Case study – Preventative leak detection cuts business interruption risk for major hotel group

Hotel Room
When an entire floor, comprising 20 rooms, of a major Stockholm hotel was put out of action for six months thanks to a number of water leaks, serious questions were asked by the property manager and the hotel owner including, how can we prevent this from happening again?

Working together with the property manager and the hotel owner, the team at Caption Data Ltd (CDL), together with partners Polygon came up with a solution.

The background: Polygon, CDL and preventative leak detection

Polygon is the leading global player in water and fire damage restoration, working both with insurance companies and businesses. The company has now moved into the field of damage prevention, partnering with the team here at Caption Data Ltd.

We are one of the world’s leading IoT/remote monitoring specialists focusing on leak detection, water damage and OEM IoT solutions. Polygon uses our monitoring systems and telemetry extensively across the globe, to help manage restoration and temporary climate control work.

At CDL, we have worked extensively with all major players in the water damage restoration field for more than a decade.

The Leak Detection Solution

Experts from Polygon and CDL first started working on the specific solution back in March 2019, although concept discussions had been held in our offices with Polygon corporate staff and insurance and IT companies as far back as November 2017.

Technically there was a clear need for:

  • Speed, simplicity and reliability of installation
    • Speed of installation – effective, robust and quick installation is essential for solutions to be deployed at scale. If a single sensor takes one hour to install rather than 10-15 minutes then this could be the difference between commercial viability or not
    • Simplicity of installation – for the solution to be installed at scale, reliance on top skilled engineers is not viable. The technology, whilst powerful and complex in what it does, has to be quick and easy to install by an entry level technician. This must be complete with:
      • Full end to end check by a technician (it is not acceptable to realise a sensor has not communicated in after you have left the target install location)
      • Installation notes such as location (room number), location details (e.g. under bath) must be recorded to the platform at point of install, not added later
      • If the sensors are challenging to install effectively, technician adoption will be affected. The technicians installing the system must feel confident in what they are doing
    • Reliability of installation – once installed the sensors must operate reliably for extended periods of time. SLAs are being upheld by the operation of the solution
  • Viability in tight, enclosed, hidden spaces in multistorey buildings, requiring excellent communications.
  • Monitoring of leak rope, ambient temperature and humidity, and wood moisture equivalent of structural materials
  • Lifetime expectations from batteries of five years plus
  • The functionality that Polygon were used to, from our IoT platform, the SmartHubTM
  • Potential for a digital output to control solenoids on water systems via the SmartHubTM

We decided to use LoRaWAN technology, due to its range within buildings and coverage in worldwide built up environments, but producing our own custom units, as there were no commercially available LoRaWAN sensors. Time was critical, due to the small window of opportunity to fit the sensors in the first set of rooms in the hotel.

Within weeks we had designed, manufactured (including special firmware), tested, and taken to site to install, 50 sensors.

Connectivity with the LoRaWAN network was seamless and within minutes of each unit being switched on it was registering on the CDL SmartHubTM and reporting in.

Some of the installations were in very challenging locations within voids, such as the bathroom recesses, which took five days to install across the 25 bathroom suites.

 

Sensor installed in roof space

Battery-powered sensor installed in roof space

Sensor being commissioned with tablet

Sensor being commissioned with tablet

The Leak Detection Outcome

Crucially, the preventative leak detection system was quickly proven to work. Within a matter of weeks of installation, the first alarm messages were received of a water leak, coming from a toilet waste pipe. Polygon immediately alerted the hotel building’s property managers and the hotel owner, and went out on site to quickly prevent the leak from creating any damage.

Sensor with accessories

Sensor with accessories

In  December 2019, Polygon and the CDL team were ready to move to the next phase, with further installation of 250 sensors completing the entire hotel, and an order was placed with CDL for the final spec sensors.

Sensor being installed in void behind toilet

In February 2020, we assisted with the installation and also trained Polygon technicians so they can handle future installs.

Data management

 

Data Management

Our experience of working with major organisations, with volume installations and hundreds of sensors reporting into our SmartHubTM, proved invaluable for this client.

Admin functions allowing naming and grouping of assets into teams, alarm reporting options with unlimited SMS and email addresses for every individual sensor, the ability to see trends at a glance and take actions based on high and low alarms on all the parameters measured, and to initiate actions remotely when needed – all of this from any internet enabled device from any browser with no software to load (or buy!)

 

Return on investment

With the cost per sensor per day approaching zero over a multiyear period, and the cost of business interruption being potentially Euro millions, the benefit is clear.

This Swedish hotel group is planning to roll out monitoring to its entire portfolio.

“We have worked closely with Caption Data on this project to develop a new offering that combines our water damage expertise and service with the latest digital technology. This highlights in a real world application how the latest advances in IoT solutions can deliver real client value. Caption Data’s 10+ years IoT experience in the water damage industry provided a key and essential part in this project and we look forward to deploying more of these solutions to our commercial client base moving forward,”

Caroline Finslo, Head of Business Development Polygon.

If your business calls for a preventative leak detection system, or if you are an insurer whose clients would benefit, then please get in touch with the team here at Caption Data Ltd.