Introduction to Industry 4.0
The four industrial revolutions can be summarized as the transition of the process and manufacturing industries through mechanization, electrification, automation and finally digitalization which is called as Industry 4.0
The applications of Industry 4.0 in water and wastewater (often referred as Water 4.0) includes:
1. Advanced process monitoring, datalogging and networking solutions using Industry Internet of Things (IIoT)
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms/engines to fine tune process setpoints such as DO, forward feed flowrate, MLSS recycle rates, etc.
3. Digital twins to align the automation with process modelling and implement an early warning system for process upsets.
4. Condition monitoring and maintenance/asset management.
5. Monitoring the operation of pumps/blowers/dosing equipment and comparing performance with their expected curves.
6. Monitoring and Modelling of Plant and Energy Performance.
All these application domains can easily overcome the computing constraints of conventional PLC, DCS & SCADA systems and is exactly what the digitalization age envisages.
First Step towards the Water 4.0
The prerequisite for all the Water 4.0 enabling technologies is the seamless transparency of the data from the process nodes through the multiple network layers to the MES. On the contrary, many of the existing technologies (including Fieldbus) and network standards are still underutilized in the water industry. Engineers tend to choose traditional hardwired connections over Fieldbus, due to bugs common in the earlier networks. In fact, Fieldbus technologies have evolved through ages and are currently reliable enough even in fail-safe applications.
Implementing Fieldbus for valves, instruments, dosing pumps and other OEM packages can increase the PLC engagement to the process without adding a significant CAPEX because most of them are purely software engineering manhours. The function blocks once developed can be reused without much re-engineering and thus cost-saving increases over time in the context of manpower and cable footprint.
To summarise, the following are the first few steps that could be implemented by the water industry to embrace Industry 4.0:
• FEED engineers to specify more fieldbus technologies to integrate OEM package units, instruments and equipment. This must start with capex intensive equipment like blowers, dosing units, process analyzers etc.
• Specify Performance monitoring, energy audit function blocks and faceplates in the User Requirement Specification as a standard practice.
• Specify OPC-UA broadcasting as a standard feature in tender documents to avoid redeploying automation teams for integration with a digital twin or IIOT. All the key process setpoints like the hydraulic throughput, process setpoints shall be made accessible over OPC-UA for future integration of digital twins.
Handling the bottleneck of legacy systems and conventional 4-20mA loops.
Even if it is more economical in the short term to maintain existing instruments and equipment, a strategy must be put in place (in line with Industry 4.0) for upgrades and replacements. This ensures the plant/facility embraces digitalization over 5-10 years.
Welcoming Steps from Vendors
Vendors boast about their networking features and inbuilt smart algorithms, but in general, they are expensive add-ons, unfortunately, this is a deterrent for the industry. To encourage the industry to adopt the field networks, vendors should consider scaling down the prices of these add-on bus adapters and communication cards.
Preparing the water industry to stand firm in the 4.0 revolution.
Even though Industry 4.0 is a new term derived only in the last decade, it is only an extension of the existing technologies in real-time applications, with only a very few additions such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and cloud applications. Therefore, only an extensive application of Fieldbus technologies (existing or new), can prepare the water industry to stand firm in the 4.0 revolution.
Please contact WEW Engineering, if you require Wastewater Treatment solutions.