Time, Cost and Quality: Improving Severn Trent’s buried assets Location Accuracy Standards


Severn Trent is one of Britain’s largest water companies, providing clean drinking water to over eight million people every day. The company operates across the Midlands, from the outskirts of Sheffield, down to Bristol, and into north and mid-Wales.

Following Severn Trent’s transition to outsourcing mainlaying to smaller contractors with the surveying of As Laid drawings being done in-house, the water provider saw the potential to improve location data accuracy and efficiently using GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) technology.

With data crucial to providing increasing service quality for its customers, Severn Trent identified the need for this enhanced businesses capability, which would provide accurate data recordings. This need was two-fold. Firstly, Severn Trent required accurate location and other data on fittings when laying and renewing water mains. Secondly, they wished to measure reinstatement details, which are important to the maintenance of highways.

MGISS was identified as the optimum service provider by Severn Trent’s Steve Allen as they had already worked with some of the previous contract resources. As Severn Trent’s Clean Water Infrastructure Design Manager, Anil Patel, described it, “There was a need and an appetite within Severn Trent to enable that data capture using MGISS solutions”

“MGISS is not just a hardware supplier, they are domain experts in positioning” – Steve Allen, Systems Owner at Severn Trent

"Having this data correct in the first place is going to save us time and money."

MGISS’ first solution was to replace Severn Trent’s use of steel tape measures for triangulation and offset measurements with GNSS technology to ensure enhanced accuracy.

The integration of GNSS software helped speed up Severn Trent’s surveying operations while improving the accuracy of their recorded data. As Martin Oliver, Severn Trent’s Lead Project Manager for Clean Water, summarises “It’s the speed needed to operate the business. We understand our network better. Unfortunately, it used to take 80 days from a main being laid to it going onto our records. With GNSS we can do it live.”

Steve sees the integration of GNSS technology as having three main benefits to Severn Trent: time, cost and quality. In regard to cost, GNSS will lead to the reduction of “doubling-handling” of data within Severn Trent, saving time and money in the process. While the technology improves quality by offering accuracy to within 100mm, a significant improvement to the 300mm standard required using tape measures, which was actually difficult to achieve safely using long tape measures when working on the highway.

“I think we should be able to demonstrate what a big step we’ve made.” – Martin Oliver, Lead Project Manager at Severn Trent

Severn Trent’s concurrent implementation of z-values (elevation as mAOD) has offered further improvements. This enables them to calculate the exact depth of the main, reducing the time it takes to find their assets when excavating in the future to undertake repair and maintenance activities – and the accurate elevation readings help to ensure that adequate water pressure is delivered to customers.

As Anil suggests, this was a big part of defining the business case, “This is something we’ve never had before. We’ve never had the exact recorded depth. So having that is very valuable. This degree of accuracy reduces the amount of time it takes to find our assets. So that was a big part of the pitch to the business, that having this data correct in the first place is going to save us time and money.”

Anil also believes the impact of the technology on Severn Trent will only grow over time, “the more we use it, the longer we have it, the better the data’s going to get.”

Further benefits of the technology on Severn Trent’s operation are also becoming evident. This includes the ability to survey open trenches and for the design team to receive photos of issues faced in the field and adapt in real-time. A far easier and quicker solution than relying on written reports. Laura Boagey, GIS Systems Consultant in Severn Trent, already had considerable experience configuring data collection apps on mobile phones and says “this brings another level of accuracy to that data”

“Having this data correct in the first place is going to save us time and money.” – Anil Patel, Clean Water Infrastructure Design Manager at Severn Trent

To empower Severn Trent’s adoption of the technology, MGISS played an active role in its integration at every level of the organisation. Including the provision of carefully planned onboarding sessions, access to ongoing support and the implementation of departmental training.

By hosting separate training sessions for both direct users and those indirectly impacted by the new hardware, MGISS was able to strengthen Severn Trent’s approach to internal adoption.

As Anil notes, “users were really accepting of it, we did think we would get more pushback as we were changing a well-established process. But the fact we did a joint training session with MGISS and the fact we trialled the software and ironed out the bugs beforehand helped massively.”

Severn Trent’s next step is the integration of the new equipment to ensure better accuracy when surveying water service pipes to individual properties. While not required to record this data, Severn Trent’s desire to continually improve their service is prompting them to trial this solution as part of their “Green Recovery” initiative when replacing Lead Services. MGISS is delighted to be supporting them in this endeavour and looks forward to continuing to support Severn Trent’s drive for service excellence.


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