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Scada systems vital in sector

An image of ABB power and water local division sales manager Joyce Moganedi

JOYCE MOGANEDI There is room for improvement, but only if the sector can adopt and embrace change

17th March 2023

By: Leah Shelene Asaram

Features Reporter

     

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Supervisory control and data acquisition (Scada) systems afford customers the flexibility to monitor, control and overall manage specific processes in water plants.

The current water crisis in South Africa is a result of the sector’s still largely being burdened with ageing infrastructure, water-quality issues and pipe bursts resulting in 41% of total treated water being lost to leakages, also known as non-revenue water.

“There is room for improvement, but only if the sector can adopt and embrace change,” says technology leader ABB power water local division sales manager Joyce Moganedi.

She says the water industry mainly uses Scada and programmable logic controller (PLC) solutions, as opposed to the more high-end distributed control systems.

Cutting-edge technologies move beyond the traditional automation boundaries in terms of Scada and PLC solutions, says Moganedi. She says it involves the deployment of digital solutions that speak directly to helping water boards achieve key performance indicators (KPIs).

These range from visual awareness of operations, real-time information to act on any abnormalities in the plant, increased plant availability, having accessibility to remote operations in the plant anywhere at any time, to increased efficiency and productivity.

Importantly, Scada allows for plant assets to be managed in a ‘smart’ way, owing to its capability to predict failure and deploy mitigating actions, says Moganedi.

“Innovation and technology play an important role in the water sector to ultimately ensure sustainability of the complete water life cycle.”

Consequently, deploying Scada, PLC and KPIs would mitigate the impact of natural disasters, such as droughts and floods, she adds.

The lack of progress in the water industry regarding refurbishing existing, and developing new, infrastructure could be linked to the lack of funding, notes Moganedi.

“It has incapacitated the water sector to some extent and has delayed the implementation of significant projects.”

Responsible and efficient water use can be achieved by the automation, electrification and digitalisation of South Africa’s water treatment plants to ensure safe, smart and sustainable management of the water cycle.

“When water processing plants automate their processes, it results in increased plant efficiency, productivity and reduced plant maintenance costs. Only then can we ensure the responsible use of water.”

She adds that ABB offers automation, from Scada to PLC solutions, for the water industry. ABB believes that such solutions are the catalysts that are needed for the successful implementation of the Industrial Internet of Things and agile navigation to Industry 4.0.

Water and wastewater plants play a critical role in bridging the gap between the growing demand for, and scarcity of, this precious resource.

Moganedi provides an example, citing a recent study ‘ABB’s Energy Transition Equation report’, where ABB focused on the untapped potential of wastewater plants both in terms of water reuse and in reducing the environmental footprint of human activities.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

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