The EPFL-based start-up Droople was founded in 2018 by visionary computer science engineer Ramzi Bouzerda. ‘As a dad, I care a lot about the future of younger generations,’ explains Ramzi Bouzerda. Droople’s vision is therefore very clear: ‘We want to improve the way we use water to ensure a sustainable future for humanity.’ Droople is contributing to this vision with an AI-enabled system that allows customers to measure, monitor and analyse their water processes. The system can be used for residential, industrial, and commercial applications.
Analogue or digital sensors collect data such as flow rate, temperature, and hardness of the water. The communication module iLink® receives the data and transforms it from raw to qualified data. The Mini Hub® acts as the internet access gateway. When Swisscom’s Low Power Network (LPN) LoRaWAN is available, Droople devices use that network. Droople uses a fog computing approach, which means a decentralised structure between the cloud and the iLink® modules. This allows the iLink® modules to share insights and learn from each other. The data can be viewed in a user-friendly app. Thanks to Droople’s intelligent water management, operators can detect any leaks, predict maintenance requirements, and automate the procurement of their consumables. Ramzi Bouzerda adds: ‘The system also increases end-users’ awareness of their water consumption and helps them change their behaviour so as to achieve a more economical use of water.’
The Droople system reduces the ratio of unplanned interventions by 20% on average and expands the lifetime of the water assets by 10% on average. Moreover, the early detection of any leakage prevents further water damage and reduces costs for the tenant, property owner and insurance company. ‘All in all, we have a pay-back period of less than a year,’ explains Ramzi Bouzerda.
‘When we consider that approximately 25% of water in the built environment is wasted through leaks, outdated infrastructure, malfunctions and human error, the global impact of water-related carbon emissions is enormous,’ says Ramzi Bouzerda, thereby illustrating the need for action from an ecological point of view. Thanks to Droople, there is now a tool with which the waste of water and energy, and thus also CO2 emissions, can be reduced. Droople’s intelligent system reduces the waste of water by at least 10% on average per area containing 40 water assets such as taps, urinals, and toilets. Energy waste related to hot water can even be reduced by up to 15% for a multi-tenant building. ‘Every 1000 litres of water consumed generates between 7 and 15 kg of carbon emissions. Therefore, reducing water waste has a major influence in fighting climate change,’ states Ramzi Bouzerda.
But how did this all start? Unlike other start-ups, Droople was not born in a garage, but in a kitchen. The Droople story began in the middle of the night in September 2016. ‘I woke up to the hungry crying of my baby boy and got up to fill his bottle with water and milk powder but was too tired to measure the water with accuracy,’ tells Ramzi Bouzerda. ‘That’s when I had the business idea of an intelligent water management system that could measure the water volume.’ Inspired by the data mining of Google, the product performance of Apple and the notion of the Swiss precision of a drop, Ramzi Bouzerda founded a business and called it ‘Droople’. Today, Droople has 12 employees (who call themselves ‘Drooplets’) from 10 different nationalities and has happy customers all over Europe, North America and Asia. In 2021, the year of commercialisation, Droople was already able to deploy more than 1000 units and to save more than 8 tonnes of CO2eq. ‘This is similar to the annual emissions of five passenger cars in Switzerland,’ compares Ramzi Bouzerda proudly.
Looking back at this very successful first year of business, we can be sure that Droople will make a significant contribution to its vision of sustainable management of fresh water by continuing to ambitiously pursue its motto ‘every drop counts’.
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