From IT computer server rooms to automotive factories, improved productivity is a reality thanks to modern automation technologies. Membrane water treatment plant operations can be supervised by the same intelligent controls, easy-to-use human interfaces, and industrial SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems that are used in other industries.
New Technology Invites New Techniques
Automation is not new to water treatment plants – it has been a hot topic of conversation since before the 1970s. What makes adoption of the latest techniques such as SCADA a must is the precision requirements of advanced filtration techniques, such as low-pressure microfiltration (MF) and Reverse Osmosis (RO). As viable answers to emerging regulatory requirements for new plant construction, these technologies are also being used to retrofit existing plants. They can increase capacity and provide populations with improved water quality.
Automation also plays a role in making MF/RO technologies viable. New human machine interface (HMI) screens present easily readable process input and measurement information which allows for greater operational flexibility. Valve timing and control sequences can be optimized with much greater precision to improve membrane production. Water industry specific software platforms r reduce the need for custom programming for data collection, while new hardware allows more advanced math processing for the complex calculations required by industry leading filtration systems.
Keeping Pace with SCADA
Water distribution systems are making use of SCADA, wireless communication, and GIS (geographic information systems) to manage operations over wide areas with fine resolution. In-plant operation can also benefit from similar technologies to draw together all phases of operation and provide dynamic control that optimizes results, costs, and use of manpower.
SCADA systems implement a control room-to-valve and sensor oversight and control the network. They operate in real time and allow for production schedule updates, data gathering for regulatory and in-plant review, and even the ability to upgrade physical and software-based processes as needed. SCADA systems take advantage of technological improvements in a holistic and responsive fashion.
Agile operations employ intelligent systems which rely on humans for final judgment calls and priority setting, but use programming which understands the MF/RO processes. This monitors the large number of sensors employed by them to keep the plant in top running condition.
SCADA components throughout the plant implement the data gathering and command implementation. They are centrally directed to achieve optimum goals as a whole, rather than simply following established processes in each treatment step.
A Giant Leap Forward
Coordinated automation provides the opportunity to achieve quality and performance results which were not possible before without intelligent central control and human oversight. The plant could improve its numbers over time, addressing specific operational deficits, but results could only follow an upward trend during that process and not cling tightly to optimum values. Data review and optimization decisions now happen in real time, rather than on a periodic basis.
Harn R/O Systems believes that the future of quality in the membrane treatment industry is in the company's practices and products, implemented in modern systems. As a world leader in our industry with quality second to none, we believe the advantage is clear.