From cooking and drinking to bathing and washing to product manufacturing to waste management, water plays a role in many of our day-to-day applications. Once it has served its role in these applications, it is not simply discarded. It is categorized as wastewater—also referred to as sewage—and sent to a wastewater treatment facility, where it is cleaned up for reuse. This water use cycle ensures we maintain a sustainable supply of safe water for the future.
The wastewater treatment process is highly complex, requiring accurate and precise measurement and control over various equipment (e.g., pumps, purifiers, and filters) and equipment parameters (e.g., pressure, flow, and filtration). By integrating measurement and control technologies into operations, wastewater facilities can ensure they achieve and maintain the proper process conditions for effective and efficient water and wastewater treatment. In recent years, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems have grown in popularity within the industry as facilities work to manage the increase in wastewater stemming from rising water use across the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
Importance of PLCs in Wastewater Treatment
Programmable logical controllers (PLCs) are ruggedized digital computers often utilized for industrial process automation. They can be used to automate a single process or machine function or an entire system setup by stopping, starting, slowing, or speeding equipment operation in response to inputs from connected devices (e.g., control panels and sensors).
In the wastewater industry, these devices help ensure treatment operations proceed smoothly with little to no human operator involvement. Some of the equipment they are typically used to control include filtration and aeration units.
Compared to older automation technology (e.g., relays and timing mechanisms), PLCs have a number of advantages, such as:
- Greater ease of use. PLCs require less time and resources to integrate as they can simply be reprogrammed to suit different process requirements and restrictions. In contrast, older automation technologies needed to be rewired to accommodate new specifications.
- Better process reliability. PLCs automate equipment operation based on data provided by various sensors and input devices. This function ensures the process conditions remain appropriate at any given time.
- Lower labor requirements. Automating wastewater treatment operations reduces the workload of human operators, freeing them up to focus on other important facility tasks.
Importance of SCADA Systems in Wastewater Treatment
PLCs are an essential component of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. SCADA systems consist of a collection of hardware and software components that collect, transmit, and distribute data across various devices within a network. The information can then be analyzed to determine whether any system adjustments are needed.
In the wastewater treatment industry, these systems are used to ensure the quality of the processed water. They provide graphical and numerical data about different process instruments and equipment and enable human operators to adjust operations accordingly in response to the provided information. These functions help ensure conditions during water treatment operations remain at effective and safe levels.
Some of the benefits of integrating SCADA systems in water and wastewater treatment facilities include:
- Improved use of existing infrastructure and resources
- Reduced risk of operator overload in situations where multiple system alarms may occur within a short period of time
- Enhanced monitoring of remote and vulnerable sites
- Decreased costs for utility companies and customers
- Better oversight over systems and processes
- Automated data collection and reporting operations
PLC and SCADA Solutions for the Wastewater Treatment Industry at Turner
PLCs and SCADA systems are key to improving water quality, increasing process efficiency, reducing labor costs, and more in wastewater treatment facilities. If you’re looking to integrate them into your facility, turn to the experts at Turner Integrated Systems.
We design, manufacture, and install control systems for a wide range of industries, including the wastewater treatment industry. Whether you need assistance with PLC programming and implementation, SCADA integration, hazardous areas design, or something else, we’ve got you covered. We will deliver an appropriate control solution and discuss how to properly use and maintain it to ensure it operates smoothly.
To learn more about our control system capabilities and how we can benefit your wastewater treatment facility, contact us today.