In the run up to the USA Water Community's WEFTEC conference, Oct 16-20 in Chicago, we look at obstacles and talk through changes and challenges that water professionals need to keep water flowing.
The interdependence of the electrical infrastructure that powers water treatment is crystal clear in ASCE's 2021 report; the report calls out the negative impact that neglecting electrical components could cause in both disruption and risk while highlighting the urgency for change.
ASCE’s assessment of water treatment plants says most electrical infrastructure surveyed exhibited significant deficiencies in conditions and functionality, increasing vulnerability to risk. As this electrical infrastructure ages and life span is shortened, water professionals have a balancing act not only with budget but ensuring their utility isn't exposed to other problems, some as simple as the waning availability of components and finding the cause/location of defects. These problems become intensified as power outages are prolonged which has significant consequences for water treatment.
Deploying innovative smart technologies like sensors for condition monitoring helps manage and extend the useable life of electrical components and changes the approach to operations and maintenance. Of those surveyed by ASCE, the majority said that they had plans for proactive asset management and maintenance to manage water/wastewater infrastructure; moving away from reactive responses to equipment failures was a priority.
But to make good decisions on spending, there is a need first to understand the value of a plant's existing electrical infrastructure. Exertherm believes that water utilities can improve their resilience by developing and updating the way they assess electrical assets and respond to issues by monitoring.
Ahead of failure, electrical faults create excess heat in proportion to the severity of the fault. Sensors installed inside the assets monitor critical points for excess heat, and alert operators in advance of potential problems.
Condition monitoring moves operations towards a truly predictive maintenance program for electrical infrastructure by surfacing real-time information on the health of components.
Exertherm provides 24x7 continuous thermal monitoring for critical electrical assets.
In water treatment processing, the prevalence and variety of motor-driven machinery makes the electrical system that supports these motors arguably one of the most critical operational components. The power to motors is managed by motor control centers (MCCs); the health of which is vitally important to ensure uptime for critical processes.
Unexpected failures in power distribution disrupts the ability to successfully keep water flowing. When MCCs are monitored 24x7, plant engineers can detect common causes of electrical equipment failure, such as loose or compromised connections.
Since heat is often an early indicator of degradation, Exertherm’s solution allows operations to capture baseline data and identify abnormal thermal patterns before electrical failure occurs; this helps extend the life of an asset and builds the facility’s condition-based predictive maintenance capabilities.
The unique Exertherm MCC solution is specifically designed to thermally monitor the critical power joints at the rear of the MCC bucket 24x7. These cannot normally be accessed for thermal imaging inspection without de-energizing, resulting in downtime costs.
Supplied in kit form with just 3 key components, the Exertherm solution can provide local and remote alarm notifications, can connect to any front-end software via serial Modbus communications, and for legacy equipment without communications provides a simple 3 color LED condition status light on the front of the bucket. In addition, it also successfully identifies and activates appropriate alarms for phase imbalance (which undetected can reduce the life of the motor by 50%).
Discover more about Exertherm's MCC solutions:
Read our blog Exertherm thinks the threat of aging electrical infrastructure for water requires urgent change and our 8 Step Electrical Infrastructure O & M model.