Celebrating Success at Cappagh Browne: A Stand Down Event to Remember

Weathering the Storm: Challenges in Service Delivery

Climate change is no longer just a risk for future consideration. Every year, its impact manifests through more intense extreme weather events – including heavy rainfall. By 2050, the Environment Agency predicts that there will be up to a 50% surge in wastewater flow through the sewers due to the heightened intensity of extreme rainfall events.

For the wastewater industry, tackling the challenges brought by climate change is at the top of the agenda. Timely service delivery is critical to maintaining community health and environmental standards. Wetter winters and more named storms require increased resources to meet rising demand and maintain the high level of service customers expect and deserve.

The entire network faces a growing challenge; how to sustain service levels during these increasingly unpredictable and severe weather events. The winter of 2023-24, the wettest since 1890, brought relentless storms that pushed the network to its limits, leading to a dramatic surge in maintenance demand and significantly increasing the risk of backlogs and strained resources.

Innovation in Action

To address this pressing challenge, CBUL and Southern Water forged a proactive and innovative partnership. A project team was created to bring their shared vision to life; using historic rainfall, job volumes, and productivity along with forecast rainfall to predict the likely work volumes (and therefore resource requirement) to improve demand planning in the utilities sector.

A machine learning, predictive demand and capacity model emerged from this collaboration, initially trained on 8 years of operational and weather data. This data-driven, predictive technology enables the team to predict maintenance needs down to county and sub-county levels. And the learning continues to evolve, as current data is added, enhancing and refining its accuracy.

Throughout the demanding winter of 2023/24, the technology faced a rigorous trial, supporting the team in predicting spikes in demand and effectively distributing resources.

“Our strategy revolved around transforming data into actionable insights,” explains Joe Hopkins, Operations Manager. “The predictive demand and capacity model leveraged eight years of data to anticipate potential issues, allowing us to proactively address challenges before they escalated.”

Triumph Against the Odds: Celebrating Success

The results were outstanding. Despite facing the most severe winter weather in over a century, CBUL achieved a 96% Service Level Agreement (SLA) compliance rate. This milestone was celebrated at a special stand-down event, recognising the team’s hard work and dedication.

Claire Law, Customer Journey Manager at Cappagh Browne shared this praise for the team; “By having a dedicated, motivated team in conjunction with our pioneering techniques and having the right resource in the right place at the right time thanks to our predictive modelling, we were able to accomplish what sometimes seemed impossible. This success propels our team forward, inspiring us to continue pushing boundaries and finding innovative solutions to future challenges.”

Looking Forward: Expanding Our Horizons

Looking ahead, CBUL aims to expand the predictive demand and capacity model to other operational areas. The success of the current initiative underscores the potential for broader application in predicting and managing demand.

“We’re already exploring how to refine our model further,” Joe explained. “By leveraging real-time travel data against a proven and sustained operational model, we hope to enhance our real-time response capabilities, ensuring even better service for our customers.”

Cappagh Browne’s SLA success story is a shining example of how innovation, teamwork, and a forward-thinking approach can transform challenges into opportunities. With their eyes set firmly on the future, the team is ready to tackle the next set of challenges, ensuring they continue to deliver exceptional service, no matter what the weather brings.