Ideas and solutions for the digital transformation in municipal water management
In Germany, about 6 to 7 billion euros are invested every year in the municipal water management and flood protection sectors in the renovation or new construction of buildings and technical equipment. Of this amount, 4.5 billion euros alone are spent on wastewater disposal. In the past, the German wastewater infrastructure has developed in a socially and geographically balanced manner and has grown over many decades as an established and standardized system. Although this today ensures disposal throughout the country with a high degree of drainage safety, it also means an extremely long-standing technical and economic service lifespan for plants and networks. As a result, there is, among other things, a lack of operational flexibility, which can become an obstacle for sewer network and wastewater treatment plant operators – in view of drastic changes, including those resulting from industrialization, changing consumer behavior and demographic upheavals.
In the past, the provision of necessary capacities was calculated based solely on maximum demand. Accordingly, the plants and facilities, such as sewer treatment plants, sewer systems or water supply facilities, were dimensioned and built on a large scale. However, the fluctuations between minimum and maximum demand were smaller in the past than they are today because, for example, there was less heavy rainfall. In all infrastructure systems of municipal water management and flood protection, therefore, the first question today is how a sufficient and efficient balance between minimum and maximum demand can be achieved. When planning new structures and the associated equipment technologies, the maximum demand should no longer be the only focus, but it must, nevertheless, be adequately considered. There are various considerations in this respect, such as taking unused, and thus too expensive to maintain, sections of sewer out of service or installing smaller technical units in a decentralized manner. Moreover, more and more studies are being carried out and concepts are being drawn up on how the existing infrastructure can be managed better and more efficiently with extended data collection and evaluation. With a higher data density and the consideration of real-time data, solutions are also being developed that can better adapt to dynamic requirements.
MUNICIPAL 4.0: WINNER OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S "SMART SERVICE WORLD" DIGITIZATION INITIATIVE
For more than 20 years, HST Systemtechnik has been offering comprehensive solutions for water supply and wastewater treatment and flood protection that integrate mechanical engineering and IT. The intelligent control of machines and equipment has long been state-of-the-art. Stimulated by the developments in the environment of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT), HST has decided to make machines and plants even more intelligent with the new possibilities of comprehensive Web-based data acquisition and analysis. A network integration of decentralized objects in infrastructure systems enables a more flexible and efficient operational management of municipal network structures as well as makes them more secure and thus future-proof. With its web-based products SCADA.web, KANiO.web and NiRA.web, HST has already taken the first steps towards the next technical (r)evolution.
Now the Municipal 4.0 project has been selected as one of the 16 winners of the BMWi’s “Smart Service Welt” technology competition from around 130 applicants for funding.
MUNICIPAL 4.0 creates new networking possibilities for a modern and more efficient network management by implementing Web-based data and service platforms and the corresponding application tools. HST, as the pioneer and consortium leader of this project, is thus significantly shaping the digital change in the water industry. The project MUNICIPAL 4.0, supervised by technology companies (HST Systemtechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Pegasys GmbH and SüdWasser GmbH) and scientists (ifak e. V., University of Applied Sciences Cologne – Campus Gummersbach, IEEM gGmbH), has succeeded as the only idea from the environment of the water industry in a competition exclusively dominated by industry. In addition to technical application developments, the project focuses on innovative solutions to comply with the new IT security law for critical infrastructures.
Development results are tested in reality
At the core of KOMMUNAL 4.0 are various Web applications which, on the basis of modern data acquisition and evaluation, will simplify the daily operations of future users. These Web applications offer solutions to the following main topics:
- Portal solution, e.g. for sharing concepts, price comparison list overviews and material procurement
- Overloaded sewage treatment plants, stormwater basins and flood protection systems
- Activation of storage capacity and reduction of discharges and overflows
- Networking of regulating devices or flow regulators
- Structured operational management
- Network-wide organizational monitoring, reporting and immediate alerting
- Integration of precipitation data for monitoring, control and maintenance of special structures and networks
- Big Data: Automated evaluation of various process data for quick assessment of processes and conditions
- Superior network and plant management through data aggregation and evaluation of object data (stormwater tanks, pumping stations, sewage treatment plants, polders, flood retention basins etc.), precipitation data (NiRA.web), event data (expected people, flood and sewage quantities and loads), water consumption data and revision plans.
An essential component of MUNICIPAL 4.0 is also the trial of the Web applications in real projects. For this purpose, first cooperations with municipal network and object operators have already been agreed upon, further application projects are planned. In so-called pilot applications, newly developed Web applications are tested in real applications, such as “Simulation and Benchmarking of Water Management Objects”, “Energy and Heat Analysis from Waste Water Flows”, “Connection of Road Salt Use and Wastewater Treatment in Wastewater Inflows to Sewage Treatment Plants in Winter Times” or “Gully Management”.
MUNICIPAL 4.0 thus stands as the epitome of the digital transformation in municipal water management, enabling municipalities to overcome future challenges not only with technology but also with foresight, flexibility and economy.