By Prashant Kapadia
According to the worldwide research and advisory firm Gartner, "the use of digital technology to modify a company model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities … is the process of converting to a digital business."
The digitalization of the water sector needs a more intelligent approach to water management. Digital technology has the potential to dramatically transform the world's water systems, allowing utilities to become more resilient, imaginative, and efficient while also adopting more cost-effective methods.
Challenges Faced By The Water Sector
When it comes to accelerating the implementation of digital water technologies, utilities encounter hurdles. Overcoming data silos and integrating systems, particularly legacy systems, is a difficulty. There are issues with human resources and the requirement to identify the return on investment of new systems. The following are some of the most common difficulties.
Aging Infrastructure – The sad situation of America's rapidly failing water infrastructure is well known, owing to a lack of investment in equipment and facility rehabilitation and replacement. According to Black & Veatch's annual poll of water, wastewater, and stormwater experts, approximately 80% of utility respondents identify aging infrastructure as the most difficult challenge facing today's industry.
Workforce Retirement – One of the most pressing issues facing utilities across the board is the replacement of retirees. This difficulty affects daily operations and limits disaster preparedness since new or younger staff may lack the requisite expertise or institutional knowledge to cope with emergency situations successfully.
Population Growth – Urbanization and population growth place additional strain on aging systems. Meeting supply demands is the first difficulty of urbanization. The second is in maintaining water quality and minimizing contaminants in the environment due to urbanization.
Is it Difficult To Implement Digitalization?
While digital water technology has a lot of promise, it is difficult to scale up use. Workforce capacity and training are two significant issues.
Due to a lack of incentives, the dangers of adopting new goods, and workers being siloed in their own department, the water sector is hesitant to accept new technology, whether the difficulties are genuine or perceived. As a result, in the water business, proven technologies are strongly preferred over unproven or new ones. Water workforces are generally untrained in digital technology solutions, which is required to grow the adoption of digital technologies.
How Does Digitalization Help The Water Industry
Digital control entails integrating and optimizing smart pumps, valves, sensors, and actuators utilizing IoT-supported, data-driven models. Digital controls also allow equipment to "speak" to one another, send data to your smartphone, and generate real-time data that can be accessed and shared over the internet. By implementing digital infrastructure, utilities can evaluate, automate, remedy, and predict problems in real time. This will enable them to handle a number of present difficulties, such as extending the life of aged assets, minimizing leaks, preventing cyber-attacks, and eliminating other irregularities in distribution network service levels. This improves supply reliability, encourages water conservation, and boosts income via operational efficiencies.
Increasing Resilience – Digital solutions include a dense network of sensors, intelligent equipment, real-time source-to-tap digital twins, data analytics, and advanced simulation tools to help utilities adapt to changing circumstances.
Improving Efficiency – Preventive and predictive maintenance capabilities can be provided by digital solutions such as detecting leaks, excessive vibration, pump bearing failure, cavitation, and asset management platforms, which can assist reduce critical asset downtime and increasing operational effectiveness and efficiency.
How Does Edge Technology Bring In Digitalization?
Cities and municipalities have benefited from the edge technology’s assistance in providing effective water and wastewater treatment. Water utilities benefit from the edge platform's better, more effective handling of the IoT component of asset management.
The water utility industry has made considerable strides in digital technology adoption. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Technology has advanced to the point where it is now possible to make a substantial leap forward and achieve real digital transformation with very little investment. Utilities must start with a clear strategic plan to create a fully digital environment. This can start with segmenting the water network into various zones and evaluating what is needed to address the difficulties that each poses. It is more efficient to start small and improve existing technology.
The Edge technology accomplishes this by connecting to a variety of current water instruments, eliminating the need for expensive new systems. Edge technology uses wired and wireless networks to communicate with water assets scattered across a large geographic region of a city. The data is subsequently transferred back to the cloud through whichever network is available.
Prashant Kapadia has 24 years of experience in industrial automation, embedded product, industrial software application design, development, manufacturing, and global business development with companies such as GE Digital, Hitachi, and currently CIMCON Digital, He has been a part of the Digital Transformation journey of many Fortune 500 organizations. Read more blog articles written by him at https://cimcondigital.com/blog.