A new area of water resource control and digitalisation of the world of water is here. The so-called internet of things (IoT) is here to stay, and Hidroconta does not want to be left behind. Hence, the company develops IoT technology to connect water network assets: water meters, valves and sensors, and visualise them in a user-friendly web platform. Within their product range, we may highlight the next generation Deméter remote control system for water networks and network asset remote reading. We talk about it with María Ruano, in charge of Marketing at Hidroconta, specialised in business marketing.
Question: To start, please tell us about the Deméter System by Hidroconta and its applications in the water sector.
Answer: First I would like to thank iAgua for thinking about Hidroconta as an influential company in the water sector.
Hidroconta's Deméter System is a comprehensive remote control system for water networks. Initially based on the needs of irrigation associations, its purpose was to execute actions in irrigation networks based on their requirements, and afterwards analyse the water consumption data obtained.
We talk about a comprehensive system because Deméter has hardware technology to collect information and execute actions in different network assets, as well as software, which is the Deméter platform that processes all the information so it can be visualised simply and intuitively.
"Hidroconta's Deméter System is a comprehensive remote control system for water networks"
As we said earlier, at the beginning the development of the Deméter system focused chiefly on the agricultural environment; even so, given the system's versatility, and thanks to the fact that it has been developed in its entirety by Hidroconta's team, the system has been able to adapt to the different needs in urban environments.
Q: What are its main characteristics and how does the system work?
A: The Deméter System is a versatile system focused on two aspects. On one hand, we find the devices installed in the water network, which we connect to other equipment in the network, be it valves, meters or sensors to measure moisture, intrusion, etc. On the other hand, we have the software to visualise the data.
The devices installed in the network include a box with an internal battery, an antenna and a motherboard to allow it to work.
The battery in the Deméter equipment has a long life and is rechargeable, and the equipment is prepared to install a solar panel to recharge the battery and ensure it lasts.
These devices collect all the information and communicate through a server, using GPRS, radio or mixed technology, that is, combining both of them, according to the topology on the ground.
Once we have the information, we can see it represented in the second part of the Deméter System, the cloud application. One of the advantages of this system is the ability to operate valves remotely, to read consumption and water flow rates, generate reports, set up alarms or programme risks.
Q: How does the Deméter System differ from other remote management and telemetry systems in the market?
A: In the era of technology, wireless connectivity is a must; the Deméter System offers connectivity without wires, ensuring constant communications and data recording.
There are several options to transmit data from the device to the cloud. The device can be programmed to communicate every week, every day, every hour or constantly, depending on the needs at the facility.
Q: Of all the projects where the Deméter System has been used, which ones would you highlight due to their impact on water management?
A: All the projects associated to the Deméter System are noteworthy, since each one has its peculiarities, and, as we said earlier, the capacity of Hidroconta's team to adapt the system to each project's needs make each one of them special.
"In the era of technology, wireless connectivity is a must"
If we had to choose a specific one, I would talk in this case about the project in the BeniMellal region of Morocco. The project involves more than 4,000 ha of irrigated land and the management of 140 points remotely, which in turn control almost 1,500 pieces of equipment including meters and valves.
Q: Innovation and new technologies play an essential role in integrated water cycle management. How has Hidroconta adapted to this?
A: Hidroconta has been more than 35 years in the water sector. It started as a family business with a local scope, becoming later a company with more than seventy employees, with subsidiary companies in other countries, such as Hidroconta Maroc, and working in twenty-five countries in all continents. To get here, Hidroconta had to adapt to new technologies, seeing there was a need to incorporate innovation into its base products. With this objective in mind, it created a department of research, development and innovation, with engineers specialised in communications, software and hardware who innovate day in, day out.
Q: What are the additional benefits of using remote control for the operation and maintenance of water networks?
A: The main reason why the digitalisation of water networks is imperative is to control water consumption and be able to analyse the data the network provides in order to optimise water use.
"Hidroconta had to adapt to new technologies, seeing there was a need to incorporate innovation into its base products"
Furthermore, the installation of remote control enables visualising and managing potential leaks or breakdowns in the network, and taking action directly at the exact location, with no need to cut off the general supply, and saving on repair costs.
Q: Finally, let us look at the future; what are the business and development expectations for this type of technology solutions in the water sector?
A: At Hidroconta we believe this should not wait for the future, but should already be implemented.
We are already working with our eyes on the future; for example, with a mobile application to control water consumption in real time, such as in a second home which is difficult to travel to if you want to check that everything is OK, or to analyse leaks by estimating non revenue water.