Telemetry has changed the game in water management – hitherto an exercise that can be been a drag and drain on a mine’s overstrained resources. This is evident in preventative maintenance, operational savings, improved planning, better water quality monitoring and level monitoring, as well as reduced insurance premiums and safety risks.
In modern pump station management, access to accurate data could be the difference between pump uptime and downtime, with a considerable bearing on an organisation’s productivity. In the past, this involved frequent site visits.
Usually, the main challenge with site visits is that they are time-consuming and expose the responsible personnel to safety risks. Over and above, there is always the possibility that the information gathered would not be accurate, resulting misleading decision making.
So, in many ways, the advent of cloud-based telemetry, automated processes of remote measurement and data collection, has been godsend to the industry. It could not have come at a more perfect time as a myriad of challenges have impinged on operations of mines: machinery maintenance costs are skyrocketing, water scarcity calls for sound husbandry. Besides, there is push to increase productivity, which entails increasing equipment uptime, minimising downtime, as far as possible.
In his article, IoT: Telemetry – A real-time solution for SA’s water crisis, Donavan Hendricks of Enaqua, stresses the importance of Internet of Things (IoT) in sound pump management: “In today’s competitive business environment, there is no margin for error or delays. To save costs, improve efficiency and avoid disasters, operations that manage water treatment plants need integrated fault detection, reporting, monitoring and management systems that will proactively give them the visibility they need to troubleshoot, resolve issues and regain control – within the shortest time possible.”
Through using real-time, secure, cloud-based SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) technology, mines can gain control over their operations anywhere that has cellphone, WiFi or Ethernet connectivity.
It allows an unlimited number of approved users to connect to the system (subject to their authorisation level) from any device (computer, tablet, telephone).
The operational and maintenance personnel are able to connect disparate information from multiple pieces of equipment into an integrated ecosystem, from almost anywhere in the world in real-time.
The information from multiple sensor components would be on areas such as flow rates, peak flow times, fuel levels, which pump station operators can use to identify the maintenance tasks that are needed and when they should be performed.
Why cloud-based telemetry?
In the November/December 2019 Edition of African Mining Brief, Johan Hoolsema, the managing director of Expert System Solutions, highlighted key areas where telemetry has changed the game in water management – hitherto an exercise that can be been a drag and drain on a mine’s overstrained resources.
Particularly, he singled out preventative maintenance, operational savings, improved planning, better water quality monitoring and level monitoring, as well as reduced insurance premiums and safety risks.
- Preventative maintenance
The user can monitor and control RTUs remotely, thereby reducing call outs to site and enabling the maintenance team to prepare in the event that a call out does become necessary. The early warning of sudden changes (by means of water leak detection and early fault detection) will inform maintenance staff before problems escalate. This decreases the occurrence of electricity and water supply disruptions. Any discrepancy in water volume and pressure that goes in and out would indicate a possible pipeline leakage, elaborated Hoolsema.
- Operational savings
Through facilitating preventative maintenance of plants, reducing water and electricity outages, telemetry can bring significant operational costs savings.
- Optimal water supply through improved planning
When a plant is in a good condition, there is optimal water supply for various processes. Hence, equipped with WWAT equipment, operators can be able to know whether the level is falling so that refilling can be scheduled, said Hoolsema.
- Better water quality and level monitoring
Through telemetry, the level of the quality of water for consumption and production in mines can be monitored for PH, level of chlorine amongst others.
Furthermore, as part of the terms of their operating licences, mines are obliged to manage waste and excess water soundly. Through telemetry, the level of water in dams can be monitored.
- Reduced insurance premiums and safety risks, and water loss
Telemetry helps mines reduce to risk insurance and safety risks, as well as through control of water loss.
The way to go
All told, as demonstrated, the use of cloud-based telemetry systems in pump station management can help mines to best manage extensive monitoring requirements. This would minimise downtime caused by pump failure, increasing efficiency. Without doubt, telemetry is the way to go.