Capitalising on innovations and new solutions
Water! In many countries the collection and distribution of water has been ignored for many years and the industry has languished due to lack of investment in some places since the ninteenth century. The same can also be said to be trued of the disposal of waste. In recent years however a better understanding of the neccessity to upgrade systems has developed. This is underlined not only from cases of contamination of water supplies from lack of treatment facilities but also because of increased demand especially in the ever-expanding urban areas.
The recent Water/Waste Water Innovation Conference organised by Mitsubishi Electric Factory Automation and DDC Ltd was therefore a highly relevent event. Subtitled “Capitalising on New Innovation and solutions” it attracted a good representative assembly of Irish local authority and and other interested parties to Mitsubishi’s Irish headquarters in Dublin. This account is an impresion rather than a detailed account of the various presentations.
Obviously the Mitsubishi offering, a whole-life asset management approach using their MAPS (Mitsubishi Adroit Process Suite), featured strongly in this conference. Firstly automation and control solutions and trends in the water industry in Europe were looked at with brief references to various schemes throughout the continent.
90% out of sight!
In examining life cycle management costs it is especially important to look at both visible costs (purchase, installation & commissioning) and the “non-visible” costs (Maintenance, qualified employees, downtime and cost of energy). Like an iceberg the “non-visible” costs can comprise 90% of the total cost over a lifetime. This is becoming more and more recognised and as the industry moves more to the approach of whole life assist management the importance of relevent data becomes paramount and the way this data is collected and recorded. Some of this data is required by legislation to be mantained but more is required for the efficient and optimum running of the system. They examined how this data ought be managed and how to prioritise it without being totally being overcome with information.
Eyes, ears, hands & brains
One of the examples given was a water authority in Britain, Yorkshire Water. Their IT Manager, Andrew Sewell, described their system over their whole area and the philosophy of the organisation, “Taking responsibility of the water envisonment for good!” Telemetry used to be regarded as the eyes and ears of the busines but it is rapidly becoming the eyes, ears, hands and brains of the business. They’ll be running the enterprise, across the whole area like a production plant. They’ll know when they are running in an optimal way. If something happens they’ll model the impact and remotely re-configure as appropriate.
Partnership of comptences and long experience
Mitsubishi’s partner in the MAPS system is a South African company, Adroit Technologies, and the Managing Director, Dave Wibberley, gave a run-down of the SCADA soft his company has developed complete with interesting examples from many South African water schemes his company has supplied. “MAPS is a partnership of comptences and long experience.” Adroit has twenty five years in SCADA systems and are South African market leather while Mitsubishi is a world leader in PLC manufacture and supply. MAPS is based on well tried software tools with a life cycle GUI (Graphical User Interface) that is SQL (Structured Query Language) based on top.
Case study and live demo!
Dave Dunne is the Managing Director of DDC, an Irish company involved in the design and mamangement and integration of control & instrument systems. He introduced an actual live demo of a project for Wicklow County Council, a local authority south of Dublin. The demonstration actually went without perceivable hitch (worth mentioning as many “live” demos attended by this correspondance have been embarressing to say the least!) This project comprised comprised five projects compining control & instrumentation refurbishment with monitoring systems. The demo was of one of the sites, Kilcoole Waste Water Treatment Plant. We were given details of the scope of supply followed by a demonstration of the system working from Technical Manager, Robert Joyce.
Technology is developing very quickly and it is important to exploit it as sometimes quite spectacular savings can be made not to mention that operations formerly regarded as impracticable can suddenly become feasible.
This conference discussed water and wastewater applications but of course mutatis mutandis many other processes would benefit from the solutions and technologies offered.