Case Study - Collaborative trial: Sewerbatt acoustic sensing technology

Case Study - Collaborative trial: Sewerbatt acoustic sensing technology

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Client/Location: 8 Australian water utilities, 2 locations around Australia

Project Duration: November 2012 – July 2013


In the same way that bats use sound to navigate and hunt in the dark, SewerBatt uses sound waves to gain information about the condition inside sewer pipes.

A SewerBatt survey unit comprises an acoustic sensor that is inserted into the pipe using an extendable light-weight pole. The signals being sent (and subsequently received) by the SewerBatt unit enables the sewer serviceability to be determined. This technology is now available commercially from Acoustic Sensing Technology (UK) Ltd (“AST”).

AST undertook a series of successful trials with a major Australian water utility in May 2012. Following this trial, they were invited to present at the Australian TAG forum in August 2012, during which they received a large amount of interest from the water utilities represented there. In November 2012, a collaborative trial with 8 water utilities commenced.

The objective of the collaborative trial was to prove the commercial benefits of using SewerBatt as a pre-screening method for sewer inspection. The outputs would enable water utilities in Australia to determine the best deployment strategy for the technology in order to help them proactively manage their sewers more efficiently than using CCTV alone.


When AST presented the SewerBatt technology to the Australian TAG group, the technology was in the early stages of commercialisation. It was identified as having the potential to disrupt the sewer inspection market; however the commercial benefits of using the new technology alongside CCTV had not yet been proven. The challenge for this project was to prove the technology’s commercial benefits and its general relevance to the Australian water utilities.

How we solved it

Following the TAG meeting where AST presented, we facilitated a project steering group of 8 Australian water utilities and identified two suitable locations for the technology to be trialled: 2.5km of sewer in the city of Perth and 4km in Tatura (a town 150km north of Melbourne). A comparison of survey results between SewerBatt and CCTV was undertaken, the costs were compared and the benefits quantified. A number of operational models were then evaluated based on the benefits quantified through the study.

The trials demonstrated that SewerBatt was found to have a 90% accuracy compared with CCTV, and that OPEX savings between 17% - 29% could be realised depending on the operational model adopted. In addition to the economic benefits, it was also determined that SewerBatt is much easier to operate

compared with CCTV. It was concluded that SewerBatt is a step-change in sewer survey technology to complement traditional CCTV inspection. A number of SewerBatt units have now been sold commercially to the Australian water utilities.