Vitens is the Netherlands’ largest drinking water provider, supplying more than 5.6 million households in Friesland, Overijssel, Gelderland, Flevoland and Utrecht with clean drinking water. Vitens was seeking to optimize drinking water production and distribution, and was also keen to harness the knowledge of its employees. Streamlining this complex process required centralized management and automation, with an operating system that pulls information from all locations.
Vitens supplies around 330 billion litres of water per year through its 96 production facilities across five provinces. As a company that takes pride in its continuous innovation to deliver excellent service, efficiently and sustainably, Vitens was faced with the challenge of centralising, automating and optimising its drinking water production.
In addition, the continuity of institutional knowledge was a consideration. Doeke Schippers, Purification Manager at Vitens, said, "Our operators have a great deal of insight and expertise, so how do we retain this valuable information should they leave Vitens? It’s important to take this into account, especially as the labour market matures. It’s much less common today for people to stay with the same employer throughout their career."
Aquasuite OPIR Predicts Water Requirements
Royal HaskoningDHV worked with Vitens to implement Aquasuite OPIR, an application that accurately predicts water consumption and drinking water production over the next 72 hours. Based on local system information and big data, the control software calculates the optimal settings for purifiers, pumps and control valves; and regulates them centrally.
Vitens chose Aquasuite OPIR for two reasons. Firstly, because the software was specially developed for Dutch drinking water companies, Aquasuite OPIR perfectly fits Vitens’ infrastructure: it is designed for flat terrain, adjustable pumps and large supply areas. Secondly, the application was able to identify significant energy savings through the creation of a more uniform, more efficient water production process.
Stable, Efficient Water Production
With Aquasuite OPIR, Vitens can fine-tune its complete water production process to match demand. On the basis of all available information, the application automatically sets optimum values for pressures and flows at purification and pumping stations, as well as the levels in reservoirs and clean underground water storage facilities. As a result, the entire system performs with greater stability and efficiency.
In addition, Aquasuite OPIR retains insight into system control and optimisation, relieving the pressure on operators. For example, the application advises on the most appropriate settings in order to meet higher or lower consumption. In an unexpected situation such as a pipe rupture, the application identifies and reports the issue so that Vitens can address the problem immediately.
This centralised, more stable water production is predicted to reduce Vitens’ energy consumption by 5 to 10 percent. Schippers said, "It’s a bit like driving a car: if you drive steadily at 100km per hour over a certain distance, you use less fuel than when switching between faster and slower speeds."
Furthermore, Aquasuite OPIR enables Vitens to use lower night-time energy tariffs. Processing reduces by 80 percent at night and the water pressure in the pipeline network is more stable. This results in less wear and tear, fewer faults and less wastage of non-returnable water. Stable production also ensures that water is not held for a long time in buffers, which improves its quality as drinking water is generally 12 to 20 percent less turbid as a result.
Aquasuite OPIR delivers further benefits in people management, driving standardization, efficiency and flexibility and better predicting the need for technicians in certain locations.
Impact: More Data, Better Optimization
The savings achieved through Aquasuite OPIR mean that the application will pay for itself within three years. Aquasuite OPIR is enabling Vitens to ride the big data wave – both now and in the future. As more data from sensors, systems and the internet becomes available, the system functioning will continue to improve.
"With OPIR we can convert all our local information into data and collect it centrally,” Schippers added. And, thanks to the system’s intelligent self-learning abilities, water quality and energy savings are likely to continue to improve in the future.