Food• AGRICULTURE

Fixing Leaks with Big Tech

By Audrey Henderson
A complex solution to a simple-seeming problem.

INDIA’S MASSIVE POPULATION OF 1.3 BILLION people includes an equally staggering 63.4 million rural residents without access to clean water—more than any other nation on earth. Vectus, based in Noida, near Delhi in northern India, is the country’s fastest-growing pipe and water storage company. Vectus operates 26 manufacturing and depot sites across India, but customer orders, billing, and product dispatches were done manually. High inaccuracy rates from human error led to downtime, necessitating extra shifts at a cost of 12 million rupees ($180,000) in overtime wages. 

Vectus collaborated with information tech provider SAP to address operational efficiency challenges that interfered with service to its customers and the growth of the company. Vectus’s outdated legacy IT system was replaced with bleeding-edge hardware and software, which allowed Vectus to quickly pinpoint a primary source of water waste: leaky pipes. 

With vastly powerful technology isolating such an old-school plumbing problem, identifying the specific cases led to additional improvements. Vectus created a mobile app that provides plumbers with vital information and advice, including the best standard practices to repair and prevent leaks. And their shiny new IT systems have kept the Vectus facilities running with less downtime, meaning service has been more regular and dependable. Software won’t bring clean water to rural India, but it may help those carrying water to carry it further, and to keep it cleaner.