By 2030, demand for fresh water is projected to outpace supply by almost 40 percent. Water utilities are being challenged to operate more efficiently, lower operating costs, and enhance customer satisfaction. Water scarcity has become a universal issue and reducing nonrevenue water has reached critical mass at utilities worldwide. This is particularly true in arid regions that rely on costly desalinated water as their primary source of potable water. The utilities are turning to SCADA to increase operator efficiency, engineering efficiency, and process optimization, while also being more responsive to the needs of their customers.
The latest generation of SCADA platforms provide the capability to collect, sort, and analyze data quickly and display it on executive dashboards. A surge of new hardware and software technologies emerging in the industrial sector are disrupting the way systems are designed and organizations operate. Some of the key disruptive technologies being incorporated into SCADA systems include the cloud, virtualization, mobility, Big Data analytics, and other Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies.
Coming to IoT and data analytics, there are solution providers that use these platforms to drive change from two directions: gathering and analyzing data to improve production processes, and then using the aggregated data to create solutions with a good business value proposition. One such solution was presented by Ecolab's subsidiary Nalco at the recent ARC Industry Forum in Orlando.
An IoT-Based Approach
Using Microsoft Azure cloud to enhance its ability to deliver personalized services and drive innovation, Nalco can connect to thousands of sensors in facilities worldwide. Nalco’s 3D TRASAR platform for real-time water monitoring collects and analyzes real-time water usage data to improve efficiency and cut water, energy, and operational costs. The company is taking full advantage of the Microsoft Azure platform, including the Azure IoT Suite, to accelerate water scarcity solutions for customers across multiple industries around the world.
In addition to TRASAR, Ecolab has developed a Water Risk Monetizer that enables companies to quickly and easily assess how water availability and quality could impact their ability to operate, grow and generate profit. Water Risk Monetizer is also built on Microsoft Azure and assess water-related risks at a site and enterprise level. The tool can help end users make a better business case for proactive water management strategies and prioritize locations for investment based on water scarcity risk. In short, it helps customers understand the full value of water to their operation.
Microsoft Drastically Reduces Data Center Water Costs
Microsoft recently used the Water Risk Monetizer to help inform strategic water management decisions at its data center in San Antonio, Texas. The data center is located within the Leon Creek Watershed, an extremely water-stressed region which also presents water quality issues due to flooding, storms and stream bank erosion. Data from the Water Risk Monetizer revealed that the risk-adjusted value of Microsoft’s water use at this data center was more than 11 times greater than the current water bill presented by the San Antonio Water System. The numbers made the business case. Microsoft installed Nalco’s TRASAR, which enabled the plant to reliably use recycled water instead of potable water, saving Microsoft more than $140,000 in water costs and avoiding the use of 58.3 million gallons of potable water per year.
At the foundation level i.e the field device level, flow and level measurement devices, mainly ultrasonic flowmeters, are employed in the water & waste water industry to measure flow. Connecting the smart flowmeters with IoT is helping both industrial and commercial owners to track water usage, control quality of water and reduce costs to large extent. Data from these smart meters is sent to the controller, which is then sent to the cloud for further actions. Access to the cloud data via apps enables users to switch on/off the valve and track wastage as well as over consumption.