Public utilities are in a sorry state in many U.S. cities, no more so than in the water and wastewater sectors. Due to restricted spending and the “invisible” nature of the problems related to the water industry, investment has been deferred for years and the infrastructure has been bereft of the care and attention it so desperately needs.
One recent study revealed water loss as high as 46% between the water source and its destination – an alarming figure by any measure. If towns and cities in the United States are leaking almost as much water as they are supplying, what is is to be done to secure a more sustainable future for this precious resource?
The saviour of the water and wastewater industries?
The light at then end of the tunnel is the real-time data and analytics provided by the Industrial Internet of Things (the IIoT).
With a straightforward installation of sensors in key locations and connection of these sensors to the Cloud, real-time data can be analysed to identify the infrastructure’s main leak points.
Once identified, the municpiality’s limited resources can be focused to address the issue: budgets can be alloted, upgrades can be scheduled and maintenance teams deployed.
More than preventing leaking wastewater
But introducing the IIoT into water and wastewater infrastructure goes far beyond this “plugging the holes” remedial work.
Additionally, sensors can gather data on water quality, flow rates and equipment performance. If problems arise, the near real-time data can be acted upon more swiftly, allowing engineering teams to respond faster to remedy leakage, loss of pressure or to mitigate the risk of catastrophic failure.
How IIoT deployment becomes the industry’s crystal ball
As well as a faster reactive model, the IIoT offers the additional and much greater benefit of predictive insights.
Component parts all have a pre-determined working life and by monitoring the data on their working hours, spares inventory precurement and part replacement work can be scheduled in a far more efficient and cost effective manner.
Moreover, the predictive advantage of IIoT pretty much guarantees indefinite continuation of service.
Additionally, over time the data can be used for longer term improvements like more accurate usage forecasting or for system expansion planning.
Easy of use by monitoring using existing devices
Remote monitoring of the water/wastewaster system using IIoT is simple because it requires no custom hardware or dedicated devices. Public works departments can monitored their system from every day devices such as tablets and smartphones.
The IIoT is also flexible enough to provide different users with different levels of access to cater for the specific and varied needs of everyone from C-level executives to maintanence teams.
The IIoT road ahead for water/wastewater departments
Although many public works professionals are aware of the benefits of deploying the IIoT, there is some way to go before awareness of the enormous advantage of IIoT reaches the mainstream and the ears of the voting public.
Full adoption requires bold decisions from city and municipal leaders to make IIoT a priority on their planning roadmap, commit to an overhaul of current infrastructure and to make the right investments to ensure an intelligent and robust water/wasterwater system is in place for the future.
Taking your first steps towards IIoT deployment?
Check out the Zen IoT Cloud Gateway for a simple way to begin connecting your equipment to the Cloud.