Dug up streets, hordes of workers, routes being closed for traffic, all these are frequent occurrences in towns in Serbia when there are works being done on the water supply and sewerage networks. A lack of information about the location and the condition of the pipes often complicates and prolongs the works.
One answer to how the operations of utility enterprises can be upgraded and improved is given by the German company BARTHAUER with their software meant, for the time being, for companies in the sector of water supply and sewerage.
Malte Martin, the international sales manager of Barthauer which has enabled free usage of this piece of software by companies until 2021, explains how the software works, whether it can be applied to other areas, what its benefits and advantages are and how it could help solve some problems that Serbian utility enterprises have had to deal with for decades now, considering the state of the water pipes in Serbia.
eKapija: At the recently held workshop in Belgrade, for the third time in a row, BaSYS Workshop, the ceremonial signing ceremony of the Agreement on Continuing Cooperation between BARTHAUER Company and Public Utility Pilot Companies - as part of the DeveloPPP project also took place. Can you tell us more about this project?
– The general goal of this DeveloPPP project is to enable interested water supply and sewerage companies in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro to implement a professional system for the management of network infrastructural systems through the BaSYS software solution and to provide medium-term support to companies in these fields in reaching European standards and increasing company efficiency.
Also, the program aims to raise awareness of the correct usage of data within utility enterprises, because, according to my experience so far, whether in Germany, Europe, or in the Middle East, the advantages of data management are often not used by utility enterprises.
I have to say that this project was started in the countries of the Western Balkans in the period from 2016 till 2018. The project was co-financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Barthauer Software GmbH, and the project was realized with the support of DEG KfW, a subsidiary of the German development bank KfW.
eKapija: What does the BaSYS software bring, what are the features and benefits of this software solution?
– Firstly, one advantage of this software is a centralized database, which means that all information and data can be found in a single place, such as where the pipes are located, how long they are, how old they are, what the problem is etc. The BaSYS system allows you to follow the entire process of managing the network and the facilities through all the steps: from the design to the processing of the existing networks, facilities and technical data, through their technical analysis, checking and assessment of reliability, a dynamic calculation, to the construction and the supervision in the process of the construction of the network, the optimization, inspection, and treatment. Furthermore, the BaSYS software also offers modules for controlling and maintaining the devices, as well as for managing the property, work orders and network maintenance.
eKapija: One of the goals of this project and the software is to achieve European standards and increase the efficiency of the company. How would companies using this software achieve greater efficiency?
– Everything starts at the basic level. Many utility enterprises, even in Germany, don't know where certain pipes are located. There's also a lack of information about the material, the length and the general state of a water pipe. In order for the system to function, you need to monitor it and have all the necessary information. This way, you avoid sending teams to wrong places and save time.
eKapija: What are the biggest problems of our companies in the field of water supply and sewerage?
– What's not considered here is the lack of awareness of the importance of this system. If there's a hole in a road, everyone sees it right away and they complain, but when it comes to water and sewerage pipes, no one pays attention until there's collateral damage of some sort.
Also, in Germany, for example, there are certain standards of data collection, and Serbia doesn't have such standards. There are plenty of utility enterprises that truly want to progress and do a good job, but there is a lot of potential for improvements
eKapija: It is known that water supply systems in Serbia have an obvious problem of water loss in the network. Do you offer a solution to detect the places where such problems arise?
– The water loss detection needs to have a thorough, clear approach, and our system can be a part of the solution. In order to detect the exact source of the problem, you need to have all the information, pointing to the exact location, instead of sending teams where you believe a pipe has burst, but not being sure, leading you to dig up half the city.
eKapija: At this workshop, the companies represented in the pilot program were (Pilot public utility companies for water supply and sewerage: ViK Bijeljina, ViK Gračanica, ViK Tuzla and ViK Velika Kladuša (Bosnia and Herzegovina), ViK Subotica (Serbia) and Regional Water Supply System of the Montenegrin Coast (Budva, Montenegro).) What were the experiences of companies that had the opportunity to try this software solution?
– I believe that they are very satisfied, because we do not offer only software, but the entire package, as well as technical support and consulting services, which enables them to start working right away. The software is free to use until 2021, and only the consulting services and the technical support are charged for. In cooperation with our local partners - company JIE engineering and the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Belgrade, I believe we have an excellent team. I also need to mention Aleksandar Krstic, a benchmark coordinator, who is connected to all the companies in a pilot project.
eKapija: Are there now more interested companies?
– That is the reason for organizing the workshop. The first day was dedicated to the upgrade of knowledge and the exchange of experiences between our existing pilot companies, whereas, on the second day, we talked with new interested companies in order to explain to them how the software works and present them with the advantages and the benefits of this software solution.
eKapija: Could this software be used in some other fields, or is it only in this sector so far?
– The system is applicable in road management, the gas pipeline network and the cable network as well. It can also be used for the forest cadaster. If, for example, you want to know where a tree is, whether it's still healthy or should be cut down, the software can make it easier for you. It is, then, applicable to any infrastructure which has the right attributes for it.
eKapija: What are the future plans of your company, in this sector, in general, for Serbia and the region - B&H, Montenegro etc.?
– The plan, of course, is to expand the market. What we want to do is to maintain the cooperation with the companies we are already working with and to develop the use of software in other utility enterprises. We also hope that, in the meantime, Serbia will implement data management standards, as it's very helpful to have a framework you know you can operate within.