Monitoring technology to assess the condition of shut-off valves even more accurately

Device for the maintenance of shut-off valves in use, product photo: 3S Antriebe GmbH

The maintenance and servicing of infrastructure elements in the water industry (asset management) includes the condition assessment of shut-off valves that are used in the drinking water distribution network to control the flow of water. These can be used to separate pipe sections for locating leaks, maintenance measures, construction work or accidents. The project aims to develop a mobile gate valve turning device equipped with an acoustic sensor that enables the digital recording of the torque as well as acoustic signals in order to derive information about condition and tightness.

Shut-off valves are used to control the flow of water in supply networks. This allows line sections to be separated, e.g. for locating leaks, maintenance measures, construction work or in the event of accidents. In order to ensure reliable functioning of the valves (mobility, tightness), regular maintenance must be carried out. Otherwise, limited functionality may result from deposits, mechanical defects and material wear.

The maintenance of shut-off valves already includes their regular operation. For this purpose, mobile gate valve turning devices have been increasingly used in recent years. These offer the advantage of operating larger valves with less manpower as well as recording the torque and position of the valve. The latter provides the basis for an objective assessment of the valve's condition.

For water suppliers, it is of great importance to know not only the position of the valve but also its tightness when closed. Since this is not possible on the basis of torque data alone, an acoustic sensor is to be added to a gate valve turning device from the company 3S Antriebe as part of the project in order to be able to record flow noises, for example. Both the torque data and the acoustic data are to be converted into usable information for the water supplier as part of the project.

For the development and testing of the prototype, the tasks are divided according to the core competences of 3S Antriebe GmbH (3SA) and TZW. 3SA is responsible for the design and construction of the prototype and all the necessary work steps. TZW develops an evaluation approach for recognising patterns both in the acoustic data and in the data of the number of gears and the torque, since corresponding competences in the area of pattern recognition, machine learning as well as special data analysis are available here due to the processing of several research and contract work in the past 10 years. Within the framework of the research project, various methods from the field of audio and spectroscopy will be applied and tested with regard to their suitability. In addition, the various development stages of the device will be tested on TZW’s test stand and model network under practical conditions.

Link to project partner 3S Antriebe
Link to project page