Yaron Dycian, chief product and strategy officer at WINT-Water Intelligence, introduced his company’s cutting-edge water management technology during a GroundBreakers podcast earlier this year. In this Q&A, he provides more insights into how WINT’s technology works and how it can be put to use to protect construction projects.
Q: In the previous interview, you discussed the challenges associated with water leak damage on construction sites. Can you tell us more about the internal workings of the products and how the technology works to solve these issues?
A: The WINT product comprises a few components. There’s a water flow meter that would be connected to the kind of pipes that are found in any setting. That could be in a commercial building or in your home or at a construction site. There’s an electronic valve connected to the control unit, and the control unit tracks the water flow with extreme granularity, learning the normal usage patterns over time.
This is accomplished through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The solution incorporates a pre-built algorithm that can discern the difference between what’s normal and what’s an anomaly. When it detects an anomaly, it will send an alert to the appropriate person, whether a construction supervisor, a building manager or maintenance staff. It can even be configured to automatically turn the water off.
One of the big challenges in water leak mitigation is that there are many different water systems at the site. Each of them behaves differently and the detection algorithms need to be specialized to ensure effective detection. WINT has developed specialized algorithms for each type of water system, and the technology knows how to adapt itself to these different systems’ behaviors.
Another important aspect of the solution is its ability to help cut waste. It’s surprising how much water goes to waste in all types of properties, and the solution can help save water by identifying sources of loss and waste.
Q: Construction and operational facilities are very different. Can the technology address both?
A: Anyone who’s done more than a handful of projects is aware of the pain of water leaks on construction sites or in the facilities once they are finished and operational. In fact, we speak to most of the large construction companies in the US, UK and other countries, and they all say that “water is the new fire.”
On a jobsite, consider the potential damage that one broken fitting in an unfinished building can cause. Jobsites can be unattended for stretches of time due to weather or the weekend. And if a leak is not discovered promptly, tremendous damage can result.
The same potential exists in operational facilities. It could be as mundane as leaking toilets or problems with cooling towers that lead to increased operational costs that add up. It could be as catastrophic as an undiscovered leak on an upper floor that starts on a weekend and is not discovered until it has caused millions of dollars of damage to the floors below.
The WINT application works in any of these settings. Whether it’s a construction site or an operational facility, the same equipment is used: a valve, a meter, a processor and communication to the cloud. The difference is in the algorithms used. And since these are connected devices, we can even change the algorithms once the project ends so the WINT devices are set to work in the new operational facility.
Q: How can WINT be integrated into a risk or project management approach?
A: Water in construction projects is a source of two types of risk: the first is the actual damage to the project and equipment. The second is project delays. For GCs, time is money. One water leak left unattended can end up delaying a building project for weeks or months and cost millions in damages and re-work. Using WINT as a part of the project management toolkit helps GCs effectively mitigate these risks.
This is how many of our construction customers, including a number of multi-billion dollar a year general contractors, use WINT within their risk management methodology as a way of keeping projects on time and within budget.
One of these GCs started using WINT three years ago, at which point they had already experienced millions of dollars in accumulated water damage claims and the risk of rising insurance premiums. Following their introduction to our company, they’ve used our solution in 40 different projects, including commercial, residential and multi-tenant buildings. Since using WINT this customer has deployed WINT at 40 projects and has not experienced a single water leak claim. At this point they have issued a CEO mandate to deploy it on all projects, from day one. And beyond the damage prevention benefits, they’ve also reduced project overhead and water consumption.
Q: How easily can the technology be integrated into a larger construction ecosystem?
A: We deal with many contractors, from small and mid-size to the world’s largest contractors, because they all suffer from the same problem and are equally at risk.
WINT is highly scalable. As we enter a project, we will design the solution to be optimized for the specific project. Moreover, the solution is customizable and will evolve for the different phases of the project. Clearly the early days require a different solution from later stages of the job when the finishes are in, let alone elevators and electrical switchgear that could be damaged by a leak. We have a service center that understands how contractors operate, and we can customize the solution for your needs.
Q: What has enabled the technology to be so scalable? How do you see the technology evolving?
A: The Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud-based technology have cut applications loose from the scale constraints of previous times. The implication of IoT devices is that any site can benefit from the cloud’s endless processing power without having to deal with complex and costly computing infrastructure.
WINT units are connected to the cloud, allowing dozens or hundreds of devices to wirelessly analyze water usage conditions. The AI application, its algorithms and the continuous learning that are at its core are continuously updated at the jobsite. This means the data collected and the analysis performed increase in accuracy and are able to detect anomalies with optimal granularity.