Food processing plants use millions of gallons of water every day, and water treatment and wastewater management are important components of the operation. Processes that consume vast amounts of water include washing, rinsing, cooking, butchering, cleaning, disinfecting, bottling, canning, and packaging. Incoming water must be treated to ensure safety and quality before it can contact food products, and wastewater must be treated before it is reused or discharged because it contains processing debris.
The type of food product, such as meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, oils, and dairy, determines the methods the facility uses to treat the wastewater. But they all have one thing in common: Federal, state, and local regulations require food processing facilities to properly treat wastewater before it is discharged. No matter the size of the water treatment system, food processors cannot afford a malfunction, which could result in releasing untreated water, contaminating the environment, paying fines and citations, and suffering public contempt.
Remote monitoring systems are an affordable way to keep watch on water treatment conditions. They send immediate notification when a sensor reading moves outside of preset parameters. The systems integrate seamlessly into floats, pump alarm outputs, level transducers, and other equipment. Operators can check the status of the sensor readings at any time by logging into a website, calling the device, or checking an app, depending on how advanced the system is.
Here are four ways to improve water treatment management using a remote monitoring system.
1. Receive Early Notification and Conduct Predictive Maintenance
Using a remote monitoring system with water treatment and wastewater processing equipment is a low-cost way to receive immediate notification of potential malfunctions that can lead to breakdowns. Modern pumping systems typically include alarms that alert operators when a malfunction occurs. However, by integrating a remote monitoring system with the right sensors and using data logging functionality, operators can perform predictive maintenance, prevent unscheduled shutdowns, and optimize the best efficiency point of the pumps and components.
For example, many different operating conditions reduce the lifespan of a pump. A clogged intake, suction loss, or cavitation can stress components of the pump and cause it to fail prematurely. Bearing wear, deadheading, dry pumps, and impeller jams can cause early motor and pump failure. If a pump stops and no one notices right away, the malfunction can damage other equipment and send untreated water into the facility and the surrounding environment. Receiving an alert from a monitoring system as soon as possible can save a lot of time and money in clean-up costs, production downtime, and possible fines.
Advanced monitoring systems for wastewater plants can easily interface with any equipment that uses a programmable logic controller (PLC) with Modbus communications. The monitoring system directly interfaces to the PLC over Modbus, providing sensor status data on demand. It also alerts designated personnel when sensor readings move out of the normal parameters, signaling that preventive maintenance is required.
Cloud-based technology lets users check conditions from anywhere in real time from a mobile device, tablet, or computer. They can view the state of multiple water and wastewater locations, access pump run-time and flow reports, check specific equipment status and review alarm history without having to install any software. Monitoring systems also log data automatically, which enables operators to analyze trends and improve performance system-wide.
Providers of advanced monitoring systems use private cloud services that are not shared with the public. These providers monitor the cloud platform around the clock and have multiple backup server sites across the country to ensure the system is never down.
2. Select and Place Sensors
The ideal remote monitoring systems for water treatment operations should monitor Modbus data registers as well as support several digital or analog sensor inputs. This enables operators to cast a wide monitoring safety net. The selected sensors depend upon the conditions the user wants to monitor, how many base units are in use, and how many sensors each unit can handle. Typical conditions to monitor include tank levels, pump status, flow rate, turbidity, temperature, humidity, water leaks, vibration, pressure, run times, power, and voltage.