The information system now enables the mostly automated acquisition and provision of data such as wastewater input into the plant, its pollutant load, and the flow velocities through the numerous valves and pipelines required for plant operation monitoring and mandatory documentation to fulfi legal requirements. An extensive range of sensors and analytical equipment are used to collect data.
Currently, 1,800 measured variables are processed. Data from an analytics lab at Infraserv Höchst are also imported into the platform as part of data acquisition. Furthermore, historical data from the previous system recorded as far back as 2009 were integrated into the new information system.
More accurate and reliable
The data used in the new system, which are much more accurate and reliable, generate better key performance indicators, the pilot has learned.
This is mainly due to automated data collection and KPI calculation. Sources of error through manually recording and transferring data from one document or system to the next and separately calculating KPI’s have been largely eliminated. The more reliable data collection results in a much more precise and user-friendly analysis of the highly complex processes involved in biological water treatment. Specific parameters, such as the dirt load at various processing stages, can also be visualised over a user-definable timeline.
Other highlights of the new system include digital operating logs, automated report generation for the site management and the authorities responsible for supervising the overall plant. Automated sample planning with label printing additionally facilitates the operation of the plant. All in all, the plant is already running much more efficiently, even though only the first project stage has been completed so far. The reduction of working hours for processing the data right up to the delivery of the extensive reports is remarkable already today, InfraServ Wiesbaden states. The partners also want to reduce the materials cost during the entire water cleaning process for the future. However, typical for such a pilot project, it’s too early to estimate overall cost savings.
The biological water treatment plant that runs non-stop around the clock is one of the industrial facilities managed by InfraServ Wiesbaden in the industrial park. The main wastewater treatment facilities were built in 1972 on Petersaue, an island on the Rhine river, close to the industrial park. Additional auxiliary facilities, such as the pump station, are located opposite the mainland on the Rhine riverbank.
Second and third stage
In the second stage of the pilot project that started in January 2021, the focus has shifted to data analytics on the IIoT-based platform. Once systematic data acquisition is achieved, the project team can define performance indicators to be calculated by the system. These performance indicators are used for detailed data analysis to optimise processes and reduce material costs.
In the next few months, more process data will gradually be integrated into the system.
As a result, it will be possible to reveal correlations between contaminated wastewater streams pumped from specific companies in the industrial park to the water treatment plant and the optimised raw materials input required for the cleaning process. Another result might be a more efficient temperature setting to optimise the microbes’ cleaning ability in specific parts of the plant. The data-driven control of the wastewater flow velocity through valves and other plant components is another expected result for an overall optimised cleaning process.
During Q1/Q2 of 2021, the project is scheduled to enter the third stage. This will involve first attempts to digitalise process control in addition to data analysis. For this purpose, the project partners intend to develop algorithms based on artificial intelligence to automatically calculate possible ways of improving plant and process control.
The long-term objective behind this development is the gradual transformation towards automated process control in which the AI-optimised parameters directly control specific process parameters.
In the light of the above transformation, SAMSON states that its IIoT-platform facilitates integrating various data sources and offers far greater connectivity of the plant and system thanks to the newly programmed interfaces. In contrast to conventional computer systems, the platform also generates time-series databases, which are a powerful tool for the processing and analysis of data, including various visualisation options.
The platform will also feature/integrate a smart data analytics system – KI Konzept – developed by InfraServ Wiesbaden that also develops and operates analogue and digital solutions for companies based in the industrial park and for other companies in the Frankfurt region.
The two companies’ objective is to continue the cooperation to develop and expand SAMSON’s platform jointly, possibly also for other applications such as complex power generation and distribution systems inside the industrial park.
InfraServ Wiesbaden contributes to the cooperation by sharing the experience it has gained within the industry and programming specific control processes for its facilities, such as the biological water treatment plant or the implementation of customer requirements. The result will be ‘digital twins’ of the analysed systems.
These digital twins can simulate plant control operations and analyse the flows of energy or goods, and predictive plant maintenance.