How Northumbrian Water Improved Blockage and Sewer Flooding Performance with VAPAR's AI Platform

About Northumbrian Water Group

Northumbrian Water Group (NWG) is a leading UK water utility company that provides water and wastewater services to over 2.7 million customers in the Northeast of England. Managing an extensive network of almost 30,000 kilometres (almost 19,000 miles) of wastewater pipes, the company is dedicated to continuing to improve its customer service and environmental performance. Innovation is a core company value and NWG aspires to be at the forefront of the industry.  

This case study goes through how Northumbrian Water used VAPAR’s AI platform to enhance blockage and sewer flooding performance. 

Northumbrian Water AI sewer inspections

Project Snapshot

A cost-benefit business case was approved by the Northumbrian Water Group (NWGexecutive team for the resources needed to implement VAPAR AI’s platform to improve blockage and sewer flooding performance on the wastewater network.  

  • 4,900 blockage related inspections completed by Northumbrian Water’s team. 
  • 3,500 Follow-on work jobs completed over approximately 1,800 locations within the network, with investment targeting powered by VAPAR’s AI platform.  
  • Northumbrian Water achieved a 9% and 8% improvement in blockages and external flooding respectively between 2023 and 2024. A significant fraction of which was due to VAPAR AI use. 

How Northumbrian Water used VAPAR's AI sewer inspection platform to enhance sewer network performance

Key activities in managing a wastewater network the size of Northumbrian Water’s involves addressing issues like sewer flooding, blockages, and infrastructure aging in a way that mitigates impacts to customers and the environment. To do this Northumbrian Water evaluated several innovative suppliers to assist with their blockage reduction program in a new way, and selected VAPAR’s AI-powered platform to embed in their workflow. The aim of the platform’s implementation was to balance the need for timely maintenance and upgrades with asset health and regulatory compliance.  This was done by using VAPAR’s AI technology to automatically review sewer inspection videos for NWG experts to review and make decisions on.  

“VAPAR’s AI is more accurate, easy to use, the dashboard has good functionality, and the speed of upload was faster compared to others we tested”

A cost-benefit business case was presented and approved by the NWG executive team, outlining the resources required to implement VAPAR’s platform.

Some of the key considerations included in implementation were as follows:   

  • Resource Allocation: Additional review resources were made available for the business process change. These resources learned and used VAPAR’s platform to triage inspections efficiently and effectively. This ensured Northumbrian Water’s team was fully equipped to maximise the benefits of the new technology. 
  • Inspection Completion: Inspections are crucial in identifying problem areas and assessing the condition of Northumbrian Water’s sewer pipes. These inspections were recorded with no coding taking place on-site so that site productivity remained high, and then uploaded directly to VAPAR’s platform. Over 4,900 blockage related inspections were completed as part of the program.
  • Follow-On Work Execution: Based on the insights provided by VAPAR’s AI platform, Northumbrian Water completed 3,500 follow-on work tasks at approximately 1,800 locations. The AI-driven data insights and prioritisation allowed Northumbrian Water to target their investment and resources more effectively, addressing the most critical issues promptly. 

Result on AI-powered implementation

The implementation of VAPAR’s platform contributed to improvements in Northumbrian Water’s blockage and sewer flooding performance 

  • Operational performance: a 9% and 8% improvement in blockages and external flooding respectively between 2023 and 2024.
  • Enhanced Decision-Making: The AI-powered insights from VAPAR’s platform enabled NWG to make more informed decisions regarding maintenance and investment, ensuring NWG efforts were focused on the areas with the greatest need.
  • Operational Efficiency: The platform streamlined Northumbrian Water’s inspection and follow-on work processes, allowing for quicker response times and more investment allocation.

"Footage coming through quicker so we can raise repair works faster"

Next Steps

The adoption of VAPAR’s AI platform has proven to be a transformative step for Northumbrian Water in managing their wastewater network. By leveraging AI technology, Northumbrian’s team were able to improve their operational performance and enhance decision-making. The Northumbrian team are in the process of rolling VAPAR’s platform out to other areas of the business to leverage the AI technology on other use cases to help their team find opportunities for further improvements 

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