How Industrial Networking Is Used for Water Monitoring
While our water supply may not be something we consciously think of, it is something that we cannot live without. Each time we flush a toilet, turn on a faucet or spigot, or remove clean clothes from the washing machine, water must travel to a treatment facility before reentering the environment. Here we examine how industrial networking is used for water monitoring.
To keep our water supply safe for use, water distribution and wastewater management companies continuously perform a series of complicated tasks that must be closely monitored. Not only do these facilities keep our water safe for consumption and use, but they also ensure that sewage and wastewater travel to the appropriate place (treatment plants) rather than infiltrating our homes or flowing through the streets.
The Problem in Large-Scale Monitoring
Keeping clean water, sewage, and wastewater flowing to the appropriate place is a minor part of the puzzle. A much larger issue is monitoring such a massive area. Wastewater and water distribution facilities need to continuously monitor a vast system of pipelines, complex in-house treatment processes, and critical factors related to water quality. Should a pipeline burst, leak, or develop a blockage, personnel need to respond to the situation immediately. Because repairs or maintenance can take days to complete, it is critical to address the issue in a timely manner, as many people will be negatively impacted.
Water and Wastewater Treatment Processes
Any time water is used, it travels through a series of pipelines to a massive wastewater treatment plant. These treatment plants span hundreds of acres and include several process areas. Some of these process areas include:
- Bar screens
- Grit chambers
- Aeration tanks
- Bio solids
Controlling, managing, and monitoring each segment of the water treatment process is critical. Oftentimes, monitoring stations are set up along pipelines and around different areas throughout the facility. Communication between these stations and each process area is essential, and the only suitable means of doing so is through Ethernet.
While treatment plants with newer equipment enjoy data collected through Ethernet, facilities with older equipment (serial communication or measurement equipment) use serial device servers or industrial media converters to convert serial data to Ethernet data. This allows facilities to save money by connecting to the network through the use of their older equipment.
The Solution: Industrial Networking
In order to monitor such a massive area, water and wastewater treatment plants need large-scale networking solutions. Facilities need a solution that is not phased by harsh environments, constant and heavy usage, varying standards in communication, and a need for precision in monitoring and managing various processes.
This is where industrial networking comes into play.
Industrial networking, including SCADA systems and Ethernet, answer the treatment plants’ calls. These networking components are industrial-grade and can stand up to the challenges set before them. Industrial networking solutions:
- Allow facilities to connect existing serial devices to Ethernet
- Allow long-distance communication through fiber optics
- Feature reliable data routing
- Feature built-in network management software for easy control
- Can withstand shock and vibration
- Can withstand a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels
Let’s move on to explore how industrial networking is used for water and wastewater monitoring.
Uses for Industrial Networking Solutions
Water and wastewater treatment facilities use industrial networking solutions for a variety of tasks, including:
(1) Remote pump station monitoring
- Monitoring and controlling water flow, pressure levels, and potential leaks
- Sounding an alarm via text or email
- Notifying technicians and other staff about emergency and non-emergency situations
(2) Managing water resources
- Keep dams running smoothly and effectively
Monitoring Remote Pumping Stations
Water resources such as dams are an important part of the water treatment and distribution process. Because these dams are so vast, they require industrial networking devices capable of communicating over large distances. In addition, many existing dams are relatively old. This means that they feature outdated serial equipment.
Modern industrial networking solutions allow technicians to monitor and control dams with or without serial equipment. Some facilities may choose to install a serial device server to transform serial data into Ethernet data, which is then analyzed using modern equipment. Other facilities may choose to replace serial equipment altogether with industrial networking equipment.
Installing up-to-date networking equipment is critical for water and wastewater treatment plants due to the vast amount of monitoring and control required by dams. This monitoring and control data gives technicians:
- Essential insight into goings-on, which helps them keep the dam running efficiently
- The ability to monitor all parts of the dam for safety and security reasons
- The ability to collect, monitor, and manage data related to water intake, distribution, and power generation
In order for networking equipment to work properly, especially across such long distances and in such harsh environments, all networking solutions must be able to withstand electronic noise interference. This interference is most often created by large motors, turbines, and power itself. In applications where large amounts of electronic noise interference are expected, fiber optics are ideal.
Other Ways Industrial Networking Is Used in Water & Wastewater Monitoring
In addition to monitoring remote pumping stations and managing water resources, there are several other ways industrial networking is used to monitor the water and wastewater treatment process. For example, data errors are reduced, which therefore prevents the accidental release of pollutants into the environment. Industrial networking is also ideal for collecting data remotely and controlling devices from afar. Common devices that can be remotely controlled include control pumps, gates, aerators, and flow meters.