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Predictive maintenance enhances operational efficiency in the water and wastewater industry 

Water facilities are tasked with the difficult job of maintaining water quality for safe consumption and sanitary disposal, while simultaneously lowering energy consumption and complying with local, state, and federal environmental initiatives. Injecting unreliable data into operations makes meeting these objectives nearly impossible. By investing in smart instrumentation with capabilities for online diagnostics and predictive maintenance, plant and facility staff can ensure reliable data is provided.

This data can be used to control processes more efficiently and make informed decisions when it comes to maintenance—saving costs, time, and energy. These modern instruments communicate diagnostic data via digital communications, and staff can use this information to proactively address issues, reduce unscheduled outages, and improve operational performance.

smart instrumentation predictive maintenance for Bluetooth connectivity
Smart instrumentation enables predictive maintenance capabilities via Bluetooth connectivity

Online diagnostic data, delivered wirelessly

Online diagnostic data is generated via Heartbeat Technology, incorporated into its modern instruments. To get this data to an asset management system (AMS) or a control and monitoring system, users can take advantage of HART over existing 4-20mA analog loops.  Staff can also use instruments’ WirelessHART communication protocols. 

These wired and wireless digital data links make instrument primary and secondary process variables, along with diagnostic information, available to host systems, which can in turn generate alerts informing plant personnel of anomalies and issues. 

The control system is normally the host for wired HART connections because these systems use the 4-20mA signal proportional to the process variable for real-time control. The additional data provided by HART superimposed on the 4-20ma signal can be monitored with the control system, and/or be sent to another host system, such as an AMS.  

Many of these host systems now have web server functionality, which means data can be securely accessed via any device capable of hosting a web browser—such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Some instruments also have web server functionality, allowing data to bypass the control system, a much less expensive option than adding input points to a control system. 

Wireless signals can be sent to the control system but are often not because they are typically not used for real-time control. These signals are more typically sent directly to an AMS, or to the cloud via a gateway.  

WirelessHART instruments typically send and receive as much or more diagnostic and process data as their wired HART counterparts. While this data can provide immense benefits to a wide range of host systems and applications, many facilities don’t take full advantage of what this data has to offer. 

When this information is ingested by intelligent plant analysis systems, facilities increase their ratio of proactive to reactive maintenance, reducing unplanned downtime, as well as equipment and human safety hazards. For example, instead of waiting to get an alert indicating a high-temperature condition, process data can be used to provide an alert when conditions are detected that would lead to this type of issue – which is truly predictive maintenance.

Bluetooth interfaces complement Heartbeat diagnostics and condition monitoring 

Once connected to a Bluetooth instrument via a smartphone or tablet, a technician can monitor instrument health, and with proper authorization can change tags and other configuration parameters if desired. This is all done without any industrial network configuration because the smartphone handles communication. 

These interfaces include guided procedures for in-situ testing, and they provide traceable verification logs because records are stored in instruments’ local memory. These procedures comply with ISO 9001  for instrumentation verification without interrupting the process, eliminating the need for device removal and process downtime. 

Third-party attested verification and automatically generated verification reports enable optimization of calibration and proof test cycles in a compliant manner. And when anomalies and issues are detected, Bluetooth smartphone interfaces provide easy-to-follow recommendations for remedial actions. 

Digital data enhances operational efficiency and enables predictive maintenance 

When instrument diagnostic data is integrated into host systems, it can be analyzed to provide advance warning of instrument failure or troubleshooting insight in the event of failure. Because calibration and nameplate information are also internally stored in each instrument, tracking and managing assets is easier throughout an instrument’s lifecycle. 

Data provided by Heartbeat Technology can be analyzed to provide: 

  • Increased uptime by predicting failures 
  • Improved efficiency due to fewer process interruptions 
  • Increased measurement reliability due to proactive alerts 
  • Improved safety by reducing the need for techs to manually connect to instruments in the field 
  • Condition monitoring for predictive, intelligent, and timely issue detection 
  • Reduced maintenance costs due to proactive rather than reactive work 
  • Higher confidence in device performance due to verified readings 
  • Efficient troubleshooting and remediation, empowered by clear and standardized diagnostic messages according to NAMUR NE 107 
  • Certified verification of measuring instruments 
  • Ensured regulatory compliance 

When looking to optimize plant processes, smart instrumentation provides indispensable data for generating operational and maintenance insights. By ingesting and processing this data in an AMS, a control system, or wirelessly in the cloud, facilities can leverage proactive maintenance procedures, improving process efficiency and reducing unplanned downtime. 


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