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Challenges Facing Operational Management of Wastewater Treatment


With stringent effluent quality standards and the ever increasing demand for clean water, wastewater treatment plants constantly upgrade their equipment and technology to improve their operations. However, issues still exist. While there are many challenges facing wastewater treatment plants, there are three major topics that we find to be the biggest pain points for our customers: energy consumption, operational costs, and management efficiency.

Major challenges in the wastewater treatment industry

Energy consumption is the largest expense in running a wastewater treatment plants. Various facilities operate 24/7/365 throughout the plant and the most intensive use is during the primary and secondary stages of the wastewater treatment process. Energy costs can account for up to 30% of the total operations expense. So how to reign in energy costs is a crucial issue for water treatment plants. 

High operational cost is another main expense. Many chemicals are used to stabilize water quality. Sewage sludge is generated during the process and it must be properly treated before disposal. In recent years, the price of chemicals and sludge disposal have increased significantly. To maximize profit, learning how to reduce sludge volumes and use precise chemical dosages are vital tasks. 

Inefficient plant management is a problem which many water treatment plants struggle to solve. The water treatment process is complicated and decentralized, so data is scattered, and managers struggle to supervise the whole plant leading to poor wastewater management. Also, key decisions still need to be made by operators, so if they lack experience, human errors easily happen, leading to extra costs in dealing with unexpected errors.  

With these three major challenges, wastewater treatment plants face enormous pressure to improve and maintain treatment efficiency. To address this, cloud-enabled wastewater management using IoT technology is the best solution. Wastewater treatment plants should regularly analyze their treatment performance to ensure operating facilities and systems are running well. Outdated and inefficient equipment, or non user-friendly systems can result in high labor and operating costs, which can negatively impact business operations. The following integrated solutions provide real-time remote monitoring, efficient facility management, and optimized operational management for the wastewater treatment process. 

How does iWater solutions help wastewater treatment companies overcome these challenges? 

Advantech has built a global water treatment ecosystem around the WISE-PaaS 4.0 platform. In response to the complex procedures and the challenges, Advantech designed its iWater Quality Monitoring solution and iWater Facility Management solution for water treatment plant management through a combination of industrial domain knowledge and deep expertise in the industrial automation field. These solutions optimize energy efficiency, overall operations, and maintenance management. 

iWater Quality Monitoring Solution is a packaged system consisting of IoT devices, edge computing servers, and a water quality dashboard which is easily accessed via a web browser. Remote management ensures water quality of sewage treatment processes are monitored in real-time, historical data is properly stored, and visualized key indicators and statistical information are presented on a user-friendly dashboard. iWater Quality Monitoring solution can integrate with SCADA systems, which are often used in wastewater treatment management. This centralized system offers a well-organized way to supervise treatment performance and take instant action if necessary, helping improve the efficiency of management while reducing operational costs.

iWater Facility Management is also a packaged system with an edge computing server and a dashboard for facility remote monitoring. Water treatment plants use numerous facilities and processes to remove multiple contaminants in water whilst trying to meet preset water quality standards. The system aims to monitor real-time facility conditions, record power consumption, and provide key indicators, such as utilization, availability, and failure rates, to assist supervisors in quickly finding operational errors and abnormalities, thereby saving energy and money. 

Wastewater treatment is a complex business as substances in waste water differ between industries and can be very different. Advantech has developed a Precision Dosage Solution especially for the PCB industry. Chemicals are used during the wastewater treatment processes, which is usually manually controlled or by rules/schedules. However, traditional control methods may cause inaccurate dosages and affect treatment results. Advantech’s solution includes raw water quality prediction models, dosing decision analysis, and dosing pump automated control. With intelligent program control and accurate dosing according to inflow quality forecasts, dosing accuracy is increased and treatment costs resulting from overdosing and under dosing will be prevented.  

In addition, Advantech also offers a series of IoT enabled products and systems, which are designed to assist edge data handling and managing equipment or facilities, to help wastewater treatment plants to improve overall efficiency. 

Cloud-enbaled Managment Solution

Industrial Gateway and Sensing Device Offering 

Check out more Advantech solution offerings for Water and Wastewater Treatment

Real business practice for wastewater treatment 

Below are some success stories to help our customers optimize operational management through real-time remote monitoring in water and wastewater treatment.  

Advantech cooperates with The Water Technology Research Division of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to assist Ranitec, a large leather wastewater treatment plant in India, in upgrading their water treatment technologies and plant management. Ranitec deals with pollution like ammonia and nitrogen, so they required advanced water treatment facilities and a centralized system to enhance their operations and reduce electricity consumption. Finally, they deployed MBR, Bionet and EDR filtration technologies, and adopted the iWater platform to fulfill their demands. View full article

Advantech utilizes the WISE-PaaS 4.0 and WISE-Marketplace to work closely with domain-focused solution integrators (DFSIs), having gradually built up an intelligence services ecosystem for water treatment. Advantech collaborates with DFSIs to co-create industrial App (I.App) products and solutions that will accelerate the implementation of intelligent water treatment services in markets including Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and India. View full article

Learn more about wastewater treatment

Why is wastewater treatment important?

Wastewater treatment, recycling, and reuse don’t just protect the environment from pollution, but they also conserve water resources and reduce water stress. The design of wastewater treatment plants is usually based on the need to reduce organic and suspended solids loads to limit pollution to the environment.  

What is wastewater?

Wastewater is any liquid waste or sewage that comes from households, hospitals, factories, and any other structure that uses water in its facilities. It contains many different substances, like debris, suspended solids, bacteria, and chemicals. Untreated wastewater poses a risk to the aquatic ecosystem and human health. So, wastewater requires the removal of as much of the pollutants and contaminants as possible before water is discharged to surface waters. 

Process of wastewater treatment

A number of technologies are available to remove pollutants. The most common treatment techniques include coagulation, membrane filtration, biological treatment, chemical oxidation, and ozonation. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages for different operational conditions, environmental impact, and cost. Selection depends on the water quality level desired: recovery of valuable chemicals from wastewater, water recycling, compliance with discharge into water bodies, and economics of the treatment process.

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