How Data & Analytics Can Improve Industrial Wastewater Operations

Industrial waste is cleaned before it is sent back to your company’s production lines, a local water source, or allowed to enter city sewers to go for treatment in your local waste district’s water treatment plant. As the wastewater produced in different industries can be full of pollutants, treating the water is important. The food industry may have high levels of ammonia, fat, and coliform bacteria. Power stations can have high levels of heavy metals. Treating water from these industries must be done correctly to prevent harm to people or the environment.

Managers and owners of industrial operations must carefully monitor and analyze each aspect of wastewater operations. Why? It’s important when it comes to your company’s bottom line. You need to make sure wastewater is treated effectively. You don’t want to risk releasing untreated overflow or water that doesn’t meet current guidelines for some reason. Fines for the release of untreated or poorly treated water can be costly both in terms of money and in damage to your company’s reputation. You also need to make sure you’re not wasting money on inefficient operations and excessive maintenance.

Optimizing industrial wastewater treatment is best done by paying attention to the data your systems collect. Use your operational data to look for trends and patterns in all stages of the wastewater treatment process. If you have updated wastewater equipment, it’s easy to capture data and analyze it. From there, you can predict trends, optimize your processes, and get the best practices in place for efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

What Can You Learn From Data Collection and Wastewater Analytics?

What can you learn as you analyze your data? There’s a lot to be learned. An efficient wastewater treatment plant is one that handles the highs and lows, doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and repairs, and provides real-time reports to ensure water meets standards before it’s recycled or returned to a body of water. Through predictive analysis, you should be able to get a better understanding of these five areas.

First, you’re able to see what equipment is not operating as well as it can. If you have machines that are often down for maintenance, it’s costing you money. It’s impacting your wastewater treatment processes. You’ve collected data and find that one piece of equipment struggles to keep up with flow rates. Upgrading may be what it takes to have a more productive wastewater treatment system.

Second, you can track energy usage and flow rates. There may be specific times of day that wastewater rates slow down and other times when they peak. If pumps are operating at the same speed during all of these changes, it’s wasting energy. You can cut energy costs by creating systems that better accommodate the highs and lows.

Third, you’ll see where chemicals are used and if they’re being overused or not used enough. This helps keep your chemical costs to a minimum while also meeting the requirements for the water quality being released to a body of water or reused.

Fourth, you can look at the wastewater you do have and see if there are better ways to reuse it or clean it for release into the environment. Recycling wastewater is one of the best ways to keep costs down. If you could reuse water several times, you’re saving money on water bills. You don’t want dirty water impacting production. Data and analytics help you find the right balance.

Fifth, the other benefit to analytics in wastewater treatment has to do with your equipment. Say you’re seeing data that shows one pump is often breaking down and needing maintenance. You can see how much extra time and money is being spent on repairs. You’ll know if the equipment is still worth keeping or if it’s time to replace it.

How Do You Collect the Data You Need?

Of course, there are hurdles companies face when collecting the information. If even one piece of equipment isn’t connected and communicating with the others, data will be missing. That makes it hard to get a complete picture of the treatment process and quality. Data management tools that connect everything become essential. You may need to invest in additional training so that you and your employees understand what the data means and how to use it to your advantage.

You’re probably already taking the first big step in collecting data at each key point of your water treatment measures. If you have a SCADA system like many industrial settings, you have access to important data. You’re seeing the flow rates as water comes into the screens and grit collectors. You get measurements of the pollutants in the water that’s being treated. Before it’s released, you can see the numbers and make sure they meet federal and state standards. Pair the SCADA system with modern control systems and you have all of the information you need to start analyzing your plants’ processes.

A Sharp Biological Nutrient Removal (SharpBNR) control system helps you monitor your system and adjust aeration as needed to balance the oxygen levels in the wastewater as it’s treated. The computerized control system continually monitors the system status and makes adjustments. Alarms go off if there are problems beyond the system’s scope.

SharpBNR can be partnered with your plant’s SCADA system. Within a SCADA system, you have sensors taking readings at different pieces of wastewater equipment. Readings typically include measurements for flow rates, suspended solids, pump speeds, and Dissolved Oxygen. Those readings are shown on a screen for supervisors and operators. Each screen, grit pump, basin, etc. shows yesterday’s flow and today’s flow. That data can be analyzed to look for unusual changes and peak hours.

As your system begins to analyze the numbers, it learns the necessary adjustments to effectively manage each component. You can also add motor starters and Variable Frequency Drives with the SharpBNR for optimal management. As this information is available from any authorized and connected computer terminal, you can monitor readings from your office and get alerts wherever you happen to be at that moment.

What does that mean? The system is going to be more reliable than it has been because the computer can monitor several components at the same time. Instead of having workers in different areas communicating what they’re seeing, the computer has all of the information in real-time. Adjustments are made by the computer, which continues monitoring the changes and making small adjustments until everything is running smoothly. That reduces energy costs at the same time.

You do need to keep the sensors clean so that the data that’s returned is accurate. While your maintenance team may not be doing as much on repairs, remember they’ll be beneficial at cleaning and calibrating older sensors. This ensures you have accurate information to use as you analyze your industry’s water treatment processes.

SCADA systems are great at real-time tracking and giving warnings of problems as they come up, the systems don’t do as well at predicting future problems weeks or months in advance. Smart analytics fills this gap. Analyzing the data carefully is one way to predict machines or components that are reaching their end-of-life stages.

How modern is your equipment? Would upgrading help you? If your older wastewater equipment lacks some of today’s computerized controls, it can turn data and predictive analytics into a time-consuming task. Talk to Lakeside Equipment about your current set up and learn ways to make your industrial wastewater operations more cost-effective and efficient.