Augmented Reality Tech Helps California Plant Amidst Pandemic Restrictions

Despite pandemic restrictions, Veolia North America's Hubgrade innovations made it possible to check a California plant's equipment without in-person inspections

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Over the past year, as Veolia North America (VNA) adjusted to the realities of operating in a world restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company turned to innovative technologies to provide essential water and wastewater treatment services to communities across the United States and Canada. 

Nowhere was this commitment to cutting-edge technology more evident than in Hollister, California, where VNA has operated and maintained the city’s wastewater treatment plant for more than a decade. Concerned that pandemic restrictions would keep VNA experts from evaluating the plant’s equipment for proper functioning in person, the company used augmented reality digital tools to examine critical components with precision. 

The tools were developed under VNA’s Hubgrade digital platforms, which are transforming water, waste and energy operations. Spurred on by the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, the Hubgrade team at VNA tested sophisticated digital applications to remotely analyze the plant’s equipment. This platform uses ultrasound, vibration and thermal imaging along with inspections to get an accurate remote picture of which plant components were functioning properly, and which required upgrades or repairs. 

“Advances in digitalization are transforming traditional ways to operate and maintain our critical infrastructure,” says Veronique Bourgier, who as VNA senior director for strategy and growth oversees the deployment of Hubgrade innovations. “Veolia is leading the way in this effort, particularly in developing solutions to improve and streamline processes at the facilities we operate.”

The pilot — which also reduced expenses that would otherwise be incurred by sending experts to inspect the plant in person — has proven to be such a success that VNA plans to conduct remote assessments at many other water and wastewater plants the company operates. Besides equipment assessments, the technology can also evaluate safety conditions, identifying potential hazards. It will also allow the company to connect site staff quickly with VNA in-house technical experts for the water and wastewater treatment plants it operates across the country.

Check out this case study of the Hollister project to learn more about how the project was conceived and implemented.


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