Water 2.0 – We Must Unite with Industry!

As I traveled last week throughout the UK, I met with a variety of industrial customers who use the same industrial software to make pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods, and food products as water utilities use to clean wastewater and distribute clean water. The interesting thing that I learned was that many of them have systems to clean their waste water or rain runoff from their sites but these systems are largely controlled via stone age technology…I’m talking about manual pumps and valves.

Given this, I came to the conclusion that they are not monitored automatically; rather they are checked periodically (weekly/monthly) and reported per government regulations.The industry doesn’t seem to put a huge focus on these, and my summation is because it doesn't directly affect their ability to produce parts or their core business. Of course, there are regulations in the UK and most countries globally to ensure industry is not polluting our rivers, lakes and oceans—but I started to think of a world where these industry-owned systems were monitored 24x7 and the information collected was fed back into the local water treatment centers automatically.

GE IP WasteWaterI think this would help reduce the chemicals being used at the central plant because they’ll know more details on the water quality coming into the plants. and perhaps this would lead to increased corporate responsibility and streamlined higher fidelity regulatory enforcement. It has been possible to do this for some time…you could use 20-year-old telecommunications equipment and simple software, but with today’s industrial internet-based technology, it’s even easier and such low cost.

I had some further time to think about this on a short train from Stafford to London and thought, “What if industrial sites went above the regulations and treated the water to a level where it could be consumed?” The industrial manufacturers would work in conjunction with the local water authority and could even sell treated water back to the local population and offload the centralized municipal water plants. Even in developed countries like the UK, it seems like the water plants are continuously expanding to meet capacity requirements and replacing water mains, which could be offloaded to industry. In many cases, water treatment facilities exist in pharmaceutical and food plants anyways to further refine the water coming in from the utility, so why not run their own industrial waste water, roof drainage, etc. through those same treatment systems and provide a subset of the local population clean drinking water?

In my mind, the industrial internet and the increased cooperation of local water authorities with industry could increase regulatory compliance, impact how water is treated, and drive down costs. Do you have any similar thoughts on how industry could help drive water 2.0? Let us know.


Join Us in Washington, DC on May 15th

Please join us as we discuss our smart water network and other water infrastructure issues at the WATER 2.0 conference, in Washington DC on May 15th. Water enters the digital era. Big Data Solutions, Information Powered Utilities and Smarter Customers. The Conference will focus on the social/economical benefit of digitally enabled water solutions.

Kyle Reissner

Kyle believes that we’re on the cusp of an industrial mobile revolution. As a member of the Global Product Management team at GE, Kyle focuses on mobile real-time operational intelligence (RtOI) solutions that enable all levels of the industrial workforce to be connected anywhere with the right information at the right time.

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