Rand Water/Stellenbosch University new digital twin pump test lab
On 3 December 2020 seven delegates from Rand Water were received in the brand new building of the Department of Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering to scope the requirements for their new innovation hub. Newly appointed Rand Water Research Chair – Mechanical Engineering, Professor Annie Bekker hosted this visit with tremendous support from the Faculty. First, the dean, Prof Wikus van Niekerk welcomed the delegation. Mr. Mogan Padayachee, who is the Manager of Innovation and Technology at Rand Water, introduced his delegation and stated their aims to understand the facilities and capabilities of Engineering at Stellenbosch University. The Departmental head of Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering, Prof Kristiaan Schreve followed with an overview, which subsequently showcased its extensive laboratories with enthused efforts of staff and students. After interactive discussion the meeting proceeded to Process Engineering where Department Head, Prof Andre Burger hosted a discussion on the extensive water-related activities, also followed by a laboratory tour. The day ended with closing comments by the vice-dean of research, Prof Petrie Meyer in the relaxing surroundings of Oude Werf Restaurant.
Rand Water, established in 2001, is a ‘not for profit’ SOE with its profits being reinvested in the company’s infrastructure and development. The South African Constitution stipulates that everyone has the right to have access to sufficient water. Our drinking water originates from two sources, surface water (rainfall and its runoff into rivers or dams), or groundwater (water that has collected in underground stores or aquifers). Rand Water provides potable water to metropolitan and local municipalities, industry and mining in Gauteng, and parts of Mpumalanga, the Free State, and North West provinces. Rand Water has water network of 3,056 km of pipelines, 58 reservoirs, supplying 3 653 million litres of water daily to its varied customers.
Professor Bekker has committed to working with Rand Water to train engineers and establish research expertise in digitization and mechanical water asset management, to develop solutions for the improved management of pump plants and leak detection through the use of digital twins and to develop strategic partnerships with industry. She hopes to leverage the expertise and vast networks of Stellenbosch University Water Institute and the new Fraunhofer Strategic Platform.
A digital twin pump test laboratory will be established at Stellenbosch University in collaboration with Dr Karel Kruger and Prof Johan van der Spuy to create a platform for the systematic evaluation of digital twin solutions towards detection, diagnostics and prognosis of water network failures. Annie Bekker, a Stellenbosch University graduate started lecturing in the Mechanical and Mechatronic department since July 2011 after a short stint in Industry where she worked on the Joule electric vehicle.
We never know the worth of water till the well is dry – An African proverb