Digital Transformation in Water and Wastewater Industry

by , | Mar 3, 2021 | Machine Automation


Access to fresh drinking water is paramount for life. The utilities that provide to the communities in which they operate are constantly challenges in performing this service.

In a Water & Wastes digest article, Digital Transformation is the Path to Smart Water Operations, Emerson’s Manish Sharma describes how modern technologies and improved work practices can help these utilities meet these challenges.

Manish opens noting that most:

…of the western world has the needed water facilities in place, but the infrastructure is aging. Physical piping and equipment are subject to failure, threatening the purity and availability of potable water. Older automation system architectures simply do not deliver the deep data needed to support analytics used for improving operations.

And population growth in some areas is:

…putting a strain on existing infrastructure and are a driver for enhanced water network performance. These factors are also driving increased adoption of water recycling and desalination.

Due to these challenges:

…water treatment and distribution operators are embarking on efforts to make new and existing operations smarter. The need for digital transformation in the industry is more acute than ever, with COVID-19 posing significant operational and maintenance challenges in terms of the need for workforce availability, remote operations capability, and faster responses to breakdowns or avoiding them altogether.

Manish highlights many areas where digitally transformative steps can occur. A few of these include using more intelligent instrumentation to provide richer context, cloud-connected data storage for easier accessibility by experts no matter where they are located, integrated visibility by many in the organization across geographic boundaries, multi-site data analytics, and more.

He shares the road to implementation with several progressive steps.

  • Monitor: Know the current system state
  • Diagnose: Understand causes and effects
  • Predict: Use the information to predict and avoid problems like equipment breakdowns or critical process deviations
  • Optimize: Use the information to improve efficiency
  • Learn: Learn how to forecast operational behaviors

Water & Wastes digest: Digital Transformation is the Path to Smart Water OperationsTo accomplish these steps, Manish recommends:

  • Identify the input/output (I/O) points to be monitored.
  • Identify or install instruments (preferably intelligent) to monitor these data points.
  • Incorporate edge controllers suitable for connecting to these data points and processing them, or communicating them to higher level systems.
  • Historize these data points as timestamped values, so they are available for analysis.

Read the article for much more including the role of edge automation and how it enhances instrumentation, control and analysis, and illustrating several examples to show how these water and wastewater utilities can tie it all together. Also available on this page is a 15-minute interview with Manish by Water & Wastes Digest Senior Managing Editor, Bob Crossen.

Visit the RX3i CPL410 Controller page on for how these edge controllers provide the foundation for Industrial Internet connectivity and digital transformation initiatives.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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