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.

SCADA Basics: An Introduction to SCADA Systems & Telemetry Monitoring

SCADA and telemetry work in tandem to provide a combination of data acquisition, analysis, storage, and reporting. Additionally, SCADA systems allow operators to monitor and control system command functions from a remote location.

It’s a powerful blend of hardware and software technologies that improves efficiency, cost, and productivity across various industries. But before we get too deep into the applications of SCADA systems and telemetry monitoring, let’s start with the basics.

 

What is Telemetry?

Telemetry is a data acquisition technology that allows for the remote recording, transmission, and reporting of information. The process is primarily accomplished through the use of a telemetry unit (or telemetry system) that communicates wirelessly through a category of software known as SCADA (more on this shortly). It is worth noting that this process isn’t exclusively wireless and can also be done using telephones and computer networks.

Telemetry monitoring makes it possible for useful measurements to be sent and received remotely. It is an efficient, real-time solution for monitoring environmental conditions and equipment functionality.

The benefit of telemetry monitoring is that it provides immediate access to the most relevant information needed to make data-informed decisions. Due to the remote capabilities of this technology, data and measurements can simultaneously be available to decision makers, operators, and engineers.

For the ultra-nerdy linguists out there, the Greek origins of the word “telemetry” are rooted in “tele” (remote) and “metron” (measure).

 

What is SCADA?

SCADA is an acronym that stands for “Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition”. A SCADA system is an amalgamation of software and hardware that integrates with control systems. It is essentially a multi-faceted computer system that collects and analyzes data while providing remote control functionality for high-level processes.

SCADA systems monitor and control plants (such as a water treatment plant) and other complex systems that are spread out over large geographic areas. They do this by allowing for supervisory operation over a number of devices. Industries that make use of this technology include water distribution, wastewater management, telecommunications, energy, transportation, and gas and oil refining.

 

SCADA System Components

Remote Terminal Unit (RTU)

A remote terminal unit (RTU) is used to monitor and control a variety of devices and systems, usually in an industrial environment. They are similar to a programmable logic circuit (PLC) but have more in-depth functionality. These intelligent controllers assert supervisory control over other devices in order to automate industrial processes.

Radio/Modems

This allows for the transfer of data (usually wireless) across a large geographic area. A key component of a SCADA system is the ability to send and receive real-time data. Radio/modems are an efficient and reliable mode of accomplishing this feat.

Sensor/Transducers

A sensor is a type of transducer that can receive a signal from a physical system. It communicates information through the use of telemetry (and a control system). The sensor in a SCADA system serves to help operators measure and collect data from a remote location.

Repeaters

Repeaters receive and retransmit signals. They are able to transmit signals over large distances, even with the presence of a physical obstruction.

SCADA Master Station

In small SCADA systems, the master station is a single computer that communicates with controls systems and other equipment. In larger SCADA systems, this can include multiple servers, software applications, remote terminal units (RTUs), and programmable logic circuits (PLCs).

SCADA Monitoring Software

SCADA Monitoring Software is a simply a set of data instructions that instructs the system how to interact with all of the hardware and other components. It is a way to easily monitor and control the performance of a SCADA system.

Human Machine Interface (HMI)

The human-machine interface (HMI), as the name suggests, allows human personnel to interact with the hardware and software of a SCADA system. The HMI presents live data and measurements to operators and allows for the remote operation of the plant.

 

Types of SCADA & Telemetry Units

Wired

  • Usually in a plant
  • Ethernet, dial-up phone lines and leased lines to remote sites
  • Landline phone dialers

Wireless

  • In-plant wireless networks like WIFI or Zigbee
  • Point-to-point radio networks with repeaters (licensed and unlicensed)
  • Cellular networks (ATT, Verizon, Sprint, …)
  • Satellite networks (Iridium, Orbcomm, Inmarsat)

Polled

  • Report by exception
  • Monitor only ONE-WAY
  • Monitor and control/configure TWO-WAY

Hybrid

  • Combines one or more of the previous unit types

 

SCADA System Uses

Plants

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) or large SCADA programs read statuses and control the treatment process. A PLC is a computer control system that monitors input devices and performs operations based on predefined parameters to control the functions of output devices.

Collections Systems

Alerts technicians and operators of pump and overflow alarms, enabling them to respond to situations with data-informed solutions. Other functions include system sizing and preventative maintenance information.

Distribution Systems

Allows operators to maintain appropriate tank levels, monitor flows, and pressures, and detect leaks throughout the system. SCADA systems collect real-time metrics and provide remote control functionality to the proper authorities.

 

Scada & Telemetry: Industrial Applications

  • Sewer lift stations
  • Large meters
  • Water tanks
  • Water booster stations, monitor, and control
  • Valve stations, monitoring, and control
  • Water treatment plants
  • Wastewater treatment plants
  • Raw water intake stations
  • Natural gas odor injectors and regulators

 

Examples of SCADA System Functions

Alarm Handling

  • Equipment Failures
  • Power Failures
  • Overflow avoidance
  • Leak detection

Operation Functions

  • Tank Level controls
  • Water usage monitoring

Maintenance

  • Tracking pump and valve performance
  • Water loss tracking

 

High Tide Technologies

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.