Podcast | December 13, 2013

How Cloud-Based Technology Is Changing The Wastewater Flow Monitoring Industry

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Kevin Marsh, Vice President of Flow Sales at Hach, explains how the latest advancements in mobile technology allow customers to measure data such as speed and depth of sewage flow from a remote location, allowing for increased insight and reduced capital expenses.

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The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Water Online Radio. Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.

Water Online Radio: Give us the run down on Hach Flow. What industry do you serve and what products do you offer?

Kevin Marsh: At Hach Flow, we make flow meters, specifically for sewer flow. Our customer base is largely municipalities, both here in the United States and worldwide.

Imagine the manhole cover out in the street in front of your house or maybe a manhole cover in the street of a busy intersection in your city. All they need to add is a sanitary sewage collection system, and within that might be one of our flow meters that is monitoring both the quantity of flow, the velocity, some of the depths of the flows, and overall critical information needed to manage their collection systems.

Water Online Radio: What are some of the challenges that the industry is currently facing, and how does Hach Flow help in addressing those challenges?

Kevin Marsh: The economy has been through kind of a rough patch these last couple of years. Many of our customers are municipalities that are faced with trying to do the same amount or more work with less resources. Budgets have been cut, the tax base is smaller than it used to be, and the amount of staff present to get things done has been reduced.

On top of that, municipalities have very specific needs related to monitoring of the sewer systems. They need to make sure that they know how much flow is moving through different parts of their systems at any given time, and what's happening when it gets to the treatment plant. They’ve got to make sure it gets treated and then back out into the system again. Some have combined sewers that are highly regulated; they might be under consent decrees with the EPA. There are a large number of regulatory and management needs to be addressed related to sewage flow.

Water Online Radio: How is technology changing the wastewater flow monitoring industry, and how is Hach utilizing some of those technological advancements?

Kevin Marsh: The latest advancements include products that can measure both the speed and the depth of the sewage flow without making any contact with it, sort of like you can use a radar to measure the speed of a baseball pitch.

When you couple that with some of the things that are in the technology marketplace such as wireless communication, the data can be transferred from the manholes up to a cloud-type server that already exists at Hach. This can then provide the sewer flow data to our customers anytime and anywhere they’ve got an internet connection. This information is incredibly useful to our customers.

Water Online Radio: It’s one thing to have advanced technology like you were just discussing. It’s a whole other thing to take that technology and apply it intelligibly. I know that Hach Flow provides flow monitoring service solutions as well. Talk a little bit about that.

Kevin Marsh: What we've done is taken the ability to remotely collect data and use the cloud for storage and computing and given our customers another option. We've gone beyond just providing Data Delivery Services (DDS).

Rather than customers making a capital equipment purchase and hiring trained staff to collect and analyze data, they can use our services. We continue to own the instrumentation and get it installed for them. We get all the data up onto our servers where it’s accessible to them 24/7, anywhere that they’ve got an internet connection. Using these cloud applications, they can look at their data, manipulate it, and report it in any number of ways…

Most importantly, it really reduces the need for bigger up-front expenditures, and it takes away any of the mystery that might come in the future with their ability to both pay for and have the right person available to manage their sewage flow monitoring program...

Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.