Integrating instrumentation and site support services as a single package offers advantages for water companies. The development of online and portable instrumentation for sample analysis and process monitoring has had a considerable impact across all sectors of wastewater treatment in recent years.

Sample analysis procedures have improved significantly, resulting in simplified automation and the time taken for results to be made available vastly reduced. The result is greater control over the elements that can affect wastewater consent levels.

For many years, field-mounted monitors and analysers were restricted in their range of capabilities, typically only performing a single analysis at a time and demanding frequent maintenance. The situation has now changed considerably, this almost entirely due to the arrival of systems that offer the capabilities to measure several parameters simultaneously and give extended intervals between service.

These instruments are able to operate reliably for extended periods and produce results comparable with those achieved in laboratories.

The result is faster sample time, reduced reagent consumption and a greater volume of information made available at any one time.

The availability of remote communications has encouraged suppliers to offer a plethora of features including requests for reagents, service call-out, process alarms, power interruptions and calibration setting. This represents a considerable volume of information, which could easily swamp the limited resour-ces that are commonly available for operation and maintenance of treatment systems.

Too much data

So how are end users expected to cope? Where just a single instrument is in use, then managing and reacting to this data is a relatively easy job. Where many instruments are located over a wide area, maintenance can become a problem.

It is essential to water companies avoid being overloaded with messages from instruments all demanding attention.

One solution, which is now being implemented by Partech Instruments, is for the instrument supplier to take over the essential maintenance and management of the instrument. In simple terms, the end user is out-sourcing these responsibilities. Remote diagnostic monitoring of individual instruments by the supplier, or its appointed contractor, removes the responsibility for the running of the system from the end user and places it in the hands of the supplier.

This allows the supplier to use the intelligent communications features that are included in the instrument to keep the costs of maintenance and management down to a reasonable level. Partech Instruments is already in discussions with its customers in respect of providing a bi-directional remote monitoring facility.

This means that at any time, Partech’s engineers know how the instrument is performing and the condition of the various consumable items.

The added benefit of this is that if an engineer makes a site visit, he knows what work is required and what spare parts and consumables are needed. The next stage in this approach will be the ability to make and changes to the set values remotely.

The major benefit of this is that the end user has high availability of the critical information required for the water treatment process.

The current generation of online chemical analysers are intelligent instruments that use sophisticated software programs and microprocessors. Partech Instruments’ Micromac online analyser is representative of this new generation of instruments.

In addition to its capability for sequential multi-parameter measuring of up to four parameters with a single unit, it also incorporates valuable sophisticated communications and reporting facilities.

Available for measurements such as ammonia, phosphate (ortho and total) and total iron, this system is designed for use in environments where the robustness of the electronics, mechanics and hydraulic components is paramount.

Where the instrument is required to operate in a remote location, regular monitoring of the instrument via a communications link is essential.

The same can be said for measuring suspended solids in the aeration phase and monitoring low levels of suspended solids and turbidity at the final effluent stage. Anglian Water has been using Partech Instruments’ Turbi-Tech 2000 and 7200 Monitor as a completely integrated package for a couple of years, with 43 separate sites now reporting results via the Anglian Regional Telemetry System (ARTS) 2000 facility. This package, together with full equipment installation, has also been supplied to other water companies in the UK. The Turbi-Tech 2000 instrument offers users a choice of methods for measuring, these being infrared light absorption and light scatter.

Typically, the infrared light absorption principle is used for monitoring mixed liquor suspended solids.

However, it may also be used for measuring returned activated sludge to ensure the solids processing system is operating at optimum efficiency. The light scatter principle is designed for use at the final effluent discharge point.

The combination of Turbi-Tech 2000 Sensors and 7200 Monitor, together with remote communications or telemetry capabilities, provides WwTW with a cost-effective solution to suspended solids measurement applications.

There is a danger that personnel in water companies can be overloaded with data and information on equipment operating conditions.

By out-sourcing every aspect of running and managing the instrument to the supplier, or a suitably qualified and resourced engineering support company, end users can be looking at potential savings that will impact on the efficiency of the plant.

Partech Instruments provides service contracts for its suspended solids monitoring, sludge blanket detection and dissolved oxygen monitoring systems that cover site surveying, equipment installation and commissioning and full site back up engineering services.

The key to the success of out-sourcing responsibility for the operation, maintenance and servicing of online monitoring instruments will be largely dependent on its willingness to form strategic supply chain partnerships with supplier and to consider the leasing of measurements.

By entering into dialogue with equipment manufacturers and suppliers and detailing precisely what their requirements are, then a practical and financially rewarding solution can be arrived at.

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