Maximizing Grinder Pumps with SCADA Monitoring

Water and wastewater management are some of the most important considerations for a home or building. As the average US citizen uses about 125 gallons of water per day, these water-management systems are working non-stop to keep up with our daily lives. Any hiccup or malfunction can mean serious trouble and can cost a significant amount of money to replace.

 

The first step in reducing the likelihood of these accidents occurring is becoming more familiar with these systems and their components. This article will focus primarily on the purpose of a grinder pump.

 

What is a Grinder Pump?

First and foremost, it is important to differentiate a grinder pump from a sump pump. They may function in a similar manner, but they serve very different functions. A grinder pump is a primary function is to carry wastewater from one place to another. More specifically, these pumps are responsible for taking wastewater away from homes.

 

Grinder pumps have large holding tanks that will collect all of the wastewater from a home or building. This includes water from toilets, bathtubs, sinks, washing machines and more. Grinder-pumps activate when the wastewater reaches a certain level in the holding tank. The pump grinds the wastewater into a finer liquid and sends it to a septic tank or sewer system.

 

Despite having a simple function, there are many things that can go wrong with a sewage pump. Blockages occur when debris clumps together and clog the pump altogether. This can cause sewage to leak into the yard which can be potentially harmful. Another common malfunction is clotting. Smaller than blockages, clots occur when only a portion of the pump is obstructed. This doesn’t cause leaks but wastes energy and can lead to a slower movement of wastewater.

 

Another common issue is when the pump turns on and off intermittently for no apparent reason. This requires some professional inspection. Sewage pumps only last about ten years. Beyond this point, issues and malfunctions will become more common. Many people struggle to maintain the proper functioning of these pumps because they have no way to monitor them.

 

Grinder Pump Alarms and SCADA Monitoring

High Tide Technologies (HTT) is a cloud-based company with an efficient solution to this lack of monitoring. HTT provides cloud-based SCADA systems that have the capability to monitor and control these pumps. SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition and that is exactly what this system accomplishes. It offers users an overview and control of these pump systems by providing real-time data that can point to how each unit is functioning. This allows problems to be fixed before they cause damage or harm to the unit.

 

These SCADA systems also provide users with the ability to control pumps remotely, effectively saving time and money. The technology may seem a bit complicated, but the way this system functions is quite simple.

 

SCADA is the technology that is utilized by the Grinder-Pump Guardian (GPG) system. This system has the ability to monitor 180 sewer pumps at the same time. Each pump is fixed with a remote module that will send data to a HTT-1100 unit.

 

This acts as the hub collects and communicates data. The remote modules in each pump will be able to monitor for any malfunctions or abnormal activity. The collector will receive reports if there is an excessive run-time, a grinder pump alarm or any other issue. These grinder pump alarms alert users that something has gone wrong. The collecting unit will then relay the messages and data to servers at High Tide Technologies.

 

Another major advantage of this GPG system is the web interface provided with the technology. Users can get an accurate reading of how each pump is functioning. This takes out any guesswork, manually checking and greatly reduces the chance of significant damage.

 

This system allows users to report any malfunctions immediately in order to get assistance quickly before the issue gets out of control. This interface will also keep a record of the network’s entire service history. SCADA monitoring makes it easy to monitor and record how sewage pumps are operating. This is a great option for anyone in charge of operating a host of pumps.

Improving on a Good Idea: How Satellite-Based SCADA Enhanced In-Place Solutions

Florida— the land of surf, sand, sun, and… septic tanks? Aging septic tanks (which include over 2.6 million homes) is a growing concern for Florida residents because the outdated systems can leak nitrogen and other contaminants into the groundwater. In 2010, the Florida legislature passed a law requiring inspections for septic tanks every five years—an edict that forces smaller utility providers, like Hillsborough County in eastern Florida, to find creative ways to modernize their systems while staying on budget.

Centered on the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area, Hillsborough County is the fourth most populous county in Florida, with more than 1.3 million residents calling it home. Managing their water, wastewater, and sewage system is the Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department. In 1979, the Public Utilities Department was ahead of the curve and adopted a plan to reduce potential health hazards from septic tanks in two of its residential areas: Ruskin and Wimauma. Working with USEPA grants, the Utility has been gradually replacing septic tanks with a low-pressure sewer system (LPSS). Three decades after its initial push, the utility is nearing its goal to provide a safe LPSS for residents in all neighborhoods.

While the LPSS initiative did bring needed service upgrades to the residential areas, the number of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) also increased due to heavy rains and floods. Combined with outdated or inadequate communication and data retrieval systems, the good idea was quickly getting bogged down with bigger problems.

So when the Utility needed to find a cost-effective, efficient way to gather current and historical information, as well as to note trends, they decided to go with a SCADA system. The first pilot program did not deliver as expected and the Utility had to reassess their parameters. The second attempt proved to be the winning combination because it was affordable and high quality, factored in public safety, and included features designed for specific environmental concerns, like aging septic systems.

High Tide Technologies offered Hillsborough County Utilities a satellite-based SCADA solution that provides the Utility with wireless monitoring of all assets, including remote ones, as well as desired alarm notifications. Utility workers are alerted via text, phone, or pager to any issues, and personnel has instant access to the recorded data from individual grinder pumps. The solution also provides a mapping feature that can guide utility personnel to units in stress or alarm. Satellite-based SCADA solutions are scalable and fit easily within most utility budgets while reducing man hours, modernizing older systems, protecting equipment, and managing operations.

In one fell swoop, the Hillsborough County Public Utilities Department had the right tools to continue to build on their great idea of proactively addressing aging septic tanks. By using a satellite-based SCADA, the Utility can scale as needed and always be ahead of the curve for any potentially damaging or dangerous problems. And residents of Hillsborough County can focus on the surf, sand, and sun… instead of leaking septic tanks.