A vital business for every community is the water and wastewater utility. Providing safe, reliable water to consumers and businesses and safely treating wastewater is paramount for the health of the community.
In a Water & Wastes Digest (WWD) video interview, The Benefits of Automation for Water & Wastewater Utilities, Emerson’s Pete Gabor highlights the role of automation in accomplishing this important mission. WWD’s Bob Crossen hosts this interview.
Bob opens the interview asking Pete to share some of the high-level benefits that automation brings to these utilities. Pete describes three key areas—safely reducing costs, reduce risk and maximize uptime for the process and the process equipment. Automation enables operators to focus on higher level tasks while it performs the repeatable tasks when required. It provides support for the workflows to keep the process operating efficiently and reliably.
Costs for electricity, chemicals and other components required need to be optimized. Also in many areas experienced plant staff are retiring requiring more of the knowledge to become embedded in the automation systems.
When asked about implementing these systems, Bob noted that it’s not just about the technology but about designing the human interactions and work processes to effectively use the technology. The most successful projects have broad participation among the stakeholders to make sure the disparate viewpoints are considered and that these are reflected early in the project. The later these changes occur the greater the impact on project costs and schedule.
Pete explained that stakeholders now come from many non-traditional operations roles, such as data scientists requesting data sets. Another area is documentation. Traditionally it has been paper-based and not widely accessible by those who need access to it. Examples include standard operating procedures (SOPs) and instrumentation wiring drawings. Today’s systems, such as Emerson’s Ovation distributed control system can link together on-line these various repositories of documentation to make retrieval when needed much faster and simpler.
Pete highlighted the need to plan for the future since these systems continue to advance and require updates. Standards and best practices are important in managing changes over time as well.
Listen to the full interview for more on machinery health as part of the automation system to drive improved equipment reliability, methods to drive improvements in efficiency and reliability, and how the automation system provides general guidance for operators.
Visit the Ovation Distributed Control System section on Emerson.com for more on ways this system can help drive safer, more efficient, and more reliable operations for water and wastewater utilities.