The Emerging Role of Augmented Reality in Wastewater Treatment

Municipal water systems are always looking for ways to increase efficiency. Embracing new technology can lead to fewer service disruptions, lower emergency repair costs, and a better customer experience. Augmented reality tools will change how water utilities approach maintenance, training, and customer relations.

What Is Augmented Reality?

There’s frequent confusion between AR and VR. Virtual reality is an immersive experience where the user views a digital world through a headset and controllers. The virtual world they see is entirely different from the physical world where they are standing.

AR involves resources that enhance and inform the user about the physical world. A technician wearing a set of AR glasses might see a digital overlay that explains the purpose of the different buttons on a control board.

Using Augmented Reality in Field Service

A repair call in an extensive water system may require significant travel time. The need for a specialist can delay the process even further. However, bringing augmented reality to field service calls can make a difference. AR tools allow an expert to view the situation from a remote location.

Digital instructions are another resource for repair teams. When they identify the problem, a heads-up display shows them the steps needed to fix it. They can perform this work without taking their eyes off the equipment to glance at a screen.

Augmented Reality for Testing and Planning

Expansions and other construction projects are expensive propositions. No one wants to break ground without extensive planning. Augmented reality testing and planning tools help professionals and residents visualize proposals and identify potential issues.

AR and Water System Training

Many industries have discovered the benefits of incorporating AR tools into training new employees. When a new person comes on board, the organization wants them actively working as soon as possible. Augmented reality helps employees transition from simulations to practical work. An AR overlay will show them the purpose of every button or switch on a piece of equipment. The new trainee can also view step-by-step instructions to handle routine and unusual tasks.

AR for Monitoring Wastewater Treatment Service

Measurements like flow rate and water pressure require constant monitoring in a wastewater treatment facility. Technicians will also need to know real-time information about water quality, such as the total dissolved solids level. An AR display can provide this information anywhere within the facility. It can also show data about normal historical levels, comparing them to current readings. The sooner someone recognizes a problem, the faster the wastewater treatment service can get back to normal.

Gamification: The Consumer Side of AR

Customers depend on a reliable supply of clean water. However, heavy demand affects the performance of the whole system. In areas with chronic water shortages, conservation is a critical issue.

AR resources are helping consumers understand the effects of their personal choices around water use in real-time. Gamified apps then offer badges and other virtual awards to encourage their efforts. A similar arrangement in the United Kingdom is helping explain the dangers of flushing fat, grease, and wipes into the sewer system.

SCADA Systems, AR, and Water Systems

SCADA technology can go hand in hand with AR innovations. In a supervisory control and data acquisition system, sensors throughout the pipeline or treatment plant send real-time information to a central location. From there, technicians can adjust settings to maintain ideal performance levels. As more AR technology comes online, the SCADA system will provide the information for digital overlays used in training, testing, and monitoring.

High Tide Technologies builds SCADA systems for municipal water collection, treatment, and distribution organizations. Our team uses a cloud-based model that allows remote access from any location. Contact us today for more information about our innovative approach to SCADA and the intersection of SCADA and augmented reality in wastewater treatment.