Since in 2015 the World Economic Forum in Davos described the water crisis as the world's main risk, this sector has been considered a strategic one. Subject to strong regulations, companies dedicated to the management and supply of water are forced to constantly invest in new technologies and treatment processes, not forgetting that they must guarantee the continuity of the service and the security - and cybersecurity - of their systems and facilities.
Staying at the forefront involves having systems that reduce operating costs, provide predictive analysis capabilities and support decision-making. This is where the Smart Water comes into play. It is not new, but it has been in recent years when this concept has come to light on a global scale. It focuses on the collection and interpretation of data to carry out all the processes that make up the water cycle.
Thus, more and more companies in the water sector are improving the efficiency, profitability and resilience of their plants thanks to integrated solutions that provide them with real-time information, proactive recommendations or even predictions about the behavior of the different elements of installation.
A good example of this is found in the wastewater treatment plant built by Veolia Water Technologies in Punta Gradelle, Italy.
The case of the Punta Gradelle plant, which serves 140,000 people, presented significant challenges, starting with its location within a tunnel and continuing with the great variability in the amount of water treated - from 2,500 to 8,500 m3 / h - due to seasonality. To solve these challenges; reduce CAPEX and OPEX expenses; guaranteeing continuity of service, reliability and safety, and complying with regulations, managers required a particularly sophisticated and flexible solution.
The Schneider Electric EcoStruxure platform and architecture proved to be the most appropriate, as it offered the required availability and flexibility. In addition, the proposed integrated medium voltage, low voltage and automation system improved the efficiency of the plant and provided high level control to its managers.
More and more companies in the water sector are improving the efficiency, profitability and resilience of their plants
Thus, the project consisted of a combination of Control System and Connected Products within EcoStruxure for Water and Wastewater architecture: distributed control system EcoStruxure Hybrid DCS, medium voltage and low voltage equipment, power meters and Altivar Process speed drives. In turn, Apps, Analytics and Services oriented to the energy and operational management of the plant were installed.
Specifically, the distributed control system EcoStruxure Hybrid DCS was one of the key points of the implementation, since it allowed to improve the management of the plant through powerful control and diagnosis. In addition, it reduced energy consumption and improved control of the treatment plant.
The future of the water sector goes through digitalization
Schneider Electric's solution allowed Veolia to increase the operating efficiency of the complex by more than 20% thanks to the integration of energy and process data, reduced response times, redundancy and interoperability of systems. In addition, the managers achieved an estimated saving of 15% in energy costs, a reduction in downtime and better traceability and reporting based on the complete availability of operational parameters and consumption data.
The project, which has been replicated at the Amalfi wastewater treatment plant, was presented at the 2017 Telecontrollo Forum in Italy, where it was recognized as the best network project.
Clearly, the future of the water sector goes through digitalization. Fully integrated, transverse and interoperable systems and predictive capabilities will transform the way companies in this field work. However, digital transformation not only tries to invest in technology, but also implies a cultural change in organizations and they must be aware of it. Having expert partners to help you capture, classify and interpret information is key to making the most of this new scenario.