MUNICIPAL 4.0 – “thinking” system technology for water management

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Water, the liquid gold. Even today, it triggers fights between humans, especially in regions of the world where it has always been rare and consequently precious. In the Arab world, for example, international corporations are securing water rights for themselves as if they were staking out new oil fields; in more and more provinces in China,  the access to clean drinking water is already luxury.

And in the USA, increasing groundwater pollution is being tolerated achieve an undreamt-of economic upswing with gas extraction through fracking. On the other hand, climate change is increasingly causing extreme weather events with unprecedented rainfall and flooding. In our latitudes, more and more extreme requirements for water demand regulation, precipitation drainage and wastewater treatment have to be balanced with predominantly medium standard situations. All over the world, water experts are asking themselves the questions of how we manage the present circumstances and which increasingly dynamic factors we consider to shape the future. New requirements in water management is somewhat no one has ever considered on the agenda before. Or have they? Let’s take a look at Germany on the occasion of the World Water Day on 22 March 2015, which has the motto “Water and Sustainable Development”.

Here, experts have been intensively working on solutions for sustainable water infrastructure management for years. When it comes to environmental technology and management solutions, Germany in particular is well ahead. But how can these two core competencies be combined in a meaningful way?

Let’s take a closer look into the future, for example, the year 2025, to a specific place in Germany. Let’s call it “Cleverdorf”: As in the days before, it rained heavily in Cleverdorf today. For a July, that’s nothing special anymore. “Climate change – is catastrophe on its way?” is the headline in the newspapers. The consequences in Cleverdorf are limited in contrast to the surrounding villages. It is no longer a flooded city center or a flooded cellar. In recent years, the municipality has acted cleverly and decided to convert the sewer network and the entire sewage system into a “self-thinking” network. Today, the municipality can accurately predict the amount of rainfall thanks to a connection to the Web-based precipitation portal NiRA.web. The system offers rainfall data as an archive, current data and exact forecasts for the next 72 hours. At the same time, more and more operational data from all objects in the system, such as pumping stations, stormwater tanks, sewage treatment plants or water consumption data, is collected on a central web portal. Here, algorithms use hundreds of criteria to calculate the best operating regime for each weather situation and return the data to the objects for control. In this way, the entire infrastructure of the municipality is prepared for changing precipitation conditions at any time.

Cleverdorf clearly uses these data to optimize the operational processes, saving energy and material. Free capacities in the individual sewage treatment plants can thus be better utilized and the overloading or under-utilization of individual plants can be avoided through smart control. Seasonal fluctuations in wastewater or supplements such as the data integration of the salt quantities of the scattering service in winter are now no longer a “surprise” in wastewater system. In the past, all this data was merely collected; today, it is cleverly networked and thus facilitates foresighted operational management. Furthermore, thanks to the reliable forecast and control of wastewater volumes, the municipality has succeeded in optimally expanding the use of heat from wastewater flows. The energy gained for the municipality is enormous.

A vision? Technically, many things are already realized. The monitoring of machines, plants and special structures by using sophisticated sensor technology and mobile measurement technology is standard in many places today. State-of-the-art data acquisition and evaluation such as smartSCADA (for monitoring machines) and SCADA.web (for monitoring and controlling plants) brings  many possibilities for data monitoring and processing. Moreover, a cross-object operation management system such as KANiO® (for managing and organizing workflow and reporting) supports the efficient management of the entire infrastructure system.

Now the next step is taking place: the superior central integration of all this data and information on an innovative, user-friendly platform with tailored-made solutions and tools for a future-proof infrastructure management for the diverse tasks of the water management and, if required, beyond. This is Municipal 4.0.

 

In Cleverdorf, this future has arrived in 2025 and the exchange of knowledge and experience with other municipalities via data portals is already the norm. The planning and dimensioning of new equipment not only takes the past into account, but thanks to innovative simulation tools, they also take advantage of an accurate view of the future. Unnecessary reserves are no longer necessary and demographic change is no longer a challenge as part of the database.

We, HST Systemtechnik, have already developed systemic application and networking proposals for technical and operational equipment and facilities of progressive municipalities in cooperation with national and international planning offices and have successfully implemented the networking of different IT providers, sensor technology and automation as well as of machines and plants with corresponding key components. We consider the collection, evaluation and processing of data and the associated connection with application technology as the key to efficient decision-making and control processes as well as to more secure and more economic procedures in municipal operations. In many cases, better information is used to improve the efficiency of the process without compromising the security level. Joint developments and project work of the two business units of HST (Machinery & Plants and IT & Automation) enable the fulfillment of Municipal 4.0.

Let’s start by talking about your individual requirements. We are pleased to give you suggestions in a keynote speech at your premises. Become another Cleverdorf and we will help you!

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