How remote monitoring can contribute to operational success

Veolia - wastewater

Embracing digital technology will have a vital role to play in the safe, efficient and effective management of wastewater. Whether it is to minimise the impact of increasingly extreme weather events, reducing health risks or simply to streamline operational expenditure – digital monitoring and remote services can provide long term value. Here, William Jeal, Business Manager – Municipal & Digital Services at Veolia Water Technologies UK discusses the benefits.

The events of the past year have highlighted the importance of having measures in place to deal with unpredictable events. This can be in the form of the extreme weather that the UK experienced during the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 or the COVID-19 pandemic that fundamentally changed both how businesses function and the way people work. Having systems in place that are flexible to meet the needs of any situation is now crucial to the success of many organisations.

There may be a number of reasons why businesses need to operate as usual but with a reduced number of people on site. For example, extreme weather events can disrupt travel or render sites inaccessible, especially where they are located in more rural areas. This can mean that key personnel are able to operate, monitor or maintain equipment.

Furthermore, at times, restricting the number of people who visit the site on health and safety grounds could be necessary, including employees or specialists from partner organisations. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, remote working has become a new way of life. However, for some businesses and facilities, such as manufacturers or industrial processing plants – remote working was simply not possible but halting operations was not an option.

Wastewater treatment systems, regardless of the size or type, play a crucial part in the operation of many different types of business. It is vital that these systems continue to operate as intended to ensure all environmental and quality standards are being met. In many cases this requires the person responsible for monitoring the system to be on site and even carry out physical checks of the plant to ensure it is running at optimum levels. An issue with the wastewater treatment system will severely impact the organisation’s ability to operate and can even result in enforcement action if the discharged water does not comply with the required standards.

Therefore, it is important to consider how operations can be adapted to ensure continuity regardless of the challenges that might be faced. Remote monitoring and digital services for wastewater treatment systems can provide a solution.

These remote monitoring systems are relatively simple to implement and scalable to suit both smaller and larger sites. Internet enabled monitoring devices are installed on all relevant equipment and the data is transmitted back to a central cloud-based platform where it is aggregated and displayed in real time on a dashboard overview.

The system will alert the user to any issues with the equipment and allows adjustments to be made to the operational parameters of the plant, without needing to physically access it.
As the system is cloud based, the real-time data can be accessed remotely from an internet enabled device, removing the need for the user to be on site. This means that in the event that staff cannot or should not be on site, the wastewater treatment plant can be monitored and controlled.

Service engineers from a water treatment specialist can also view the data to conduct a detailed check on the performance of the equipment as part of the regular maintenance cycle. Adjustments can then be made as required but if no further action is needed the engineer will not need to visit the site. Also, in the event of an issue with the plant, the engineer can access the data remotely and either guide the on-site team through the required steps or make a recommendation on the action needed to return it to optimum performance.

In addition to these benefits, investing in digital monitoring services can help to optimise the performance of the system to achieve cost savings in both energy usage and chemical consumption. It can also help to enhance both the hydraulic and biological capacity. For example, the sophisticated algorithm-based optimisation that is a feature of our AQUAVISTA™ Plant digital monitoring solution delivers as much as a 40% increase in biological load with the same effluent concentrations and between a 20% and 100% higher flow rate through the wastewater treatment process. This increased capacity can help to reduce operational expenditure and may also allow businesses to meet increased demand or stricter water discharge standards without the need for further capital expenditure on new assets or facilities.

Finally, digital monitoring services can also help to minimise and predict maintenance requirements, preventing costly downtime in the event of system breakdown and further expenditure on repairs or even replacement systems.

At VWT UK, we have invested in the development of our AQUAVISTA™ digital services. The range includes a number of packages, including Plant, Portal and Assist that can each be tailored to the requirements of the individual plant or facility. Customers are also supported by a UK based customer services team and have access to our 24/7 specialist engineers who are always on hand to help make sense of the data collected by your system and provide optimisation advice.

It is impossible to predict how and when normal operations may be affected by events outside of the organisation’s control. Therefore, technology and solutions that provide remote monitoring and access to key systems can offer the operational flexibility required. This, alongside the cost saving benefits of improved monitoring and optimisation means a positive and potentially swift return on investment.

To find out more about Veolia Water Technologies’ AQUAVISTA™ suite of digital services visit