There's a Way to Monitor Your Entire Water Network From One Intuitive Platform

A cloud-based monitoring solution offers comprehensive automation and supports optimization for critical parameters, from anywhere at any time.

There's a Way to Monitor Your Entire Water Network From One Intuitive Platform

Netilion Water Network Insights connects all levels of water-supply systems so utilities can manage multiple control and data sources with a single interface.

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Water and wastewater utilities constantly look for ways to make their networks operate more efficiently and to improve service reliability for customers.

Endress+Hauser now offers a cloud-based system that enables full transparency for water networks around the clock by providing reliable monitoring of flow, pressure, temperature, level, water quality and other parameters.

The software service, Netilion Water Network Insights, connects all levels of water supply systems, allowing utilities to manage multiple control and data sources through a single interface. These data sources include field devices, industrial controllers, data transfer components, data recording and archiving devices, analysis and forecasting tools, and others.

NWNI provides access to all measurement data gathered in a water network and transmitted to the cloud, whether users access the system from a control room computer, a laptop at home, a tablet in the field or smartphone on the move.

The web-based interface enables complete system monitoring. When limit values are exceeded or in the event of failure, it delivers alarms via email, SMS or push notifications. Ryan Williams, strategic business manager for digital transformation solutions with Endress+Hauser, talked about the technology in an interview with Treatment Plant Operator.

TPO: What market need were you looking to address with this technology?

Williams: We see the water industry continuing to leverage and use digitization in their operations and for monitoring of critical measurement points across their processes. As our smart transmitters have been enabling data, customers have been asking us to go to the next level, helping visualize what’s going on with their flows and liquid analyses. We built the NWNI to provide those insights by way of a clear, cloud-based SCADA application.

TPO: How does this technology improve on traditional monitoring approaches?

Williams: In monitoring, knowledge is power. NWNI is an easy-to-use application that enables users to see, for example, whether they might need to add a pH or dissolved oxygen monitor upstream of a process point they currently monitoring. It gives them a simple, agile way to add measurement points. The ultimate goal is to drive insights around what is currently being monitored, and then to drive insights or actions on what to do next to improve efficiency. We enable customers to be innovative and to do more monitoring while still leveraging traditional systems. The technology gives them options and flexibility.

TPO: In what ways is the data displayed to help support decision-making?

Williams: The software includes evaluation tools like time curves, diagrams, tables and trend charts. By incorporating external data sources, such as weather prediction systems, users can create trend analyses and forecasts. Together, these tools help inform users about conditions like runoff during heavy rainfall or consumer water demand.

TPO: What is the range of applications where this technology is useful?

Williams: It’s not specific to any given site or industry segment. The focus is on water, but the technology can be applied to municipalities, rivers and streams, and industrial users.

TPO: How exactly does this method of network monitoring benefit users?

Williams: By having very simple views of what is going on with the measurement points around their network, they are equipped to take appropriate actions. We also see users looking at the technology from a reliability perspective. We call it water assurance: They want to make sure that all their monitoring assets are in good and healthy condition.

TPO: How is the reliability of measurements assured?

Williams: Within our instrumentation we leverage diagnostics. If an instrument is going out of tolerance because it is getting a coating or buildup, a smart transmitter notifies the NWNI system, and the user is alerted that maintenance is required. In our flowmeters for example, we integrate Heartbeat Technology that provides measurement verification with the push of a button. Users can view automatically generated verification records in the NWNI. So they spend less time getting in a truck and going to the monitoring points.

TPO: What are the key parameters measured in this monitoring system?

Williams: The primary values are flow, pressure, temperature, level and liquid analysis, which includes pH, dissolved oxygen and a whole suite of sensor types. We offer a full market basket of measuring technologies related to industrial process management.

TPO: Who at a water or wastewater utility would be most likely to use this technology?

Williams: There are multiple users, but so far, within organizations adopting the technology, it’s managers responsible for quality and process control. They want to ensure, for instance, that their permit limits will not be breached, and that their liquid analysis is accurate. On the drinking water side, we see utilities using it to make sure water is available based on consumption. They can monitor remotely to determine, for instance, whether they need more risers or more pumping capacity in certain areas.

TPO: How is the technology deployed on customer sites?

Williams: We deploy our instrumentation through a simple project style. As we look at what monitoring technologies need to be deployed, the setup of the cloud-based user interface is object-oriented. That makes it easy for customers to get started and to expand the system. We use common objects such as vessels and pipelines. The measurement technology is pre-engineered, but we also enable our engineers, or the customer, to tailor it to specific user preferences. Customers are free to make adjustments; if they need help, we’re there for them.

TPO: What is involved in adding monitoring points to a network?

Williams: We’re able to put measurement technologies into applications without the constraints of having to run power and communications. Our flow transmitters, for example, essentially consist of a display and a little antenna. They have battery power, and they don’t require cabling and a hard-wired network because they’re leveraging radio and cellular. They don’t require physical infrastructure. We give customers more options to monitor new points in new ways.

TPO: How do you integrate this technology with customers’ existing SCADA or other control systems?

Williams: We have an open platform. Many customers leverage our connectivity protocols to share, push and transmit information between our cloud-based application and their traditional SCADA. We see customers using the connectivity of the cloud-based application for their business processes and big data needs, while leveraging NWNI to monitor and efficiently operate their water networks.  


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