Wastewater treatment plants have high maintenance costs because they are inspected by technicians on site. A digital solution with cloud connection enables real-time monitoring from a distance – including the determination of energy consumption.
The challenge: Energy and maintenance cause high costs
A wastewater treatment plant is clearly more than just a sequence of basins. This includes pumps that move wastewater around the plant and blowers that use air to help settle sediment. Since this process is to achieve drinking water quality, all compressors and blowers must operate oil-free.
At a typical wastewater treatment plant, these machines account for 60-70 percent of energy costs – as is the case at the Bad Pyrmont-Lügde community wastewater treatment plant, as an energy analysis by the operator shows. The plant is designed for a maximum load of about 65,000 inhabitants, connected at the moment are a little more than 43,000 inhabitants in Bad Pyrmont and the neighboring town of Lügde.
The wastewater treatment plant was completely renovated a few years ago, and now the next modernization step is on the agenda: The digitalization of the machinery to reduce energy costs. In addition, digital solutions also simplify maintenance. Wastewater treatment plants are located outside of municipalities, so regular inspection of the plants is costly. In Bad Pyrmont, the pumping stations are 16 kilometers away.
The solution: Regular monitoring of operating parameters
For the introduction of digital solutions, the wastewater treatment plant is working with Aerzen Digital from Hameln. The digitization specialist is a subsidiary of the Aerzen Group, a supplier of blowers and compressors for wastewater treatment. Its solution AERprogess offers new possibilities for resource-saving, energy-efficient process design with data-based services.
AERprogess is a modular solution that provides monitoring and supervision of the entire plant, preventive maintenance and control of energy consumption. It determines CO2 levels, energy costs and air quality. The data reaches the control room, is processed there and then sent to the cloud.
Even the basic module with monitoring and supervision makes work easier for the operators of the wastewater treatment plant: They receive all information about the current condition of the plants and are alerted to problems at an early stage. The two additional modules for condition monitoring and energy management increase efficiency even further.
The digital solution detects potential failures even if a failure is still in the distant future. This extends the service life of the plant and reduces maintenance costs. Energy management helps to monitor energy costs and reduce them through appropriate measures.
The result: Higher efficiency and sustainability
Data-based monitoring allows wastewater treatment plant operators to monitor their machines on a continuous basis, rather than just at a specific point in time, as is the case with regular maintenance rounds. As a result, problems are detected earlier and downtimes are shortened. Among other things, it is now possible to order spare parts early. It is no longer necessary to maintain cleaning and operation by repair attempts with spare parts on hand.
Monitoring also helps reduce energy costs. For example, many components such as air filter cartridges have increased energy consumption when they are heavily worn and have reached the end of their life cycle. By monitoring energy consumption, operators are able to detect wear and tear early and replace the appropriate parts before they reach the point of high cost failure.
Ultimately, digitization also serves sustainability and the prevention of water scarcity. The drought of 2018-2020 has shown: even in Central Europe, which is basically rich in rainfall, there are regions with water shortages. One solution to this problem is the treatment of industrial municipal wastewater into fresh water that can be used both as drinking water and in agriculture. Digitization offers opportunities here that are still too little recognized.