Water utilities are increasingly using digital twin technology at the asset level to optimize maintenance and lower costs. Here’s how a wastewater utility in Europe used digital twin technology to solve cavitation issues at a pumping station.
Digital twin technology helps water utilities improve the reliability and lifetime of their assets, reduce unplanned maintenance, and decrease OpEx and CapEx costs. Xylem Smart Asset Management Performance & Reliability Optimization (SAM PRO) is a unique decision-intelligence tool, rooted in digital twin technology, designed exactly for these purposes.
SAM PRO provides utilities with full monitoring, diagnostic and prediction insights into an asset’s technical and performance condition. The solution can be easily retrofitted to any piece of equipment. First, sensors are attached to the asset, like a pump, mixer or blower. The sensors capture and process data, such as temperature, pressure and electric parameters.
This data is then transmitted to a secure cloud or data management system and used to build a real-time dashboard and analysis reports. The dashboard enables operators to quickly detect and diagnose operational anomalies and triggers proactive maintenance or asset replacement alerts as needed.
Ultimately, SAM PRO improves process efficiency by precisely correlating technical machine conditions with process conditions. It increases the lifetime of assets through benchmarking and diagnostic insights, which can also improve the performance of other digital twins in the network.
Real-time performance insights at a pumping station
When a major wastewater utility in Europe was facing cavitation issues at one of its pumping stations for treated sewage water, an asset-level digital twin application was deployed as part of the utility’s control strategy.
The pumping station was responsible for transporting water over a long and complex network towards the ocean, which ultimately led to variable water levels. Due to this variability, the pumps were operating in an uncontrollable state of cavitation. Variables in ocean tide levels and treatment outputs also made it impossible for operators to set the right pump control strategy.
SAM PRO was used to define the acceptable operating parameters for the pumps. By optimizing the pump station system performance, the utility was able to increase the reliability and total lifetime of its assets. Not only did this eliminate unplanned service visits to the site, but it also improved overall system efficiency, resulting in significant OpEx and CapEx savings.
“Using digital twin technology, the SAM PRO solution provided real-time performance insights that allowed the utility to easily identify when assets were operating outside of their best efficiency zone,” says Mike Otten, Director, Systems Intelligence at Xylem.
“Working in collaboration with the team on the ground, we were able to integrate the data sets from across the utility’s assets and systems. By optimizing their systems, we could accurately predict and prevent pump failures caused by excessive cavitation. For the first time, the total cost of ownership of the assets is fully under control.”
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