Leak detection systems (LDS)

State-of-the-art Leak detection systems (also referred to as LDS) are represented by complex software and hardware suites with a wide application range. In most cases, these systems are generally associated with petroleum industry, which is quite reasonable, since any leak at these facilities is dangerous both for personnel and environment, and leads to considerable financial expenditures.

These systems are equipped with modern transducers, while their software contains complex algorithms, allowing to process considerable data volumes in real-time mode, as well as to provide timely response to any situation, which may occur at the controlled facility.

Modern LDS is a technically sophisticated system, that is mostly designed individually based on customer’s requirements and technical features of a particular technological facility.

Nevertheless, it would be wrong to think that the application sphere of Leak detection systems (LDS) is restricted only to expensive and technologically sophisticated industrial facilities. Nowadays these technological solutions are often used for prevention of leakages and faults in municipal water supply systems.

Advantages of using LDS for solving these tasks are quite obvious since their implementation secures stable operation of water supply systems, maintains system’s hermeticity (and, hence, prevents contamination of water), and reduces inappropriate water consumption. Besides, implementation of these systems also allows to reduce the expenditures for unscheduled repair and maintenance activities, including the costs for the search of leakage location (which is also important, especially taking into consideration the size of water supply network and the fact that the pipelines are mostly located underground).

What are the advantages of LDS implementation?

Let us imagine that you are an owner of a manufacturing facility. Every day you send away several containers with products, one of which always turns out to be empty by the time it reaches the customer. In this case, you are sure to take some preventive measures. Unfortunately, this analogy is hardly applicable to leakages in water supply systems.

It is also difficult to attract public attention to the issue of leakages in water supply systems, since the losses, caused by leakages, generally remain unnoticed and are a quite common process for most of the managing companies.

However, it is still necessary to address the issue of leakages prevention, since such factors as cost reduction, environmental protection, healthcare, and financial losses are directly related to the leakages present in the water supply networks.

Timely prevention of leakages has the following advantages:

  • Reduction of water losses and corresponding expenditures;
  • Reduction of expenditures for power supply, work payment, procurement of chemicals necessary for purification, pumping, and transfer of water;
  • Lower carbon dioxide emissions attributed to smaller energy consumption;
  • There is no need to increase the capacity of water processing stations and water supply systems;
  • Elimination of problems related to urgent repair and unscheduled maintenance of water supply network;
  • Reduced risk of water sources contamination;
  • Lower possibility of further pipeline defects in the future.

Thus, the advantages of implementing Leak detection system (LDS) are quite obvious. However, before we start analyzing characteristics of the state-of-the-art LDS, let us consider several additional issues:

1) What standard methods for prevention/control of leakages are commonly used in modern water supply systems?

Nowadays the managing companies have a wide range of methods and technologies, allowing them to find and to prevent leaks:

  • Analog and electronic flowmeters;
  • Leak detection systems;
  • Valves maintenance;
  • Monitoring of system pressure;
  • Scheduled repair and renovation of system components;
  • Analysis of system operation at the night-time;
  • Emulation and monitoring of water distribution system operation.

2) Is it possible to eliminate all the existing leakages in a particular system?

Some of the leakages are not eliminated since they form a part of the system’s normal operation process. These leakages may be related to flushing of the system, performance of various tests and evaporation processes.

3) Is the implementation of Leak detection system (LDS) always reasonable from the financial point of view? 

It is necessary to understand that integration and maintenance of Leak detection system (LDS) imply certain financial expenditures, which (in the long-term prospect) tend to pay-off. However, in the case of minor leakages elimination at the early stage of the leak detection system integration, there is a certain contradiction: the cost of small and medium leaks elimination (which includes: the price of LDS, expenditures for its integration, personnel training and leaks elimination) exceeds the volume of financial losses attributed to the leaks themselves. Nevertheless, in the mid-term and long-term prospect, the expenditures for integration, operation, and maintenance of the LDS will eventually get regained.

Types of Leak detection systems and criteria of their efficiency evaluation

Depending on the particular task to be solved (leak detection of petroleum products, gas, water, toxic substances, industrial chemical agents, etc.) and the parameters of a particular technological facility, structural composition and scale of the Leak detection system (LDS) may considerably vary. In spite of the great number of modern leak detection systems, there are several common criteria of their operating efficiency evaluation:

  • Leak detection sensitivity;
  • Possibility of leak location detection;
  • Possibility of system parameters configuration in the course of its operation;
  • Availability of the system;
  • Percentage of false alarm notifications;
  • Technical maintenance requirements;
  • Price.

Unfortunately, neither of the currently available methods of leak detection has optimal characteristics for all the parameters. A common problem for most of the systems is the high level of false alarms notifications, which is quite undesirable since they lead to:

  • Necessity of additional works for the personnel;
  • Reduction of overall system reliability;
  • Failure in detecting a real leakage.

Even though the process of Leak detection system integration and operation may seem rather complicated, the necessity of LDS mass implementation is becoming quite obvious, since the world already faces the crisis of insufficient water supply, and the forecast for the next few years in terms of natural resources availability is also rather unnerving. An important factor, that influences the current situation, is the fact that the losses in water supply and distribution systems in some regions make up to 50% of the total water conditioning volume. It is difficult to understand such controversy since it is to deal with one of the most crucial natural resources. The necessity of wide integration of LDS systems is also emphasized by the number of water supply networks, which have constant service interruptions.