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Digitization in Water Industry

Submitted by B K Kumaran (Head – TST & Commissioning)

Finite in water resources and end users stringent deliverable creates huge pressure on this segment which necessitates water treatment industries to deliver more efficiently including safe and secure drinking water, storm water management and waste water management. Water crisis has been indicated as one of the main global risks due to the climate change. Pandemic affected the water treatment and waste water treatment segment also. Also the pandemic didn’t spare the water industry and many people in the treatment plants were affected, which led to skeletal resources operating these huge facilities. Innovative approaches like Remote Monitoring, extensive usage of smart condition monitoring devices for the rotary equipment, application of IOT and by adopting smart monitoring sensors improve service level sustainability and economic viability. Digitization in water segment also helped in sync with other utilities like power, transport and disaster management. This leads to the operational continuity in the scheme of things.

Generally, water & waste water treatment plants in municipal and Industry are operated through SCADA (Supervisory control and Data acquisition) and PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) with sufficient interlocks and with all safety features. During this global Pandemic, to mitigate the risk of the skeletal manpower at site, one of the solutions that has come handy is to monitor the plant performance at a centralized Network operations center located at a remote location. Process experts can monitor the multiple plants located at different parts of the world. In case any abnormality is observed in the plant performance from these remote locations, an alert is issued to the site team and also provides solutions to the problems. This methodology has also been used extensively in virtual commissioning of the equipment, besides the process monitoring of the plant.

IOT’s have become handy and are being extensively used in process analyzers and instruments which can provide Real time data, trends, escalation matrix and can also communicate to the centralized monitoring stations. Presently, manual log sheets are becoming obsolete and digital log sheets, which are automatically generated from system are preferred which is an authentic data. IOT supports OPEX costs like optimizing chemicals, power, utilities and reducing wastage.

The increasing complexity in various technologies necessitates a paradigm shift to the next generation and water systems beyond conventional water and sewerage water. Conditional based monitoring services can work with all the water automation products for gaining access to real time data via cloud from remedial loaded water assets as this drives the sector shift from reactive to real time monitoring. Above digital interventions definitely involve CAPEX, however OPEX will be reduced drastically for long term plant operations. On the other hand, this will improve the reliability of equipment and plants. It is imperative that awareness and familiarization of these technologies have to be focused in various forums and webinars.

Digitization & Artificial intelligence ensures Operational excellence by way of:

  • Lesser machinery breakdown due to usage of IOTS, smart sensors and real time monitoring
  • Lesser energy consumption on optimum energy usage
  • Optimized Chemical Consumption
  • Reduced water losses
  • Reduced contamination of water bodies
  • Improved customer satisfaction and transparent service level agreement
  • Digitization solutions allows experts to analyze data collected from smart sensors and derive into corrective and confident action to extend equipment failure
  • Digitization can trigger the earliest possible warning

 

Going forward, digitization and artificial intelligence will play a critical role in the water and wastewater treatment industry as well for ensuring Operational Excellence.

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