Water crisis puts plant operating efficiencies under pressure

As South Africa’s water resources dwindle under endemic drought and rapid urbanisation, it is imperative that water efficiency be achieved in the plants and processes that deliver drinking water and waste treatment facilities, through the installation of effective and efficient process controllers and systems.

Water treatment plant
Schneider Electric offers solutions for plants looking to optimise design and construction costs, reduce operating costs in water treatment, power and control of a network of pumping stations, 24/7.

The company offers:

  • reduced energy bills thanks to both power quality and power savings
  • improved process management for treatment plants and pumping station networks
  • increased service life of hydraulic equipment

Monitoring and managing hazardous substances is a priority for the company, which is compliant to the major standards and legislation requirements both locally and internationally.

Operators need to reduce their operating costs through load shifting, high efficiency motors and drives and process optimisation of pump motors. The company’s solutions for power management and control can reduce energy consumption by up to 30%.

Avoiding resonance

In water installations, Variable Speed Drives, ozone generators and UV lamps mainly generate harmonics, which should all be carefully managed to avoid resonance, particularly when Power Factor Correction capacitors are present. Increased current demands and nuisance tripping are the most frequent adverse consequences of harmonics. Schneider Electric can provide assistance and solutions for harmonic management in compliance with utility regulations.

Detecting problems as early as possible avoids process downtime and reduces operating costs. The company offers diagnostic tools that are easy to use and which give efficient access to relevant information, such as the root cause and process values needed to fix the problem.

At the Supervision Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) level, tools such as ‘Process Analyst’ are available to create reports and analyse process data, which can then be used to optimise the process in order to reduce electricity consumption.

Automation components for harsh environments

In water applications, the environment is sometimes polluted and may have negative impacts on the ageing of the electronic components used. This results in unexpected downtime and higher maintenance costs. Based on extensive field experience, Schneider Electric has developed a special protection process (conformal coating) to improve service life in such aggressive chemical and corrosive environments.

In drinking water networks, constant distribution pressure is required to reach all floors in urban zones and to overcome physical barriers in rural zones. Boosting stations are placed along the network and both constant availability and real-time adaptation to the users’ water demands are required.

Different technologies are used: from fixed to variable speed, from switchboards to stand-alone devices, from medium voltage to low voltage. In all cases, perfect integration into the electrical and automation networks is necessary. Schneider Electric offers additional advantages through a set of innovative solutions for pumping stations.

Closing the distance

In South Africa, water sources are far from consumption points. In addition, wastewater collection is required and coordination between pumping stations is required to manage water flow. This results in extensive networks and creates specific water problems because of remote locations, poor communication networks, difficult and expensive maintenance and the availability of electrical energy. Schneider Electric’s telemetry system is the answer.

To support water process throughout its life cycle, from the design stage, during operation and to modernisation, Schneider Electric offers various services available through its network of qualified partners. Its projects and service centres are at customers’ disposal and are able to provide a unique power and control services offer.

Flexible approach

The company’s systematic approach to upgrades and retrofits is the key to extending equipment life at a fraction of the replacement cost. It upgrades or replaces circuit breakers with new technology; develops switchgear retrofit solutions; reconditions LV and MV power circuit breakers; replaces or repairs drives.

It conducts power quality and harmonic studies to identify previously undiagnosed problems that can reduce equipment life and interfere with reliable operation. As the upgrades come online, its installation services verify that the new equipment is damage-free, properly installed and ready to meet optimum performance standards. Water is a planetary resource that concerns all countries. Strong global players are present but it is still a local market. Schneider Electric has all the solutions this market needs to face its challenges.