Innovation in the water sector will be enabled by automotive skills

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:

According to water and environmental engineering specialists at Ricardo, technology and engineering skills from the automotive industry could help the UK water sector tackle the increasing impacts of climate change, while delivering a more resilient service at a lower cost.

Ricardo is investing in its water practice, and is collaborating with major water sector partners in the development of innovative approaches and technologies. Beyond this, however, the company is now actively fostering collaboration between its automotive and water industry engineering teams in order to realise the potential of cross-industry sharing of technologies and ideas, for the benefit of its water sector clients.

Daressa Frodsham, director of Ricardo Water & Environment practice, said: “It is no secret that the water sector is in need of a different approach to boost engineering capacity and skills in order to drive forward the innovations required to address the very pressing challenges that it faces.”

While at first glance the water industry might appear a very different domain to the automotive industry, Frodsham added that there are many opportunities. Computer-aided simulation and optimisation, and advanced sensors, prognostics and control system technologies, are common to both industries and will enable Ricardo to deploy automotive-derived skills and techniques to the water sector.

“We can also leverage our strategic consulting skills focused on the challenges of operational management, which are equally applicable to the water industry,” Frodsham continued. “By harnessing these available skills and technologies, we can develop the strategic vision and innovations required to strengthen water sector resilience and sustainability, while adding fresh thinking and improving innovation and affordability.”

The UK water sector faces challenges from increased resource scarcity alongside regulative pressures to continually enhance customer service. The water services regulation authority, Ofwat, has highlighted innovation as a core pillar of good water sector governance, and there is an expectation for companies to demonstrate this during the 2019 water sector price review. However, as with the engineering industry, the water industry is also facing a substantial skills gap in terms of engineering.

In addition to leveraging cross-sectoral skills and technology synergies, Ricardo says it will continue to invest in the services it provides to the water industry. In July 2017, Ricardo will open a new office in Bristol to house its expanded Water & Environment team.


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