WML has been at the forefront of using technology to optimise drinking water production and distribution – and has used Aqua Suite since 1996.
Back then, it was looking to forecast demand accurately and then automate processes based on those forecasts. The aim was to ensure a resilient water supply at a consistent pressure for everyone, thereby guaranteeing fresh water from each customer’s tap. At the same time, WML also wanted to streamline processes to make life easier for operators.
Aqua Suite, now under the Twinn brand, offered the ideal solution – a combination of predictive analytics and an autopilot for drinking water supply. Its production control algorithm determines the number of raw water wells and filters to switch on. As a result, water supply is automatically matched to demand, which provides a steady flow throughout the network – without operator intervention and with the minimum number of flow changes.
“It was a unique experience being the first company to integrate Aqua Suite for drinking water supply back in 1996. People at both WML and Royal HaskoningDHV were very motivated in this project,” commented Philip Stollman, Process Automation System Administrator at WML.
Aqua Suite has helped improve water quality while reducing asset wear, malfunctions and water loss. At the start, people at WML were hesitant about the idea of allowing a computer to predict part of the water supply process, and felt that manually switching the wells ensured greater control. However, after experiencing the autopilot, they saw the benefits, including being free to focus on more tactical and strategic work instead of routine operational firefighting.
Aqua Suite has also centralised control of the network, which has improved performance compared with the previous localised approach. All locations can be monitored remotely and easily compared, which has minimised the need for employees to be on site. People also have a full performance overview and can compare different locations via dashboards. It’s therefore easy to monitor assets and plan preventative maintenance to minimise disruption.
After 16 years of Aqua Suite success, WML reduced 20 local autopilots to four centralized autopilots and upgraded its approach in 2012. This approach was a transition from an Aqua Suite autopilot that switches filters and pumps to an updated Aqua Suite algorithm that only predicts setpoints. Under the new approach, the PLC sends available storage, filter and pump capacity to the Aqua Suite application so the autopilot knows exactly what setpoints to generate every 15 minutes. The new algorithm predicts demand in a specific area and the setpoints for treatment works and pumping stations for the coming 72 hours. This provides a key layer of resilience – if communication between the PLC and autopilot is interrupted, predictions are already stored.
13 years later, WML continues to benefit from the quality and reliability Aqua Suite enables. “We have always been able to rely on Aqua Suite. Problems such as low-level drinking water storage are predicted in advance, and the application has thus far never failed. We run Aqua Suite constantly, so little optimisation of the production process is required. Aqua Suite runs in a very stable way and it does what it needs to do – that’s what all our operators say,” Philip concluded.