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How the internet of things can transform your water network 

The water industry has undergone enormous changes in the past 20 years. Historically, it was normal to have a large team of operations staff to carry out time-consuming tasks like manual measurements to ensure plants and networks were running safely. Today, we are largely able to operate water treatment plants remotely, which is a boon to productivity, accuracy and efficiency.  

IoT connects digital objects such as sensors and flowmeters to the internet, turning them into ‘smart’ assets that can communicate with users and application systems. One such tool is Endress+Hauser’s cloud-based monitoring system, Netilion Water Network Insights. This solution allows for more efficient process control and optimized network management, taking water monitoring operations that were previously manual and inefficient and automating them, providing continuous reporting on their own status in real time. 

Planning and implementing large-scale IoT solutions is no simple task, but there are multiple ways that IoT can help the W/WW industry improve operational efficiency. The following are five of the most common use cases and areas where Netilion Water Network Insights can be utilized.


5 use cases for IoT technology in water network applications

5 use cases for IoT technology in water and waste/water networks

  1. Sewer level detection. Attending emergency callouts for sewer overflows can be both expensive to the local authority responsible and unpleasant for nearby inhabitants. Without a reliable method of sewer level measurement, these blockages are often unpredictable. By deploying a network of level sensors and integrating data into a cloud-based system, we can begin to form AI-based predictions and provide early warnings of sewer-blockage events. This enables action to be taken to avoid expensive overflows and achieve operational efficiency. 
  2. Industrial effluent monitoring. Controlled release of waste effluent from industrial users directly into a local sewage system is very common. However, few of these sites are equipped with water-quality sensors to provide an early indication of pollution. Typically, composite liquid samples are taken over a weekly period (or even longer) and measured in the lab. With this method, it’s easy to miss significant pollution events which may adversely influence a downstream wastewater treatment plant. Flow metering can also be incorporated into this system to provide load details and information for billing requirements. Water quality and flow sensors provide real-time (or near real-time) data to a centrally managed system, allowing operators to locate the source and predict the spread of pollution events from industrial sites. 
  3. Potable water storage and transmission. Drinking water is our most precious resource and should be protected, stored and transported safely. Potable water leakage detection has thus become a significant use case for the IoT. Smart sensors can be deployed across the network to feed data into a system providing real-time warnings of leakage events, ensuring they are rapidly corrected. While early warning of a leakage event is obviously beneficial, extensive pressure or flow monitoring of the water distribution network can also identify areas requiring rehabilitation before a burst occurs. With predictive maintenance, unplanned network shutdowns can be avoided leading to significant cost savings. 
  4. Groundwater monitoring. Developing a standard for metering groundwater abstracted from river basins has been a key issue in recent years. Not only do technicians need to accurately monitor flow, dam levels and bore levels, they require a reliable method to remotely transmit data to a centrally managed system. Oftentimes, the vast distances that data needs to travel is a major challenge to overcome. However, successfully providing access to this data will minimize undue costs to water users and unregulated removal of water. Some instruments are even smart enough to allow remote verifications, further increasing the reliability of measured values.
  5. Water quality monitoring. Water quality monitoring generally consists of several key parameters:  
  • pH 
  • Turbidity 
  • Free chlorine 

These parameters ensure that drinking water is safe or treated wastewater meets environmental guidelines. They are either measured online by process instrumentation or by manual grab sampling, which may examine a composite sample over a weekly period.  

Online monitoring in the distribution network ensures that water quality is permanently measured. Real-time warning of pollution events is possible to ensure that they are quickly resolved, and downstream operations are not adversely affected. Furthermore, we can use online monitoring parameters as an input for network asset condition assessment — for example, pH and conductivity in wastewater pump stations. This can allow for further improvement to network operations.

Ready to transform your water network with IoT?

IoT technology solutions like Netilion can provide enormous benefits that were not previously possible. Whether in densely populated or remote regions, Netilion Water Network Insights ensures full transparency in water networks around the clock. It can be used for reliable monitoring of water quantity, pressure, temperature, level or water quality. Netilion Water Network Insights connects all levels of a water supply system and offers service providers and water associations tailor-made solutions from a single source. These include everything from field devices, components for data transfer, data recording and data archiving to data evaluation as well as one-of-a-kind forecasting functions. 

In these testing times of decreasing water security, IoT technology has been proven to boost operational efficiency and provide smart investment decisions. As utilities continue to make quantum leaps in their use of IoT technology, now is not the time to be left behind. 

If you have questions about how the cloud-based Netilion software solution could be a good fit for your water applications, please reach out to our team!


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