SuDS structure in a residential street

SME designs drainage systems for large development projects

New Customer Spotlight

Innovyze recently welcomed WilsonDee, a start-up civil engineering consultancy, to the growing band of MicroDrainage users. While the company was first registered in November 2017, it already has an impressive amount of experience among its three employees. WilsonDee is a small-to-medium enterprise, otherwise known as an SME, one of the growing number of smaller companies who are using MicroDrainage to help build their business.

The Challenge

A new start-up with big ambitions

What makes MicroDrainage a good choice for an SME looking for a drainage design solution?

Let’s get the tricky topic out of the way first: money. Investing in technology is an important consideration for any business. MicroDrainage is a significant investment for a small company, especially one in the start-up phase when money tends to go out faster than it comes in. David Bond, Civil Engineering Design Manager with WilsonDee explained that, “MicroDrainage was on our requirements wish list from the start, but we first had to spend money to get our company set up to be in a position to attract clients & to meet industry requirements.”

Most companies experience this catch-22 at start up. Best-in-class technology can help you obtain and deliver projects, but you need incoming revenue to afford it. Ideally, WilsonDee would have liked to have MicroDrainage from the very start but wanted to secure contracts to cover the cost before investing. “The team at Innovyze understood our situation and didn’t pressure us. They helped us to get set up and assured us that once we had secured the required contracts we could be up and running within a couple of days. They were true to their word. This was vital as it allowed us to invest in other areas while knowing we would have MicroDrainage when we needed it.”

The Solution

“MicroDrainage really is the industry standard,” Bond continued. “It’s the format that all the water authorities, local councils and other major authorities look for from planning stage through to approvals.” Drainage designs are submitted for technical approval from the adopting water company who are used to seeing the design calculations in MicroDrainage. “It’s easier for them to approve something in a familiar format, that has been designed using proven software and is to a standard they have confidence in.”

(Developers) like to receive files that they know they can trust and are familiar with – which means MicroDrainage.

The Results

Winning new contracts for large developments

WilsonDee has gone on to win contracts to provide Civil Engineering Design services on a large scale. They are currently working with one of the largest housing developers in the country to produce designs for a 260-plot site and a second 227 plot site within Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire and have also recently secured design works with a second major housing developer for a 150-plot site within Leicestershire.

An impressive start for an SME, but perhaps not surprising given the company’s background. WilsonDee was founded in November 2017 by Amadou Dampha. Amadou had worked as a structural and civil engineer for WSP, URS and AECOM before setting up Damjul Ltd, a successful civil and structural engineering consultancy specialising in asset management and structural assessments. Wanting to broaden his expertise, Amadou stepped back from Damjul Ltd to take up the position of Project Engineer at the Northampton Division of Barratt Homes. He spent three years building up the necessary skills and understanding to set up WilsonDee with David Bond and Adam Marciniak, connections he made during this time with Barratt Homes.

The team at WilsonDee use XPSite 3D – also from Innovyze – as well as MicroDrainage to design roads and drainage for sites. Bond explained, “There’s never any problems getting information between MicroDrainage and XPSite 3D because of the high level of integration between them. When you update the design in one package, it’s reflected in the other. This means you can easily tweak design principles as required to work out the most efficient optimum design.”

MicroDrainage might be the standard that adopting authorities look for, but what about the housing developers? “It’s an unofficial requirement,” according to Bond. “When developers are considering us for design projects they will ask “what software do you use?” This is because they like to receive files that they know they can trust and are familiar with – which means MicroDrainage.”

MicroDrainage gives you a way of proving that your system works and is the best it can be.

Designing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)

Sustainable Drainage Systems are now a key part of nearly every large development. They are specified by local authorities following the recommendations for flood risk management systems that are detailed in the National Planning Policy Framework and Sewers for Adoption (6 & 7).

“Nearly all large developments are required to specify SuDS in order to be considered for adoption under S104 Agreement with the water authority responsible for area the development is in,” Bond stressed. “We design our drainage systems to meet adoption criteria including SuDS and have successfully achieved adoption of drainage systems with SuDS features with Severn Trent Water, Anglian Water, Thames Water and Southern Water.”

WilsonDee initially uses MicroDrainage to calculate the storage estimate for the SuDS structures by using the allowed discharge rate for site and other information such as the impermeable area of site flowing into the system. “In most cases it’s a pond or swale but on some sites we may add other features into the SuDS storage calculation,” said Bond. They then design their system based on these calculations before using the software to simulate storm event scenarios of 1 in 2yr, 30yr, 40yr, 50yr and 1 in 100 year plus 30/40% for climate change to see if the system meets the requirements.

“Fundamentally we run the calculations to prove the system works. Even with storage calculations and planning you may find localised flooding and may need to modify the system to resolve this.” He continued, “However, just as important is the ability to see if a system is over-designed as if, for example, we reduce pipe sizes we could create huge savings for our clients.”

Bond stressed that MicroDrainage is not a substitute for the engineering knowledge it takes to design drainage systems or the ability to be able to modify them to create an optimum design.

“Adding MicroDrainage to your engineering knowledge gives you confidence in your approach,” he said. “Essentially, MicroDrainage gives you a way of proving that your system works and is the best it can be.”

While it is early days for WilsonDee, both in terms of their business and their MicroDrainage journey, the decision to choose MicroDrainage is already paying off. We look forward to revisiting Amadou, David and Adam to learn more about the success of their projects in the future.

You can find out more about WilsonDee on the Damjul Ltd website.

For SMEs looking to build their drainage design capabilities