Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Technology in the water utility industry

In the current day and age, data-driven applications have become disruptors to daily living. Businesses are adopting modern technologies to improve their performance and reduce failures. Just like every other industry, the water utility industry can benefit from the digital technology revolution as well for handling unexpected failures and improving its performance. Unexpected failures, such as sudden downtime, are crucial and can lead to multiple issues like customer frustration, revenue losses, bad press, and increased costs for reactive repairs.
By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and big data analytics, water utilities can use the information and data available to them to make better decisions while augmenting service delivery and reducing costs. Also, AI can understand issues and fix them before they even come up. The big question here is how can AI help the water utility industry and here’s how.
Digging into data
There are over a hundred data points, including equipment usage, repair history, quality, health, and customer feedback, which can give intelligent insights to companies about their assets. When you combine these crucial data points with other equally vital details, such as CRM, maintenance history, and repair costs, you get a mix of data points.
These data points have to be categorized, analyzed, reported and tracked, and these four steps have to be deployed every single day to help with systematic data collection. This process, which involves building and connecting such data points, is called a data lake and it is efficient in finding out solutions for problems before they arise. Data can help companies reduce o[erating expenditure (OPEX), with an article saying that analytics models can help companies cut the maintenance OPEX by 10-20% every year.
Improved Resource Management
In the water utility industry, companies have to handle multiple pumps, mixers, centrifuges, and other equipment on a day-to-day basis. Apart from these, some assets could be on the ground while some can be submerged. Maintaining and repairing the equipment and assets is a tedious task, which requires deep attention to detail.
Meanwhile, AI laced with remote sensor technology can help companies ensure better maintenance, repair, and checks of their assets on an ongoing basis. AI can also help companies detect signs of breakdown and wear and tear proactively. For companies, this translates to better management and lesser costs to fix equipment.
Smart systems can locate trigger points or look at historical data points across assets and geographies to predict mechanical and electrical failures. Companies can use this technology to track the efficiency of different assets, and their performance, and assess their energy usage. These can lead to more benefits, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, and better environmental impact.
AI has the potential to reduce the OPEX of companies. A report by Bluefield Research said that AI has the potential to save 20-30% on operational expenditures by decreasing energy costs, optimizing chemical use for treatment, and enabling proactive asset maintenance. With the help of AI, emergency events can be predicted based on data patterns and the accuracy is getting better every single day.
Helping the environment
The pandemic and the recent climate change issues have pushed the world to think about different ways to meet global energy requirements. Hence, in this day and age, we cannot overlook the importance of water conservation. On top of offering insights about the quality of equipment, smart systems can also provide useful suggestions to conserve water and use it judiciously.
Satellite imagery, temperature, timing, vibration, local climate, and weather conditions, combined with the usage patterns of consumers can provide tips about using water smartly and efficiently. Smart systems can help consumers locate leaks, meaning that they don’t need to wait for days before being alerted by the authorities to fix leaks.
The power of predictive analytics
Forecasting techniques and efficient usage of modern technologies are the future of water utilities. Even though having data is crucial, making sense of the data is also vital, but oftentimes, it is a complex process. However, AI can interpret data without any hassle. AI can give early indications of faults, possible failures, and looming breakdowns. Alerts related to abnormal consumption data can help companies fix issues and they can also help the planet.
The journey to AI adoption empowers companies to pursue data-driven, intelligent management of water systems. The result is resilient, sustainable, and cost-effective water management for years to come.
Nilesh Gudhe is the CEO and founder of Bynry