Water Infrastructure Act of 2018

In September of 2018, the House and U.S. Senate were able to come together and reach an agreement on America’s water infrastructure. The lawmakers committed to legislation known as America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. On October 23, 2018, President Donald Trump signed this into law and enacting nationwide policies that authorized water resource projects.

 

Serious Need of Attention

Every community in the United States depends on its infrastructure designed to handle water. Economic growth can only happen with effective drinking water systems, levees, ports, and reservoirs that operate efficiently. Small business, as well as families, crops, and livestock, all depend on having access to sufficient amounts of clean water. It is important for communities to have an infrastructure that avoids dangerous flooding and can store extra water to handle drought conditions when they occur and more.

All this depends on a community’s infrastructure for water. Many of these systems throughout the country are old and need immediate attention. The Trump Infrastructure bill provides communities with the necessary tools to improve their infrastructure as well as create jobs and more.

 

Water Storage Capabilities

Some of the Infrastructure spendings will be for projects designed to improve water storage capabilities of the United States. Irrigation and drinking systems, as well as an upgrade to wastewater handling, are some other projects that are part of the new legislation. There is also water resource development projects that will be deauthorized in the amount of $4 billion. These are projects determined by Congress to not be valid. This is because they lack local support. These projects are also considered to not be feasible, relevant or have insufficient resources.

 

Priority

The issues associated with this legislation are a priority for President Donald Trump’s White House. According to a document provided by the White House, the President is going to take federal money in the amount of $200 billion and turn it into over $1.4 trillion designated for repairing and improving America’s water infrastructure. This will be accomplished by leveraging private investment as well as state and local tax funds.

Out of this total amount, only $200 billion is designed to be taken directly from federal spending. Local and state governments are intended to have a 4-to-1 ratio of matching federal allocation.

 

Marginalized Communities

The Trump Infrastructure bill is designed to help marginalized communities with their water needs. A minimum of one employee from the EPA will be the contact person for each issue affecting low-income, tribal as well as minority communities. A provision in the legislation requires the government to make low-income communities a priority when it comes to programs designed for lead testing.

Funding for tribal land water projects is authorized in this legislation. It also directs an investigation into Native American tribes in Oregon to see if building certain dams has caused them to be displaced. America’s farmers and ranchers are in need of a consistent water supply and this legislation provides it.

 

Water Resource Projects

This Infrastructure spending will fund over 99 water resource projects involving construction, modification, expansion as well as studies by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These projects will increase employment opportunities in the communities where they take place. It is expected these projects will increase economic growth. They will make it possible to keep important waterways open.

This will result in it being easier for companies to ship their American products around the world. It will increase the ability of American companies to compete with other international businesses on a global scale.

 

Safe Drinking Water

This bipartisan legislation is considered one of the most important drinking water laws to be enacted in over twenty years. An old program that made it possible for states to borrow money to maintain or build a drinking water system was reauthorized. It also creates and establishes programs designed to help communities around the country deal with any level of drinking water contamination. It is understood that unhealthy levels of lead in Flint, Michigan’s water was avoidable. This legislation expands programs designed to eliminate lead from the drinking fountains located in schools and more.

In a rare feat of camaraderie, both Democrats and Republicans agree that legislation like the Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 proves both sides can work together on important issues that impact all Americans. This legislation is considered a win for America’s environment, families, and the economy.

 

How SCADA Systems Help with Infrastructure Improvements

A large part of the challenge involved in maintaining, upgrading, and developing new water infrastructure lies in the effective monitoring of both equipment and operations. This includes having the ability to quickly detect where improvements can be made. SCADA can help.

A cloud-based SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) not only provides this luxury, but it also enables system operators to understand how their system is functioning. Additionally, it will automatically send alarm notifications when an issue is detected. This ensures that water and wastewater companies are providing the best service and product possible to their customers.

High Tide Technologies provides cloud-based SCADA solutions that integrate advanced telemetry hardware with the most comprehensive software package in the industry. Through a secure client portal, operators have remote access to all the data they need to understand and effectively optimize their water and wastewater systems.

Water Meter SCADA System

Water Resource Management for Utilities

Water resource management is not only environmentally conscious, but it’s also fiscally responsible. For water utilities, minimizing water waste is a major concern that can drastically affect the bottom line. For them, water is money, meaning water leaks are literally money down the drain.

Proper management of water resources can be challenging because municipal water companies operate hundreds of miles of water main (sometimes thousands of miles). They need the ability to maintain the functionality of their equipment while accurately monitoring data that is crucial to operations. Effectively and efficiently managing these resources requires a proper zone metering solution.

 

What is Zone Metering?

Simply put, zone metering is a solution that allows water companies to segment their entire system into zones. This allows operators to access and analyze location-specific data, as well as respond to alarms more efficiently. A zone metering solution is beneficial for several reasons.

 

Benefits of Water Metering in Zones

In an effort to minimize costly leaks and better gauge water usage in specific sectors, many water utilities have to implement a custom zone metering system. Zone metering enables water companies to quickly detect leaks and respond to equipment alarms in isolated areas. This saves time and money by improving efficiency.

Additionally, zone-based water metering enables water operators to collect and analyze data on specific aspects of their system, for example, water usage. This information can save water utility companies money in the short-term and the long-term by protecting current company resources and providing data that helps scale future growth.

The notion of zone metering only tells half the story. For zone metering to be most effective, the addition of a cloud-based SCADA system is necessary to bring it all together.

 

SCADA System for Water Companies

SCADA stands for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition. It facilitates data analysis of industrial systems while providing remote control functionality. For water companies, a custom zone metering solution that delivers data through cloud-based SCADA helps them to learn about the health of their equipment. It also helps them learn about the functionality of their system.

High Tide Technologies provides comprehensive SCADA solutions that deliver real-time data through the use of a secure client portal. SCADA solutions provide insight into preventive equipment maintenance, pump run, drain times, fill times, and more. Additionally, the system sends alarm notifications that signal equipment failures or high water usage.

High Tide’s custom SCADA solutions enable water system operators to remotely monitor location-specific data. This helps to improve system functions while minimizing water waste. In the old days of water distribution, an employee had to physically inspect sites to collect data. SCADA solutions eliminate the tedium and inefficiencies of trial and error diagnosis by providing water system operators with precise data about every single component of their system.

E/One Partners with High Tide Technologies for Sentry Advisor 2.0

Client Portal Adds New Dimension for Sewer System Operators

E/One partners with High Tide Technologies to strengthen telemetry monitoring capabilities of ALL-TERRAIN SEWER™

 

New Orleans, LA: WEFTEC is the Water Environment Federation Technical Exposition & Conference. It is the largest annual water quality event in the world. At this year’s conference, Environment One Corporation (E/One) and High Tide Technologies announced a partnership that will result in E/One Sentry Advisor 2.0.

 

The upgrade will enhance the remote monitoring capabilities of E/One’s industry-leading grinder pumps through the use of a secure client portal, maximizing equipment functionality and operator efficiency.

 

E/One president Eric LaCoppola said, “We’re seeing Smart Sewer’s future here at WEFTEC 2018 and its name is E/One Sentry Advisor 2.0 with HTT inside. High Tide Technologies’ strategic partnership with E/One represents the next step in the evolution of ‘Extreme Customer Satisfaction.’ Combine the industry’s best telemetry package with the most rugged, longest-lasting grinder pumps driving the ALL-TERRAIN SEWER™ from E/One, and I’m convinced we’ve entered a new era of Eco-Innovation.”

 

David B. Mundie, PhD., president of High Tide Technologies, shares LaCoppola’s enthusiasm, “We’re excited about our partnership with the leader in the market. Our 16 years of cloud-based SCADA experience, combined with E/One’s top-of-the-line hardware, will provide tremendous value to customers for many years into the future.”

 

SCADA Monitoring for Grinder Pump

 

About Environment One Corporation

E/One is an operating company of Precision Castparts Corp., a worldwide manufacturer of complex metal parts and industrial products. PCC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A). With corporate headquarters in New York and regional offices and distribution throughout the industrialized world, E/One is a manufacturer and provider of products and services for the disposal of residential sanitary waste. Additionally, they provide utility systems for the protection and performance optimization of electric utility assets.

 

About High Tide Technologies, LLC

High Tide Technologies is a cloud-based SCADA company that enables customers to monitor and control their systems from anywhere. This simple and secure solution uses field units, satellite, cellular or Ethernet, and the Internet to monitor and provide automatic control of industrial systems. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, they have over 7,000 units in the field and over 800 active customers.

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.

Automated Reporting For Wastewater Operators

It is no secret that automating processes leads to efficiency. When machines do things by themselves, they perform tasks faster, better, and with almost no errors. This is what leads to increased productivity and much lower costs of production.

This tenant holds true for almost every discipline under the sun and is finally catching up with wastewater treatment. Lack of proper monitoring equipment or techniques can often lead to less than desirable test results for the management companies. And due to the pressures of remaining operational, ethics may be put aside, and reports falsified.

 

Wastewater Scandal in Fitchburg, Massachusetts

One example is in the case of the president of a private wastewater treatment and engineering facility in Fitchburg MA. He was found guilty of falsifying wastewater samples and test results. The judge sentenced him to three years’ probation, a $19,500 fine, 50 hours of community service, and a four-month suspension of his operating licenses.

If you are a plant operator, utilizing automation can ensure compliance with the Department of Environmental Protection regulations.

 

Wastewater Treatment Plant Automation

The automation of processes within wastewater treatment plants yield higher levels of efficiency and reliability. This helps operators realize a better quality of treated water. Automated designs self-diagnose and recommend the necessary interventions, which enables the facility’s managers to take preemptive measures, either directly or by contracting a water technology firm. Automating processes sees to better resource management as personnel usually tasked with overseeing pipe valves, and leaks, instrumentation equipment, and electrical systems are freed up for other crucial endeavors.

This is especially critical at a time when some places are experiencing a shortage of skilled operators due to many of the industry’s workers nearing retirement. Moreover, the training of new operating personnel tends to put emphasis on being familiar with device interfaces, instead of the diagnosis of issues surrounding mechanical equipment.

 

How SCADA Has Changed Treatment Plant Monitoring

Customizable control hardware and software systems for wastewater treatment are currently available and can be integrated into the existing treatment technologies to boost operational efficiency, and thus, water quality. This software optimizes the performance of processes using real-time monitoring and control. This enables the plant operator to know the actual conditions in the treatment process, instead of relying on guesses and cooking up results.

Additionally, such software stabilizes processes hence helping to avoid common pitfalls such as excess treatment or excessive energy expenditure. These process performance optimizers typically adapt to the dynamic conditions in order to guarantee high effluent quality while consuming energy as minimally as possible.

Compliance monitoring has relied on lab measurements of composite samples for a long time. However, online analytical instruments are increasingly being utilized to do these measurements. This allows for continuous process control, minimization of chemical and energy usage, and avoiding conditions that lead to upsets in the process. Additionally, the constant monitoring enhances decision making while reducing the burden of having to manually sample and measure process parameters multiple times throughout the day.

In addition to promoting the need for lower costs of operations, these technologies are enabling wastewater managers to meet the stringent regulations set by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Wastewater treatment plans are one of the most vital links towards promoting a secure water future. Over a third of the global population suffers from water scarcity at least one month every year. With that, there is an increasing need for innovations that will ensure water security. Utilizing smart water technologies should help facilitate intelligent operations that will go a long way in enhancing efficiency, compliance with standards, and better water quality.

 

High Tide Technologies

High Tide Technologies is an end-to-end cloud-based SCADA company which utilizes satellite, cellular, and Ethernet communications as well as field units and the internet to monitor and control systems automatically. Our SCADA monitoring systems will help you have detailed insight into the various processes which will not only allow you to achieve higher quality but also ensure that you do not break any regulations.

The Expanding SCADA Marketplace

The global marketplace for SCADA monitoring has expanded exponentially over the last several years and continues to grow at a competitive rate. More and more water treatment and wastewater treatment plants are recognizing the value of cloud-based SCADA monitoring, and paying the upfront cost to upgrade their systems with the understanding that long-term gain will prevail. Several larger companies have begun introducing SCADA systems into their existing product line in an effort to capitalize on the growing interest in the potential of SCADA systems. The frenzy is on.

 

The Driving Force Behind SCADA Growth

A large reason for the rapid growth of SCADA monitoring systems is the investment in infrastructure being made by the industrial sector. Namely, the water and wastewater industries. Both industries are having to update treatment plants and operation procedures to meet changing guidelines and regulations. Cloud-based SCADA systems offer an efficient workflow in addition to providing live data and measurements to operators. The advantages of increased efficiency is the other driving force behind the increased adoption of SCADA systems.

Many governments are incentivizing the adoption of technological improvements for the water and wastewater industries. Due to the encouragement of upgrading the processes of monitoring and regulating these services, many treatment plants have taken a dive into the future of cloud-based SCADA monitoring. Although, there are still many holdouts. Updating your entire system requires a hefty investment in equipment, design, and training. The holdouts are unlikely to last long. The initial investment of this system upgrade is offset by the long-term potential of a SCADA monitoring system to save money over time – through efficiency and accuracy.

 

The Future of SCADA

By 2025, the market potential for SCADA systems in the water and wastewater industries is expected to double. A SCADA system consists of multiple components: hardware, software, and service. Each of these components presents a unique opportunity for businesses. Manufacturing hardware, software development, and providing initial and ongoing service to treatment plants are all unique market segments that could allure businesses with differing areas of expertise. New players in the SCADA game will undoubtedly emerge, and existing players will double down on their efforts to continue offering the highest quality products and services.

 

High Tide Technologies: Cloud-Based SCADA Monitoring

High Tide Technologies is an end-to-end cloud-based SCADA company that enables our users to create a complete SCADA solution that utilizes field units, satellite, cellular or Ethernet communications as well as the Internet to monitor and provides automatic control of your systems.

Talking Telemetry for Utilities with Dr. David Mundie

The field of telemetry has skyrocketed in growth via digital and cellular-based technology. But where do smaller, more budget-conscious providers fit in? We talked with Dr. David Mundie, Founder and President of High Tide Technologies, about some of the issues facing utility providers, and how telemetry fits into the modern landscape.

 

You can read the entire interview here.

 

High Tide: Thanks for chatting with us. Before we dive in, can you give readers some background on High Tide Technologies?

 

David Mundie: Thanks for having me. Back in 2002, I was working with a civil engineer at a dot-com company that went under. He knew the wastewater market really well and I, as an electrical engineer, knew telemetry really well. So we took what we both did best, knew there was a need, and decided to start High Tide Technologies.

 

HT: What problem did you see and set out to fix with High Tide?

 

DM: We specifically started the company to focus on rural, small- to medium-sized utility systems, those who could not afford the more sophisticated monitoring and control equipment, which led to basically doing a lot of things manually. What we’re able to provide is a solution that’s simple to install, no software or hardware to maintain in the collections doesn’t involve a big server (because it’s all Internet-based), and has full 24/7 support. Smaller utilities are on-call 24/7 but can’t necessarily be at the plant to look at a screen. Instead, they can check their levels from anywhere and feel good that things are still working. We’re right there with them, any time. It’s peace of mind.

 

HT: What kinds of problems are utilities and municipalities coming to High Tide to solve?

 

DM: In the wastewater world, there are all sorts of environmental regulations to stop overflow and spoil the environment. Most states require that someone drives by and looks at the unit once a day. When you have telemetry, you don’t have to physically visit; you can access the information before you get there, which cuts down on overtime and makes the system run more smoothly.

On the water side, we’ve been in stations that had no telemetry, and to monitor everything, they drive down the road and see that the target on the tank is low, flip the switch, and hope to remember later to switch it off. They have water loss from leaving it on too long and overflowing the tank. The state [government] does a lot of regulation on water loss, but also has the problem with tanks that are too low, and not having enough in the hydrants to fight a fire. But having a system that is automatically controlled can eliminate all those problems.

 

HT: So telemetry helps keep levels accurate, and helps the whole operation run more efficiently. Can you give an example?

 

DM: Sure. We had one customer who had 40% of the water produced lost somehow. They measured this by adding up water billed from meters at customer sites compared to what meters at the plant say and the numbers didn’t match at all. After installing one of our monitoring and control products, they got it down to 30% within a couple of months and it keeps improving the more time goes on, refining their system. Loss numbers like that affect funding for plant expansions, budgets, etc. Telemetry helps solve those mysteries.

 

HT: Why would a municipality or utility board choose High Tide? What’s the benefit?

 

DM: The thing about our stuff is that there is no custom programming and we can get a system up and running within a week or two. A typical SCADA system is customer-specific. The way we do it, everybody is sharing the resources. We make the same box for everybody, in different sizes. And we can ship it the next day after the order is placed so the customer can be up and running fairly quickly, probably within a week or so. It’s less expensive because there is no central server they have to maintain and staff. Our solutions are about one-third to one-fourth the cost of traditional radio systems or phone dialers, which is helpful for stricter budgets or smaller municipalities.

We do have subscription service that’s like a rental service fee for the system and even if we take 10 years of fees, our systems are still less expensive than traditional because traditional systems need maintenance, and that gets costly. Customers benefit from getting accurate data in real-time, which allows them to provide their service efficiently and effectively.

To read the entire interview with David Mundie and learn more about the future developments for telemetry and SCADA systems for utility service providers, click here.

Full Interview with David Mundie, President of High Tide Technologies

The field of telemetry for utilities has skyrocketed with the growth and usage of digital and cellular-based technology. But where do the smaller or budget-conscious providers fit in? We talked with Dr. David Mundie, Founder and President of High Tide Technologies, about some of the issues facing utility providers and mid-size municipalities, how telemetry fits into the modern landscape, how the SCADA marketplace is expanding, and some of the latest ideas in development for the future.

 

High Tide: Thanks for chatting with us. Before we dive, can you give readers some background on High Tide Technologies?

 

David Mundie: Thanks for having me. Back in 2002, I was working with a civil engineer at a dot.com company that went under. He knew the wastewater market really well and I, as an electrical engineer, knew telemetry really well. So we took what we both did best, knew there was a need, and decided to start High Tide Technologies.

 

HT: What problem did you see and set out to fix with High Tide?

 

DM: We specifically started the company to focus on rural, small- to medium-sized utility systems, those who could not afford the more sophisticated monitoring and control equipment, which led to basically doing a lot of things manually. What we’re able to provide is a solution that’s simple to install, no software or hardware to maintain in the collections, and doesn’t involve a big server (because it’s all Internet-based), and has full 24/7 support. Smaller utilities are on-call 24/7 but can’t necessarily be at the plant to look at a screen. Instead, they can check their levels from anywhere and feel good that things are still working. We’re right there with them, any time. It’s peace of mind.

 

HT: What kinds of problems are utilities and municipalities coming to High Tide to solve?

 

DM: In the wastewater world, there are all sorts of environmental regulations [to stop] overflow and spoil the environment. Most states require that someone drives by and looks at the unit once a day. When you have telemetry, you don’t have to physically visit; you can access the information before you get there, which cuts down on overtime and makes the system run more smoothly.

On the water side, we’ve been in stations that had no telemetry and to monitor everything, they drive down the road and see that the target on the tank is low, flip the switch, and hope to remember later to switch it off. They have water loss from leaving it on too long and overflowing the tank. The state [government] do a lot of regulation on water loss, but also have the problem with tanks too low and not enough to fight a fire in the hydrants. But having a system that is automatically controlled can eliminate all those problems.

 

HT: So telemetry helps keep levels accurate, and helps the whole operation run more efficiently. Can you give an example?

 

DM: Sure. We had one customer who had 40% of the water produced lost somehow. They measured this by adding up water billed from meters at customer sites compared to what meters at the plant say and the numbers didn’t match at all. And after installing one of our monitoring and control products, they got it down to 30% within a couple of months and it keeps improving the more time goes on, refining their system. Loss numbers like that affect funding for plant expansions, budgets, etc. Telemetry helps solve those mysteries.

 

HT: Why would a municipality or utility board choose High Tide? What’s the benefit?

 

DM: The thing about our stuff is that there is no custom programming and we can get a system up and running within a week or two. A typical SCADA system is customer-specific. The way we do it, everybody is sharing the resources. We make the same box for everybody, in different sizes. And we can ship it the next day after the order is placed so [the customer] can be up and running fairly quickly, probably within a week or so. It’s less expensive because there is no central server they have to maintain and staff. Our solutions are about one-third to one-fourth of the cost of traditional (typically radio systems or phone dialers), which is helpful for stricter budgets or smaller municipalities.

We do have subscription service that’s like a rental service fee for the system and even if we take 10 years of fees, our systems are still less expensive than traditional because traditional systems need maintenance, and that gets costly.

 

HT: And High Tide systems don’t need maintenance?

 

DM: We think that the easier you can make it, the users can do their own maintenance instead of calling a technician for $1000 to fix it. We ship a lot of spare parts and people can service it themselves, even if they’re not technical. We provide 24/7 support. Big municipalizes have that but small municipalities need that kind of help. Their radio supplier won’t do that.

Sometimes municipalities have different systems in place or more piecemeal set-up. We can do a mix and match of products and parts—whatever the municipality needs. It all reports back to the server and the server doesn’t care what the data comes from. Customers benefit from getting accurate data in real-time, which allows them to provide their service efficiently and effectively.

 

HT: The Internet of Things is a fast-evolving idea that is quickly coming to fruition in products like smart homes, self-driving cars, and cloud-based SCADA. What do you see for the future of the IoT technology, both positive notes, and negative ones?  

 

DM: The positive side is it drives down the cost of doing more sophisticated monitoring and control the hardware is going down, the cost of communications is going down, which makes it more cost-effective.

On the negative side, computers crash and you’re depending on the company to turn on and off the tank. All these stations have manual overrides so people have to revert to what they did before equipment.

The nice thing about our systems, there’s not a single point of failure. You might lose one tank one pipe, but not the whole system. We try to retain redundancies on our server farm. We have customers have lighting hit and we can do tweaks to their controls until that unit is repaired.

If the tank is fried by lighting, we put timers on the pump station—which is based on history since we have that data—and we can go days and keep things maintained and if usage changes, it might be a little off, but not completely dead.

 

HT: What trends do you see unfolding that makes you excited for the future of your business/industry?

 

DM: Utilities are getting more sophisticated in the preventative maintenance areas. Equipment used to run until the pump died then they’d replace the pump but it’s cheaper to repair than replace. We’re getting more sophisticated with the data we collect so [utilities] can start doing predictive analysis and see the performance over time and know when to service it before it fails completely. One of the big things that telemetry lets you do is collect, monitor, and control in real time. In the past, someone had to do the analysis by hand (via graphs) but the software on the servers’ analyzes the data and can alert to an upcoming repair before it fails, which saves time, money, and energy, and manpower.

Some of our utilities really think about the cost and budgeting and want to know and utilize all their options. I mean, there are $30,000 pumps that cost only $5000 to repair it, as opposed to replacing completely.

 

HT: Anything else you can say about the state of telemetry in municipality infrastructures and utility service providers?

 

DM: There are a lot of changes happening right now in the Internet of Things market because the cellular companies are adding stuff to go after this new market, looking for ways to adapt and changing the way the markets work. It’s a lot of small connections using just a little bit of data as opposed to a few connections that use a lot of data and It really affects cellular companies; they can’t make money if they don’t make X amount per modem but they’re not going to sell the millions of them at the price they need. For example, we want 2GB for our movies on our phones, but the sensor in the pump only needs a few bytes every 5-10 minutes. This new market is disrupting their pricing strategies. And affects how we design the future equipment.

Untracked Wastewater Spills No Longer an Issue with Telemetry Solutions

Oil spills are big news because they pose such large-scale environmental damage and clean-up cost. In 2105, energy and environment organization E&E news reported that only about half of the 2700 spills at Texas oil and gas sites were tracked, which had environmentalists wondering why, and more importantly, how it can be fixed.

According to the article, Texas, unlike other states, does not track spills of wastewater, but instead, only tracks spills of petroleum products, primarily crude oil. However, many critics insist that wastewater spills are more damaging. When spills are left unchecked and untracked, a disaster is waiting to happen.

Wastewater, sometimes called brine or produced water, contains crude oil fluids. Because it’s not being tracked, there’s no way to assess damage, seepage rates, or effects of a spill and clean-up. When there is a wastewater spill, unchecked amounts of crude oil remnants and other chemical run-off are seeping into the ground, affecting the health of people, livestock, and the land.

So, what can the government and the oil companies do to protect the people and the land? Luckily, this is the age of modern technology and the solution already exists. Telemetry—the wired or wireless transmission and reception of measured quantities for the purpose of remotely monitoring environmental conditions—monitors, tracks, records, and transmits any and all data relating to oil production.

What used to be a daunting exercise requiring loads of manpower and organized information sharing can now be done with the simple click of a mouse, from anywhere by anyone with access.

One aspect of telemetry that would be especially useful for oil companies dealing with wastewater spills is to implement a cloud-based SCADA system. SCADA, which stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, is the digital recording and monitoring of devices and equipment.

Once installed, a manager at an oil production plant could track and measure the levels of chemicals in by-products, like wastewater. If there was a spill or equipment failure, the SCADA unit would electronically alert personnel and trigger an immediate response, thus mitigating damage. Furthermore, management would have all the information at their fingertips for how to best handle the situation because they would know all the chemical data and levels at breach source; that knowledge would mean environmentally-safe clean-up decisions can be made quickly and effectively.

Under the current and inconsistent spill tracking process, if the spill is crude or condensate, and it is five barrels or more, the oil company must follow up with a specific form. This form (H-8) is often on spreadsheets, which need maintenance by personnel and is not a reliable source for data keeping. A cloud-based SCADA solution works by keeping all pertinent information in a digital cloud, thereby accessible anywhere there is an Internet connection. Engineers and plant managers can share accurate data instantaneously, in real time.

Protection of the public and the land must be the top priority for oil companies. Not only do current and future lives depend on the safe production and distribution of oil, but any reckless activity or neglectful behavior in the process can—and does—have dire consequences for the land. With telemetry systems in place, gone are the days of manual data transmission and inaccurate information. Telemetry allows companies to work smarter and safer.

Monitoring and Controlling Bypass Pumps with Cloud-Based SCADA

Milcrofton Utility District, located in Eastern Williamson County, Tennessee, provides clean drinking water to over 6,700 customers. The utility district maintains 232 miles of water mains, 13 water storage tanks, and 10 water pumping stations.

Dramatic population growth in this area necessitates creative solutions to keep up with demand. The Avalon Water Booster Station pumps to a water storage tank that services approximately 400 homes. Growth and irrigation use during the summer months left the existing pumps at this station undersized. Milcrofton Utility District determined the existing skid-mounted water booster pumps needed to be replaced. During installation of these new pumps, Milcrofton would need to utilize a bypass pump to provide continuous water service to the Avalon area.

During a 30-day construction period, the bypass pump would require a design condition provided by the Utility (500 gpm at 323′ TDH). This bypass pump would also require a telemetry system to ensure the Avalon Water Storage Tank would fill and drain appropriately. Adding this system to the bypass pump would reduce the need for on-site supervision and allow remote control, freeing up resources to work on the new installation. WASCON, Inc., representing

High Tide Technologies, was asked by Milcrofton Utility District to provide a proposal for the project. After reviewing the project conditions, a 6×4 diesel driven standard centrifugal pump was selected. This pump was fitted with a LOFA control panel ideal for pairing with the High Tide Technologies (HTT-1100) telemetry system.

High Tide Technologies, based in Nashville, TN, enables users to create a complete SCADA solution utilizing field units, satellite, cellular, or Ethernet communications as well as the Internet to monitor and provide automatic control. High Tide also offers a web-based software called TelemetryVIEW, allowing the user to view data and initiate manual controls from any Internet-connected computer or mobile device.

For the Milcrofton project, HTT-1100 units were installed at the Avalon tank and on the bypass pump at the Avalon booster station. Set points for when the pump would turn on and off were determined and programmed into High Tide’s TelemetryVIEW website. The HTT-1100 unit at the tank also provided water elevation data. David Pine, Application Engineer with WASCON stated, “I was most impressed by the ease of working with HTT and how quickly the site could be customized to meet the customer’s needs.” Milcrofton Utility District had a solution in place that both avoided service interruption and decreased the need for on-site supervision.

 

Monitoring and Controlling Bypass Pumps with Cloud-Based SCADA

 

A week into the project, a local resident requested that operation of the bypass pump be limited during night hours. David Mundie, President of High Tide, was notified of the request. After a simple programming modification and installation of a relay unit at the HTT-1100 on-site, the bypass pump would no longer operate between 11 P.M. and 7 A.M. without manual override. Mundie says, “Traditional SCADA requires a lot of infrastructure to function, which would not be available at a temporary site. Because of the ease of installation and the nature of our various communication options, cloud-based SCADA enabled the customer to keep automatic controls functioning even with their system in a bypass mode.”

Milcrofton Utility District also had access to TelemetryVIEW, which allowed them to view the status, run-times, suction/discharge pressure, tank elevation, and control the bypass pump from any Internet-connected computer or mobile device. According to Mike Jones, General Manager of Milcrofton Utility District, “High Tide Technologies is user-friendly, has customizable features, and a very fast field response over our existing radio system. The experience of a fast and knowledgeable service partner, combined with High Tide Technologies, was a perfect combination.”

Cloud-based SCADA provided Milcrofton Utility District with a simple solution during the 30-day construction period. Continuous water service and reduced manpower enabled Milcrofton to better serve the residents of Williamson County during a time of rising demand.