely with Probit Technologies and deploying their powerful modelling technology we were able to bring a new, proactive approach to bear on this age-old problem.”
Andy Gibson
Asset management lead, AECOM


The Solution

We worked in close partnership with DWSD and AECOM’s Detroit team, to trial how our Asset Investment Manager (AIM) 3.0 platform could support their Inflow and Infiltration I&I programme. AECOM were already familiar with AIM 3.0 technology, as the software had won an in-house innovation competition to identify the best way to model I&I using heavy-duty mathematical modelling.

Two Detroit neighbourhoods were chosen for a six-month trial of AIM 3.0 technology, Corktown and Midtown. AECOM has calculated that the trial could save DWSD over US$30 million, which translates to US$4 million (£3.2 million) savings on average per annum, over the next 20-years. DWSD has already asked AECOM to run a second trial using AIM 3.0, which will take place in a larger area and will consider the impact of I&I on combined sewer overflow (CSO) spills..

“Utilising AIM, we created optimised inflow and infiltration models to identify where sewer flooding is most likely to occur a cross a whole network, targeting areas for further inspection. Being able to anticipate where a repair or replacement is needed – or not needed – makes maintaining assets more effective, optimising investment and focusing resources precisely where they are required.”
Andy Gibson
Asset management lead, AECOM


Combining expertise to deliver the perfect solution

We combined DWSD and AECOM’s expertise, knowledge and data with our specialist decision analytics platform to deliver the information needed to avoid asset failures, extend asset life and optimise asset investment decisions. With AIM 3.0, AECOM were able to not only understand and respond to what is happening in the asset base now, but also predict and plan for future risks. We created Risk Maps across their network, which could be configured to support decision-making on strategic, tactical and operational expenditure. Allowing them to tailor work programmes to make the most of the limited resources available.

“We are incredibly proud that Probit’s AIM 3.0 software has been successfully deployed by AECOM as part of Detroit’s major sewer upgrade programme. The software is proving what can be achieved when it comes to proactively avoiding asset failures, extending asset life and making better asset investment and management decisions.”
Dr Tim Watson
Co-founder & chief strategy officer, Probit Consulting


How Probit Consulting delivered the project

AIM 3.0 worked by deploying powerful analytical capability to interpret dynamic relationships and optimise investment for specific operational requirements and performance targets over a given time horizon.

AIM 3.0 was used by AECOM to:

  • Measure the current health of assets and how they would perform over time
  • Identify which pipes to prioritise for renewal
  • Assess the relative benefit of each pipe renewal
  • Understand the likely cost
  • Coordinate the work so that it can be done in the most economical and timely way

AIM’s scenario builder allowed AECOM to ask questions, to assess the trade-off between risk, service and cost.

Typical questions might be:

  • If I do nothing, and just react, what will happen?
  • How much will it cost to maintain current performance?
  • What is the best level of service and least risk I can achieve with a limited budget?
  • If I replace assets based on the age, what will it cost?

All scenario results can be exported from AIM 3.0 at asset level, or any aggregated level, to give short- and long-term programmes of work, identifying cost-beneficial projects.

Empowering contractors to solve unique problems at scale

The flexibility and configurability of AIM 3.0 has enabled us to solve some very specific problems at scale. We are looking forward to working with AECOM in the future on more projects and exploring new opportunities to add value to their clients’ asset management operations.

“Decision analytics software like AIM 3.0 offers asset-intensive organisations the capability to make major investment decisions with much more accuracy, gaining more value from the underlying data and driving cost efficiency.”
Dr Tim Watson
Co-founder & chief strategy officer, Probit Consulting

Detroit sewerage realises major savings from an asset software upgrade

The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department worked with AECOM to deploy a Probit software solution as part of a major sewer upgrade programme. It enabled the utility to proactively avoid asset failures, extend asset life and making better asset investment and management decisions.

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