Remote-control boat speeds reservoir surveys


As the regulatory requirement, in Britain and elsewhere, to assess reservoirs and lakes expands to include smaller bodies of water, HR Wallingford has developed a remote control boat which is able to collect hydrometric data quickly, simply, safely and accurately.

ARC Boat

ARC Boat

The ARC-Boat employs a sophisticated SonTek  M9 Acoustic Doppler Profiler (ADP®) which is a 5-beam depth sounding device that scans the reservoir bed as the boat is guided across the water’s surface. Recorded data are analysed by SonTek Hydrosurveyor software to produce accurate depth measurement in addition to 3-D maps of the entire water body. With a small amount of post-processing in GIS or 3D CAD, an accurate water volume can be determined.

Craig Goff, a reservoir Supervising Panel Engineer and dam specialist at HR Wallingford has used the ARC-Boat in a trial project to assess five reservoirs and says “This new method offers tremendous advantages over traditional manned boat techniques because it is faster, safer, more environmentally friendly and involves fewer staff and resources. All of this combines to mean that it saves a great deal of time and money. This is particularly important because the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 will necessitate the volumetric assessment of many water bodies that have previously been below the threshold and therefore outside of the ambit of the Reservoirs Act 1975.”

Reservoir regulations
As a result of residential and industrial development in recent decades, the levels of risk associated with many British reservoirs have changed, and the British Flood and Water Management Act 2010 has amended their Reservoirs Act 1975 to bring a more risk-based approach to reservoir regulation. The 2010 Act seeks to achieve this by:

1. reducing the capacity at which a reservoir will be regulated from 25,000m³ to 10,000m³
2. requiring all Undertakers with reservoirs over 10,000m³ to register their reservoirs with the Environment Agency
3. ensuring that only those reservoirs assessed as high risk are subject to full regulation

The reservoir sections of the 2010 Act are dependent upon on the development of secondary legislation which is likely to specify the reservoir capacity above which water bodies will be regulated. However, irrespective of the content of this secondary legislation, the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 has clearly generated an urgent need for reservoir assessment and the application of the ARC-Boat for reservoir bathymetry is therefore propitious.

The ARC-Boat has been designed with a V-shaped hull to give optimal manoeuvrability and minimal air entrainment beneath the ADP, ensuring high quality data collection. The robust and reliable design, including grab handles fitted to the upper deck, mean that the boat can be launched from the most difficult locations and a unique detachable bow means that the ARC-Boat can easily be transported in an average sized car.

SonTek M9

SonTek M9

The SonTek M9 is a 9 beam acoustic Doppler profiler, using 5 beams at any one moment for depth measurements from a wide footprint on the water bed. This means that the time spent ‘driving’ the boat is minimised in comparison with single beam instruments. Importantly, the M9 is able to operate in depths ranging from 15cm to over 40m.

The boat employs industry standard remote control with a minimum range in excess of 200m and Bluetooth communications provide data transmission to an onshore laptop.

Data Management
HydroSurveyor™ is a system designed to collect bathymetric, water column velocity profile, and acoustic bottom tracking data as part of a hydrographic survey. The two key components of the system are the HydroSurveyor™ Acoustic Doppler Profiler (ADP®) platform, and the powerful, yet user-friendly, data collection software.

With the HydroSurveyor™ platform, SonTek is able to offer an exclusive 5-beam depth sounding device, with built-in navigation, full water column velocity (currents) profiling, full compensation for speed of sound (with the CastAway-CTD), and integrated positioning solution.

HydroSurveyer Real-time Data Shot!

HydroSurveyer Real-time Data Shot!

Trial Results
Craig Goff is extremely pleased with the results of the initial trials on five reservoirs in southern England. He says: “The M9 performed very well, running from 8am to 4.30pm each day on a single set of batteries. We were able to conduct the surveys much faster than has ever been possible before, without the health and safety risks of putting staff over water and the environmental risks of diesel powered larger survey boats. Most importantly, however, we were able to produce high quality accurate data for a modest price and our client was very pleased with the results.”

Applications for the ARC-Boat
In addition to the smaller reservoirs that will have to be surveyed, larger reservoirs will be able to take advantage of the new technology to assist in operations such as the creation of sedimentation models. These models inform strategies to prevent capacity depletion and to extend the lives of reservoirs through flushing, excavation, dredging etc. Similarly, ARC-Boat surveys can be employed around submerged hydropower or draw off pipe intakes to assess sedimentation levels – a vitally important role because sediment can seriously damage turbines, or influence operation of scour pipes or water supply draw off pipes from reservoirs.

As a result of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, the owners of small reservoirs will need to prove whether their water bodies are affected by the amended Reservoirs Act 1975, by determining an accurate volume figure for their reservoirs. Typically, this will include landowners, farmers and organisations such as the National Trust. However, the development of the ARC-Boat with the M9 and the latest HydroSuveyor™ software mean that such work is now faster, safer and significantly lower cost. This is good news for the owners of smaller reservoirs for whom any survey cost is a new cost.



Maximum uptime realised through in-line turbidity at Franklaw WTW

Dr Patsy Rigby, Hach Lange UK discusses a water treatment application at a Preston in North West England

A key United Utilities water treatment facility has significantly reduced the risk of failure to comply with the regulatory requirements of the Badenoch Bouchier report and reduced the number of maintenance hours spent by installation of a continuous in-line turbidity probe. As an additional benefit advanced warning of de-sludging issues can be immediately identified enabling the plant operations to rectify the situation in minimal time.

United Utilities Group PLC forms the largest listed water business in Britain, controlling through its subsidiary United Utilities Water (UUW), the licence to provide water and wastewater services to 7 million customers in the North West region. Between the period 2010-2015, UUW is investing £300m improving treatment at 45 of their facilities promising the development of innovative operational solutions to optimise water treatment efficiency beyond the scope of existing processes.

Franklaw WTW based just outside Preston is a key treatment plant in the North West catchment area drawing raw water from various sources including the rivers Wyre and Lune, Fylde borehole, Barnacre reservoir and Thirlmere aqueduct. As a key facility, the plant supplies treated water to a population of 650,000 within Blackpool, Preston and the surrounding districts, providing up to 220 million litres of water per day (equating to a staggering 93,000 glasses of water per second). The years 2001-2004 saw £35 million investment by United Utilities to upgrade and develop the washwater treatment processing at the plant providing lamella based clarifiers for efficient washwater treatment.

North Lancashire Water Technical Officer James Bowsher (see photograph) explains the current treatment process at Franklaw WTW: “Treatment begins with water drawn from 4 inlet sources which are mixed and course-screened to remove large debris. The coloured raw water is dosed and mixed with Aluminium Sulphate and Polyelectrolyte. The coagulated waters then enter the upward flow super-pulsator units which hold the floc within baffle plates while the cleaner water flows upwards and on to the next processing stage. From here, clarified water enters one of 12 rapid gravity filters to trap any remaining particulates. Periodically these filters are automatically backwashed with air and then water to prevent blockage, and the backwash water passed to dirty backwash water tanks for blending and balancing. These waters then pass through a series of lamella clarifiers for further treatment.

Franklaw WTW Site Manager Michael Tillery and North Lancashire Water Technical Officer James Bowsher

“The lamella plate settlers maximise settling (owing to significantly enhanced surface area of multiple stacked angled plates compared to the surface area of a flat horizontal surface) while demanding only 10% of the space taken up by traditional settling units. Deposited sludge from the plates is drawn off and dewatered via sludge press units into 22% solids cake further downstream and ultimately sent out for landfill. The treated supernatant water from the lamella units is returned to the inlet tower for re-treatment. A maximum 10% proportion of the total plant inlet volume may be recycled by return to the inlet of the treatment works. However, regulation demands that recycled backwash water must contain a turbidity of ≤10NTU in accordance with the Badenoch and Bouchier reports.”

Continuous recycling of a small percentage of the total works throughput has dual benefits: 1. there is no need to discharge excess volumes to the water course – eliminating the imposition of discharge consent limits by the Environment Agency and 2. internal recycling reduces the water draw from local resources with river and water stocks sustainably preserved.

Backwash water heavily loaded with sticky organic residues (which deposit over the lamella plates during settlement) must be carefully monitored to ensure that turbidity complies with the 10NTU limit imposed by the Badenoch and Bouchier reports. As James Bowsher continues “In the past we used off-line turbidity analysers with the sample pump fed from the supernatant holding tank post the 6 lamella clarifiers. This holding tank combines a strategic sampling point with an inbuilt overflow unit to carry excess volumes back to the lamella for recycling.

With previous systems, water from the tank was pumped into a separately housed kiosk to the inlet of the turbidity analyser and this gave a delayed turbidity reading. Off-line instruments give good accuracy by enabling a controlled sample environment at optimum temperatures, with bubble traps to reduce interference from air pockets which can scatter the light path and cause false readings. However the nature of the process water in the lamella application was found to cause organic deposits to build up in the sample lines causing serious blockage in the joints and tubing of the flow path. As a result, turbidity readings were found to frequently flat-line.

“To strip the system down, hose all joints and tubing, then re-calibrate the system before a final flush was demanding several hours of maintenance every couple of days. The demand on operator time and the risk of sending high turbidity water back to the inlet with non-continuous measurement far outweighed the reliability of results. Without regular assessment by the operational team the flat-lining could theoretically be un-noticed for several days.”

United Utilities challenged Hach Lange to provide a reliable plug and play, low maintenance in-situ system to avoid the issues arising with off-line systems. A self-cleaning Solitax sc turbidity probe was recommended, mounted on a sliding pole for simple probe removal and maintenance. Based on a dual infrared light scattering technique reliable, real-time monitoring in very low to highly turbid (up to 15% solids) and coloured water samples is afforded. With an automatic cleaning unit, drift free operation is assured despite continuous operation in the wastewater stream and with maintenance limited to an annual change of the wiper blade maintenance is almost entirely eliminated. The system is factory calibrated and requires just a simple factor against a single laboratory result before use eliminating the need for the commonplace dilution based calibration of contemporary systems.

The Solitax sc probe was pole-mounted approximately 1m below the water surface in the combined holding tank of the backwash water (alongside the overflow pipe). The system operates such that if the turbidity approaches the user-set threshold a high range alarm is triggered to stop the supernatant pump returning back to the inlet and diverting the water back to the lamella for re-treatment. Should the water level drop below the height of the probe, an alarm is raised by localised level sensors and the subsequent rise in turbidity from exposure to excess light provides a secondary alarm of high turbidity providing a dual safety approach.

Initial trial data was verified alongside a portable turbidity analyser and proved that when the lamella were overloaded, causing excessive valve head pressure (which increases the sludge retention and reduces the transfer of water) the set alarms promoted immediate intervention, saving many hours of maintenance and re-treatment costs.

The installation in the combined lamellae outlet

Site Manager Michael Tillery describes the immediate benefits of the system: “The in-line Solitax probe gives instant, accurate turbidity results and much quicker than we could achieve with pump fed off-line systems. The particular advantage in the sampling set up is that it is virtually maintenance free, with automatic self-cleaning of the optical surface every 12-24 hours eliminating the maintenance we previously faced to hose down and remove organic deposits. A precautious wiping frequency keeps the turbidity reading cycling below the target threshold which is much better than letting the value creep towards the consent limit.

“With strategic location of the Solitax on the combined outlet of the lamella clarifiers we now get an instant alarm should levels rise ensuring we are always within compliance and with no pump stoppage for maintenance. With operators freed up to undertake other critical jobs around the site it has greatly improved the plant efficiency. On this basis, the system has not only been purchased by this site but is being rolled out across other sites.”

In-pipe monitors turn dreams into reality


The quality of tap water has improved enormously in recent decades, but for largely technological reasons, until recently, knowledge of water quality between the treatment works and the tap has been an almost impossible dream for water treatment and distribution network managers. In this article, Jo Cooper, Product Specialist at Intellitect Water, will look at the ways in which the challenges have been overcome in order to turn that dream into reality.

Drinking water generally leaves treatment plants in excellent condition before entering a network of underground pipes, of varying age, that can extend for many miles. It has always been difficult to identify water quality problems until after the water has reached the consumer. An array of technological challenges had to be overcome before it would be possible to measure in-pipe water quality without incurring major capital or operational costs. However, following a substantial research and development programme, the Intellisonde monitors were launched in 2008 and have since found application worldwide in pipes and bypass flow cells for drinking water, rivers and wastewater installations. The remainder of this article will examine the most significant hurdles that were overcome in the development of this technology.

1. Water quality parameters

Sonde Head

Most traditional water quality sensors would be unsuitable for use inside pressurised pipes, so it was necessary for Intellitect’s engineers to develop sensor technologies that would be small, low cost, low power, robust and require almost no service or calibration. As a result, the head of an Intellisonde (see picture on right) is a mere 3.6cm in diameter, but fully populated can deliver continuous water quality data for 12 parameters. Measurement options include Free Chlorine, Mono-chloramine, Dissolved Oxygen, Conductivity, pH, ORP/Redox, Flow, Pressure, Temperature, Turbidity and Colour. An ISE channel is also available for Fluoride or Ammonium. The measurements are flow independent because the unit features an automatic stirrer which starts when low flow is detected.

Intellisonde users are able to specify the required parameters such that monitors can be installed to meet customers’ specific needs.

2. Maintenance and consumables
Clearly, it would not be feasible to install a network of monitoring equipment in underground pipes that requires frequent recalibration, spares or maintenance. This was a major challenge because many traditional water quality monitoring technologies for parameters such as dissolved oxygen and chlorine require recalibration as often as fortnightly to address sensor drift. In addition to regular recalibration, these traditional membrane-covered amperometric sensors also necessitate occasional replacement of membranes and the sensors’ internal electrolyte solution.

Colorimetric water quality analysis techniques would also be unfeasible for an in-pipe monitoring application, because such techniques generate waste chemicals that could contaminate ground water if no waste water disposal facility is available and also necessitate a supply of reagents that would add to operational costs and create an unacceptable maintenance requirement.

The Intellisonde sensors are solid state and require no recalibration once they have settled following installation. Furthermore, no membranes or chemicals are required and no maintenance is necessary until the sensor head is quickly and easily serviced after typically 6 months.

3. Labour costs
As outlined above, traditional monitoring techniques can create a significant labour requirement for ongoing instrument service. However, there are two other issues that affect labour costs. Firstly, instrument installation and secondly, the labour costs incurred by water quality problem investigations.

Intellisonde requires just a standard inspection pit and 2” gate valve for installation. Other instrumentation may require a roadside cabinet, waste collection and mains power which increase the cost very significantly.

The Intellisonde has been designed to minimise labour costs. This has been achieved with miniature sensors and an extremely low power requirement; the probe can be fitted into large pressurised pipes (via a 3.8 or 5cm valve) as well as pipes only ten centimetres in diameter, for street level monitoring. An adjustable collar allows the sonde to be set to a pre-determined depth, ensuring maximum flexibility to adapt to local conditions. A variant of the sonde (Intellisonde SA – short application) enables continuous monitoring of a customer’s supply by insertion into a water metering box.

The cost of excavation is highly significant and represents a significant barrier to water quality problem investigations, particularly if excavation work is likely to become a nuisance to road users for example. This is an area in which Intellisondes offer enormous benefits because the provision of live in-pipe water quality data enables network managers to detect problems before they become serious and also to significantly improve the speed with which the location of a problem is identified, thereby avoiding unnecessary excavations.

4. Data collection
Intellisondes incorporate an internal datalogger that can be configured to measure and log data from the sensors at intervals from once per minute to once per hour. This data can be collected manually, but more commonly real-time data is transmitted through a variety of communication methods so that network managers have visibility of water quality.

Communications options include RS232 or RS485 serial outputs via MODBUS, Analogue Outputs and GPRS. As a result, Intellisondes can interface with almost any SCADA system or data collection platform. There are also two analogue inputs available for external sensors such as pressure transducers, and each of the 12 analogue voltage outputs can be connected to telemetry loggers for integration into an existing data collection system. GPRS transmission can occur after each sensor reading, enabling rapid response to any incidents.

5. Multiple applications
Whilst in-pipe monitoring of drinking water quality is the main application for Intellisondes, the monitors have also been employed very successfully in a number of other applications. These include river monitoring for intake protection and environmental purposes, final effluent monitoring at wastewater treatment works and in swimming pools.

Water quality is top priority at Brighton aquarium


The SEA LIFE Centre next to the pier in Brighton (GB) is the world’s oldest operating aquarium. Originally designed by Eugenius Birch in 1872, the popular attraction has recently benefited from substantial renovation and now offers a range of new attractions including a Jellyfish Discovery & a Behind the Scenes tour.

With hundreds of highly valuable marine creatures to protect, water quality is a key issue and routine monitoring is now undertaken with Hach Lange instruments. Displays Curator Carey Duckhouse says “The recent building work presented a series of challenges, but we have been able to protect water quality throughout the project with a monitoring regime that was designed to quickly detect any deterioration in water quality and to provide the highest level of vigilance for the most sensitive species.”

In order to protect water quality, each tank at the Brighton attraction has its own filtration system, including a pressurised sand filter, a biological filter and a carbon filter where appropriate. Some tanks, containing particularly sensitive species such as seahorses, octopus and jellyfish, also feature an ultraviolet treatment system.

Many marine organisms will die quickly if the dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature or salinity levels move outside of acceptable boundaries, so temperature measurements are taken daily on all tanks, DO is measured three times/day in the main ocean tank, and salinity and DO are measured twice per week in all tanks. A hand-held ‘HQD’ water quality meter is employed for this purpose, utilising the latest sensor technology such as an optical LDO™ sensor which substantially improves the reliability of oxygen measurements. However, as Carey explains “Even subtle changes in water quality can stress marine organisms, which makes them more sensitive to disease, so a range of other parameters such as ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, copper and iron, are also measured with a Hach Lange DR 2800 spectrophotometer.”

Reagents for the spectrophotometer tests are supplied in small pre-filled powder pillows containing extremely accurate amounts of reagents. This ensures that the tests are conducted in the same way every time and avoids potential errors whilst also saving time and chemical wastage.

The spectrophotometer has an internal memory containing the calibration data for a large number of parameters so that Carey and her colleagues simply choose the pillow reagents for the tests they need.

The test procedure is very simple; the contents of a powered pillow are simply added to a small sample and a coloured solution is allowed to develop for a specific time. The sample tube is then inserted into the spectrophotometer which provides a highly accurate and repeatable reading.

The water quality monitoring equipment is also used in research conducted in collaboration with Sussex University. Much of this work is with Cephalopods such as cuttle fish and addresses a range of issues including feeding behaviour, camouflage and nutrition. Accurate water quality monitoring is necessary in all of this work to ensure that observed effects are not the result of water quality changes. Visitors to the aquarium can view research work during the ‘Behind the Scenes’ tour, in addition to the nursery area, the laboratory and the food preparation section.

Clearly, water quality is key to the success of an aquarium and Carey says “If Eugenius Birch was alive today I am sure he would be delighted to see that the aquarium has continued to thrive, and as an engineer he would be fascinated by the water quality monitoring technology that we are now able to employ.”

Pictures: Julia Claxton 2012

Irish Pharma plant monitors water wirelessly


Self-organising network connects Rosemount® wireless pressure and flow transmitters; provides network for future expansion


Flow data is transmitted every 30 seconds and pressure and level data every 300 seconds

Emerson's Smart Wireless Gateway strategically positioned on the control room roof

Six Rosemount pressure transmitters, two Rosemount flow transmitters and two Rosemount level transmitters were installed

Emerson Process Management’s Smart Wireless technology is enabling GlaxoSmithKline to monitor water usage at its Cork plant in Ireland. Installation of Rosemount® wireless flow and pressure transmitters on two new storage tanks has provided an opportunity to better understand water usage throughout the plant, to trial the wireless technology, and to create a network for cost-effectively adding new process instrumentation in the future.

“GlaxoSmithKline is continuously looking to improve plant performance by increasing the number of parameters measured,” explained Emmett Martin, Site Services & Automation Manager, GlaxoSmithKline. “Water is a considerable overhead to the plant so it is important that we monitor flow rates to manage consumption, and to help identify any usage trends.”

The Cork site is a strategic manufacturing plant that produces a range of bulk active ingredients for use in the formulation of prescription drugs. The existing water storage facility was too small and had no measurement instrumentation in place. Two new storage tanks were installed along with a new pipework infrastructure. The tanks are located around 300 metres from the main control room and there was no existing cabling in place. A wired installation would have required new power and data cables to be buried in trenches. By adopting a wireless solution these significant costs were avoided.

Ten Smart Wireless devices were installed including six Rosemount pressure transmitters, two Rosemount flow transmitters and two Rosemount level transmitters. The Smart Wireless technology integrates seamlessly with the existing automation equipment. Flow data is transmitted every 30 seconds and pressure and level data every 300 seconds to a Smart Wireless Gateway strategically positioned on the control room roof. This is connected using a serial connection to the existing DeltaV™ digital automation system that controls the plant utilities. From here the flow and pressure measurements are sent to a data historian and are available to plant operators for regular monitoring and reporting.

The new data obtained has enabled GlaxoSmithKline to clearly identify water usage for different areas of the plant, providing a far better understanding of the costs. GlaxoSmithKline is now in a position to identify changes.

The new wireless infrastructure makes it very easy and cost effective to add additional measurement devices without the need for new cabling. GlaxoSmithKline are already looking at installing a wireless level device that will be added to the existing network.

“We regard the installation of wireless very much as a two stage process,” explained Emmet. “The first step is to establish a wireless network and let it prove itself over a period of time. The next step is to expand the network and use wireless whenever it is more cost effective than a wired alternative.”

“We are more than satisfied with the solution, which is proving to be reliable with no signal loss,” he summarised. “Based on a successful implementation, at some point in the future we are perhaps, looking towards a plant with no wires.”

Smart Wireless is an extension of PlantWeb™ digital architecture that offers solutions for field instrumentation and plant operations. In addition to the products installed at GlaxoSmithKline, other wireless products include Fisher® position monitors, Rosemount Analytical devices and Machinery Health™ Management transmitters, and native wireless interfaces to AMS Suite predictive maintenance software and Ovation™ digital automation systems, and SmartStart® services.

Energy efficiency – have you got it right?

Visibility + Motivation + Tools = Energy Efficiency

In this article Mike Brand, Business Development Manager at DEDICATEDengines, explains how visibility of energy consumption will only achieve significant energy reductions when combined with motivation and the right tools. Although dealing with the British experience there are perhaps lessons for other juristictions as well!

If you have a water meter in your home, you are probably an efficient user of water, even if you are not the world’s leading environmentalist. Similarly, your electricity bill helps you to monitor the energy costs of your daily life and recent fluctuations in the price of energy will doubtless have caught your attention and possibly caused you to change behaviour in some way.

You may even have a smart meter for your gas and electricity supply or you could have purchased or been given an energy monitor that provides you with a real-time display of electricity consumption. All of these tools are designed to give you visibility of your energy consumption and if you have the motivation, (environmental or financial, or both) it helps you to identify energy-hungry devices.

The problem is that you are a human being (and so is the rest of your family!) which means that you sometimes forget to turn off lights, computers, televisions etc or to adjust radiators and change the thermostat setting. So, what is the solution?

Smart buildings have the ability to both monitor and control energy, thereby preventing the impacts of human forgetfulness. In business and industrial buildings, advances in technology have enabled building monitoring and control systems that can be retrofitted and operated remotely over the internet. Such systems are able to manage enormous numbers of buildings and thereby deliver substantial energy savings. DEDICATEDengines’ customers are typically achieving 20% energy reduction following the installation of one of our eFM (internet-based Facilities Management) systems, with many clients saving as much as 30%.

A quarter of the Britain’s carbon emissions comes from the energy we use to heat our homes and a similar amount comes from businesses, industry and workplaces. At a national level, the country needs to become more energy efficient to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and the Climate Change Act 2008 legislated for a reduction in our carbon emissions. It set legally-binding carbon budgets across all sectors of the British economy – including homes and communities, and workplaces. Regulatory tools such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC EES) are forcing businesses to address energy efficiency and the recent recession is also encouraging focus on cost reduction.

The issues in the workplace mirror those in the home; if HVAC, electrical equipment and lighting are entirely controlled by human beings, errors will be made unless controls are in place. Furthermore, staff are often disconnected with the financial costs associated with energy in businesses, so they may be less likely to voluntarily implement energy efficiency measures. However, as people become more environmentally aware, motivation for improvements grows.

With over 600 systems installed and providing daily energy savings for both Public and Private sector clients, DEDICATEDengines is a business entirely focused on providing building owners and managers with visibility of energy use and the tools with which to implement substantial improvements.

Working with strategic partners such as Atkins Asset Management, we have developed technology to help manage complex property estates through web-based monitoring and control systems for buildings. Our systems are designed to ‘close the loop’ – to implement automatic controls that generate real cost savings.

With ten years of experience, DEDICATEDengines has learned that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to buildings energy management. Our systems are modular in design which means that our solutions are tailored to meet clients’ specific needs.

Some clients require aM&T (automated Monitoring and Targeting), others CRC compliance reporting or real-time building monitoring and control, or a combination of these; so we have developed systems that have the flexibility to satisfy any current or future need.

At the heart of each system is a monitoring and control zone kit which is deployed in workspaces and plant room HVAC equipment such as boilers. Core web functionality consists of the Remote BEMS (Buildings Energy Management System) module for buildings HVAC environmental, management and control and the Alarming/Help desk module for FM asset management and maintenance.

In summary, the move to implement energy efficiency in buildings and estates is gathering a powerful momentum, so if we can provide asset managers with both visibility of energy use and control tools, we will be able to save substantial costs and make a major contribution to the targets set out in the Climate Change Act.

Wastewater treatment optimisation provides cost savings


Dr Michael Haeck, Hach Lange

The operators of wastewater treatment plants constantly seek new opportunities to improve plant efficiency and environmental performance. In order to achieve this they need to be able to maintain the effectiveness of the treatment process, producing a consistent discharge within consent limits, whilst minimising inputs such as energy, labour and raw materials.

Real-time control (RTC) has become very reliable.

As technology advances new opportunities materialise and this article will outline the considerable benefits that can be obtained from the latest sensors coupled with a new breed of real-time controllers. Improvements in the accuracy and reliability of sensors, coupled with a new facility providing  information about the sensors’ performance, in addition to the measurement itself, means that real-time control (RTC) has become very reliable which means that it has become an attractive option in a large number of applications.

Hach Lange has developed a set of standardised control modules, enabling the application of processes improvements and optimisation strategies without the need for complex programming and expensive customisation.

In combination with Hach Lange sensors, Nutrient Removal and Sludge Treatment Processes can now be easily optimised in order to achieve savings in aeration energy and chemical consumption, even on small waste water treatment facilities.

RTC opportunities
Stand-alone wastewater treatment optimisation solutions (WTOS) control modules are now available to optimise individual treatment processes at treatment plants. These can be easily integrated into an existing plant structure and currently include (1) the chemical elimination of phosphorus and (2) dissolved oxygen adjustment according to the actual NH4-N load in an aeration tank.  Control modules for sludge management as sludge retention time controller or desludging controller will be added in the near future.

In addition to the stand-alone modules mentioned above, it is also possible to combine different RTC modules to optimise an entire plant, as outlined in the trial below. Termed an ‘enterprise solution’ this activity involves a review of the plant as a whole and the creation of customised specifications for the application of different control modules for nitrification, sludge retention time, methanol dosing, and/or chemical phosphate removal to achieve the best overall performance.

Sensor technology
In recent years, improvements in sensor technology have focused on greater resolution and accuracy in combination with longer intervals between calibration or service. However, in order for an RTC system to operate effectively it is also necessary for sensors and analysers to be able to provide information on the quality of the signal and the service status.

Hach Lange has filed a patent application for this facility under the brand name ‘PROGNOSYS’. This provides the RTC control modules with a continuous indication of a sensor’s status so that if pre-determined conditions occur (sensor failure, outside calibration, service overdue, drift etc) the RTC automatically adopts an alternative control strategy, which might be a typical weekly and diurnal flow profile that has been stored in the system’s memory.

Stand-alone RTC example: chemical Phosphate removal
As outlined above, the measurement technology for phosphate has advanced considerably in recent years in tandem with a reduction in capital and operational costs. As a result, an easy to integrate RTC module in the phosphate removal process can deliver pay back periods of less than one year.

The measurement of phosphate levels in combination with an RTC system can be utilised to manage the dosing of precipitant salts. This precipitates the phosphate and facilitates sedimentation and removal. Accurate continuous monitoring is necessary to ensure that (a) sufficient dosing is applied to remove the phosphate and (b) excessive dosing does not take place. Over-dosing would be undesirable on three counts; firstly, from an environmental perspective the objective is to minimise the amount of iron being added that could remain in the effluent; secondly, ferric sulphate is expensive and excessive dosing would be costly; thirdly the amount of precipitation sludge should be kept to a minimum because sludge disposal can represent a significant cost.

A unique feature of the RTC system is the continuous automatic calculation of the ‘ß’ value (overdosing rate), which is required to calculate the right amount of precipitant dosing for open loop control. The calculated ß-value takes into account the percentage of phosphate which has to be removed. The less phosphate there is; the more difficult removal becomes and the more precipitant is required to eliminate the same amount. For example, more precipitant is required to lower phosphate concentrations from 4 to 2 mg/l than from 6 to 4 mg/l.

Wastewater treatment plants operating an open loop real time control system for phosphate removal have demonstrated considerable savings – a UK works has saved approximately 37% of the ferric sulphate cost and 57% of caustic chemical costs and a plant in Italy has shown 50% cost savings in comparison with a constant dosing system, which represents a 7 month payback.

If closed loop control is applied, the RTC system requires a measurement of phosphate levels immediately after dosing. As a result, the Phosphate concentration can be held at a fixed desired level and the control performance is monitored as indicated in figure 1.

Figure 1: Example for Stand Alone P-RTC performance

UK RTC Trial – activated sludge process control
The results of a trial investigating the benefits of an RTC system on the management of the activated sludge process (ASP) have been published by Thornton, Sunner and Haeck[i].

Managed by MWH UK Ltd and employing monitoring instruments from Hach Lange, the trial employed online sensors and control algorithms to optimise the operation of the ASP, leading to greater efficiency and sustainability. Undertaken at full scale, the trial assessed the benefits of RTC at a 250,000 population equivalent (PE) works in the UK and consisted of two identical ASPs (each with four lanes) configured as a 4-stage Bardenpho plant with methanol addition in the secondary anoxic zone.

Standard aeration lanes (fixed DO set-points with fluctuating NH4 effluent concentration) were compared with lanes running an RTC system operating variable DO set-points based on actual load. The RTC lanes deployed extra sensors for dissolved oxygen, ammonium and nitrate.

The trial demonstrated that the RTC system was able to respond quickly to ammonium influent spikes and to maintain a stable effluent ammonium level. The trial also demonstrated that the RTC system was able to reduce methanol consumption by 50% and energy (measured as air flow) by 20% (figure 2). The system has now operated successfully for more than one year

Figure 2: RTC savings

The Hach Lange optimisation system combines process measurement technology with advanced RTC control modules to provide substantial savings in operational costs at wastewater treatment plants, whilst maintaining compliance with consent values.

Recent advances in sensors, analysers and controllers mean that wastewater treatment no longer has to be managed on a ‘worst case scenario’ basis. Processes can now be monitored and adjusted instantaneously to maximise efficiency and improve process stability. Cost reduction is obviously a key benefit, but the ability to reduce energy consumption is becoming an important objective in many countries.

[i] Thornton, Sunner and Haeck, 2010. Real time control for reduced aeration and chemical consumption: a full scale study. Water Sci. Technol.61, 2169–2175

European automation award


Emerging Company Award in the Automation and Control System Services in the EMEA market.

The 2009 Frost and Sullivan Emerging Company Award has been presented to Adroit Technologies for its distinct competence in catering to exact customer requirements in the EMEA (European, Middle East Africa) automation and control system services (ACSS) market. Having created a unique identity in the Southern African market, the company is now emerging as a strong participant in the European ACSS market. Adroit develops SCADA and HMI software for major process and discrete industries and has a diverse product offering specific to end-user requirements. The company’s aim to focus varied market segments and expand its customer base globally has forced it to take a leap, which has started yielding profitable results.

Joint Venture a Way to New Market Penetration

Being a small participant in the EMEA market has given Adroit the advantage and
opportunity of working closely with its customers. Started as a software producer for the SCADA/HMI and Reporting products the company is now focused on offering its VIZNET Information Portal product. Recognised by Microsoft, VIZNET is a software platform that answers the age old challenge of collaboration and content delivery of data, information and knowledge through a single Smart Client User Interface. The real-time mine operations management portal built by partner Polysphere was also based on the VIZNET product.

Product Features and Benefits

Distinctive advantage of VIZNET Information Portal introduced by Adroit in 2008 helps in retrieving the real-time data and combines it with the MIS, MES and ERP information. It presents these data in the reporting structure through a single-user interface. The wizard driven and visual configuration makes development and maintenance of any application quite simple. The security model, built on Microsoft’s active directory offers clients peace of mind when using the smart client connectivity over the internet.

Chart 1.1

Chart 1.1 provides EMEA Automation and Control System Services Market: Key Factors Contributing to Adroit’s Growth (EMEA), 2009

Diversified Focus

Award Description

The Frost & Sullivan Award for Emerging Company is presented each year to the company that has emerged as a significant participant within its industry. This company is perceived to have exhibited outstanding management, superior market growth, exceptional customer service and the ability to combine technology and successful strategic initiatives. This company has the exceptional know-how to take advantage of market changes through the execution of innovative strategies within the existing competitive landscape.

Research Methodology

In order to select the Award recipient, analysts quantify several market factors for each market participant according to predetermined criteria, paying close attention to their combined operations efforts. This process includes interviews with market
participants, customers, and suppliers, along with extensive secondary and technology research. The companies’ efforts are then analyzed based on the number of new customers, new segments, and commitment to business expansion coupled with market growth.

Measurement Criteria

In addition to the methodology described above, there are specific criteria used to determine final competitor rankings in this industry. The recipient of this Award has excelled based on one or more of the following criteria:

• Proof of success executing a restructuring strategy
• New market penetration (geographic, product, etc.)
• Marketing, promotion, and visibility of the company
• Degree of strategy innovation
• Technological innovation and leadership
• Increased name recognition
• Revenue and market share growth

The company is introducing the advanced alarm management product and a version 3 of VIZNET in May 2009. Knowing the fact that innovation is the key factor to compete in the dynamic market, Adroit invests close to 30 percent of its revenues in the research and development (R&D) activity annually. This has helped the company to survive even in the toughest period of economic slow down to have 30 percent growth in 2008 compared to the previous year. Adroit achieved this with a strategic approach where it focused on end users who were working on single-vendor approach. Adroit catered to these companies with its maximum benefits and at reduced cost.

Utilities and Energy Management – Need of the Hour
Adroit is a clear market leader in Southern African delivery in the latter half of 2008, Adroit added additional features to its maximum demand agent product which assists large companies in energy management. This product calculates the predicted maximum demand in any one metered period allowing demand side management to be carried out. This has helped the customers to limit the usage of power and electricity which had been the need of the hour. As reduced energy and fuel consumption can bring significant cost saving in the industry environment, Adroit is taking relentless efforts towards achieving this.

Their major end-user segments   are the water and the mining industries, some of the energy efficiency projects in which they participated in recent years were DBS Mines, PPC cements and Johannesburg Water plants.

Customer Testimony: “Girlock currently has an international SCADA product running at our other plants, but we are so impressed with the Adroit system, that we are considering switching all our SCADA software to Adroit,” says Andre Ziemski, Senior Project and Development Manager for Girlock

Wider Market Reach
With global expansion plans and clear focus on the target customers Adroit emanates its products with utmost efficacy. Participation in various industrial tradeshows, conferences and road shows has provided more visibility to the company. Some of the recent trade shows in which Adroit participated are CEBIT in March 2009, The Durban Control Road Show in March 2009 and SCADA & INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION CONFERENCE in March 2009. In the process of educating its customers, they  frequent training programmes to the new, existing and advanced users of Adroit’s products. These courses last for 4-5 days on regular basis and customers can gain maximum knowledge out of these programmes, which would equip them to have a thorough understanding of Adroit’s products.

Adroit’s Corporate Social Responsibility
Having understood the need for expertise in the automation field, the company has started training the engineering students for a competitive future. Adroit’s corporate governance policy equips the students to gain expertise in the automation field and also provides qualified workforce to the company. Various other activities such as providing sponsorship for sports persons are also a part of the activity, which Adroit carries out for the public welfare.

Market Expansion
Adroit has installed close to 13,000 SCADA/HMI systems within EMEA and in the international market across different end-user segments such mining and water and wastewater after having understood the customer requirement completely. Adroit is concentrating more towards intelligent devices which aims at distributed process control and multifunctional communication protocols, providing customer friendly environment in the plants.

Geographic Penetration
The company works with reliable distributors who are also value-added resellers and systems integrators. This has provided Adroit more scope to clearly penetrate geographies such as Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Canada, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, South Korea and Malaysia with its capable partners in these geographies respectively. Adroit’s wider customer base extends to the following end users such as pulp and paper, food and beverages, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, cement and many others. Its serves more than 5000 clients and holds a strong presence in the South African market and is emerging as an efficient participant in the European automation market, handling most of the state-owned water and utilities projects. Apart from the process industries, the company is increasing its customer base in the telecommunication and the building management segments. It is also planning for global expansion by 2010 by partnering with the major automation companies.

Adroit’s key strength lies in understanding the exact customer demand and catering to it without any deviation. Being an emerging participant in the EMEA market, the company has created clear visibility for its products. In the dynamic automation market, Adroit is witnessing a stable growth as a result of multiple partnerships and value-enhanced offering. The strategic focus towards market expansion and diversified end-user segments is making Adroit an emerging participant in the automation and control system services market. These factors make Adroit Technologies the deserving recipient for the 2009 Frost & Sullivan Emerging Company Award in the Automation and Control System Services in the EMEA market.