Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival 2023

The Northumbrian Water Innovation Festival saw innovators from across the industry arrive at Newcastle Racecourse from the 10th to the 13th of July, to tackle some of the fundamental challenges facing the water industry at present, with an emphasis on innovation and collaboration.

The four-day event saw a series of sprints, hacks and dashes – which were workshop-style sessions that followed a five-stage process with the aim of seeking out new ideas and solutions to challenges faced by the water sector and beyond. These sprints took place in different areas of the racecourse grounds, with each area focusing on its speciality which was anything that could be associated within the water industry.

Mackenzie Construction Project Manager Bob McKinnie attended the Service Reservoir Maintenance sprint ‘Let’s Get Tanked up’, led by the project team from NWL consisting of Gary Cassels, Helen Guy, Peter Bell and Jayne Hull. Also in attendance at this sprint were area team leaders who are responsible for the outages of tanks and other industry experts within this field such as Thames Water, Southern Water, Welsh Water, Southeast Water, Scottish Water and DWI.

During the sprint, all attendees were split into 5 tables to vary the skill set amongst operations, water quality, risk and innovation, and each table presented an overview of the current Service Reservoir Maintenance Process. Each table was then asked to highlight the good and bad practices within the process from a client and supplier point of view. In an open and honest environment, Mackenzie Construction shared their input with their fellow industry experts, with all attendee’s views in agreement.

At the end of each day, each table was allocated an area associated with the programme, and to identify two realistic deliverables that the NWL Project team could take forward to the NWL Executive Leadership Team (ELT) later that week. Bob’s table was assessing risk, but it was encouraged within the sprint to overlap with the other groups, offering advice and listening to others, allowing Bob to take away some learnings for Mackenzie Construction. Bob’s team came up with the idea of a designated Reservoir outage team within NWL and drafted a plan to implement this. This idea was presented to the other teams at the end of the day and discussed favourably by the NWL team describing it as a “brain wave” and was confirmed to be taken to the ELT.

Bob described the festival as a “thoroughly enjoyable event” and is looking forward to seeing the developments from the Service Reservoir Maintenance sprint.