Pumps & Systems staff spoke with Mueller Water Products CTO Hassan Ali about the state of the industry entering 2019.
What are the biggest benefits to organizations that are embracing IIoT technologies?
Digital technologies like IoT, cloud computing, augmented reality, analytics and artificial technologies are giving utilities awareness and control over their operations and insights into detecting problems early. Utilities are using this to solve their issues of aging infrastructure and workforce, rising operational costs and water quality and security.
What is your company (or the ones you serve) doing to address the skills gap?
To address issues of aging workforce many utilities are turning to building digital models of their infrastructure to capture tribal knowledge used by their retiring workforce. Software solutions like ESRI, help utilities create a digital model of the water distribution systems. These models not only represent the geographical model of the distribution system but also the functional model.
On the functional side, Mueller’s Mi.Net system links service connections, distribution sensors and control devices in a technology ecosystem for real-time access and control. By using the LoRaWAN open architecture standards, the Mi.Net platform gathers hourly usage data from meters in the distribution network. This data is collected and transferred across the network to alert utilities of leaks, bursts or other emergent conditions, allowing them to efficiently allocate resources. New employees now have access to data that very often came from years of compounded knowledge.
Automation and more predictable operations allow utilities to reduce man hours in the field and better allocate human resources as needed. Most of these technologies are available as a service which makes it economically feasible for a utility of any size. Mueller System’s Network Operations Center, for example, monitors over 150 water distribution networks in North America.