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Digital Transformation in Water Management: The Role of Fiber Optics

Digital transformation in water management the role of fiber optics

When the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) first came on the scene, many had high hopes for the water treatment industry. This is an industry plagued with aging infrastructure, a dwindling workforce, and reduced capital expenditure.

Unfortunately, hopes of an integrated, seamless, and efficient management system were dashed because it wasn’t practical or affordable until now.

Due to advancements in fiber optic cabling, smart water management (SWM) can now fulfill its potential of finally making water management future-ready.

How Smart Water Management is Transforming the Industry

SWM leverages IIoT to provide real-time, automated water data analysis at your fingertips. While the technology for collecting and distributing data has existed for a while, fiber cabling makes this process instantaneous.

Once deployed, SWM achieves four main things:

  1. Reduces water waste – The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reported that a water main breaks every two minutes, leading to 6 billion gallons of treated water loss per day. The primary reason for this loss is aging infrastructure. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make $50 billion available to the water management industry, this isn’t enough to replace old parts. A more affordable option is to deploy smart meters.

Smart meters can pinpoint where leaks occur in near real-time by monitoring pressure, flow, temperature, distance between sensors, and other parameters. This saves money and water resources that are scarce due to climate change.

2. Improves water quality and reduces pollution – According to the United Nations, 80% of all worldwide wastewater goes back into the ecosystem untreated. Smart water facilities can monitor the water quality and help treatment plants remove more nitrogen, phosphorous, and bacteria from wastewater. This can be accomplished by deploying an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) system to monitor pollution levels and predict water quality.

3. Enhances the customer experience – According to the EPA, household leaks waste up to 900 billion gallons of water annually. This amounts to a nationwide loss of $9 billion. Smart home meters can help customers identify how much money is wasted and where the loss comes from. This is particularly handy for homes with irrigation systems. SWM can also help utility providers better predict customer demand and automatically adjust.

4. Modernizes SCADA systems – SWM is designed to improve connectivity and communication. After all, being able to collate a ton of data without delivering it to the right device at the right team would be fruitless.

Unlike traditional distributed control systems (DCS), a supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA) is more integrated and centralized. While SCADA systems have existed for decades, data delivery was still slow. Fiber cable networks allow you to access real-time data, no matter how vast the water management system is.

Harnessing the Power of Fiber is Key

Fiber cables’ agility, reliability, and connectivity have made all these improvements possible. Unlike copper cables and wireless networks, fiber cables provide unlimited bandwidth and can carry signals over much longer distances with considerably less signal loss.

Information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) convergence is reshaping the industry landscape. In the past, facilities such as water treatment plants operated with isolated systems. For instance, a Wi-Fi network served the plant’s main office, while a separate radio system-controlled gates and sluices within the facility. However, as operations evolve, there’s a compelling need for a unified connectivity solution that underpins a comprehensive approach to digital transformation.

With its abundant bandwidth, Fiber offers a forward-looking, dependable, and secure platform to meet the connectivity demands of water and sewer facilities today and in the future. Fiber cables are impervious to electromagnetic interference (EMI), withstand vibration, moisture, and temperature variations, and cover longer distances with minimal maintenance compared to other systems like copper. Fiber optics are lighter than copper but can withstand more pressure, making them ideal for the harsh industrial water management environment.

Furthermore, its installation is more streamlined than mesh wireless solutions that rely on towers and conspicuous radio equipment.

Modernize your Water Treatment with Fiber and SWM

The need for modernization is evident, particularly given recent water shortages and infrastructure failures. The good news for municipalities and utility companies is that a significant opportunity has arisen. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s recent passage, a substantial $50 billion in funding is available for upgrading America’s aging water delivery systems.

Municipal water and sewer plant operators find themselves at a critical point. In a time when resources are limited, the urgency to enhance efficiency by embracing digital technology has never been greater. Additionally, with substantial government subsidies allocated for infrastructure investment, the time to act is now. Fiber optics emerges as the strongest and most forward-thinking solution to provide comprehensive connectivity, meeting current and future needs.

Now is the time to explore further and embark on a transformative journey. Contact our team to learn how we can help you become future-ready.

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