Making Simpler Service an (Augmented) Reality

For water and wastewater treatment applications where downtime is not an option, it is essential that system monitoring and maintenance continues regardless of the situation. Here, William Jeal, our Head of Sales Development, looks at a recent project example from Veolia North America (VNA) where the latest iteration of our Hubgrade digital management service helped a water treatment facility overcome the challenges of COVID-19.

As was the case all around the world, our Veolia North America (VNA) team were forced to adjust to new ways of working in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the use of new and innovative technologies. In particular, at the Hollister Water Reclamation Facility and Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant, the team had to come up with a new way to support the site from a remote location. 

The Hollister Water Reclamation Facility treats domestic, commercial and industrial wastewater in Hollister, California. Meanwhile, the neighbouring Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant primarily treats waste from the local tomato cannery, as well as a portion of the city's stormwater runoff. 

VNA has provided ongoing maintenance for the wastewater site since August 2010, however, travel restrictions implemented in response to COVID-19 meant that in-person on-site support was no longer possible, preventing the VNA engineers from properly monitoring the equipment. To perform a condition assessment of the assets requires the use of specialised tools that the on-site team was not familiar with, such as a vibration meter, ultrasound meter and thermal camera. Therefore an alternative method needed to be arranged.

To overcome this challenge, VNA utilised Veolia’s Hubgrade digital management system. With Hubgrade, Internet-enabled sensors can be installed on all key pieces of equipment to collect real-time data about the system’s performance and carry out sophisticated algorithm-based optimisation. Depending on the Hubgrade package implemented, advanced digital tools such as augmented reality (AR) can also be utilised.

At the Hollister wastewater treatment site, this AR technology was central to allowing support and system monitoring during the pandemic. It uses smart glasses that include field-of-view displays and cameras to allow real-time communication between on-site personnel and the remote VNA technical support team. The use of this technology allowed the Hollister site team to carry out the required checks and use the specialised maintenance tools to collect the necessary data with support and instruction from the VNA engineers. This, combined with the data collected from the sensors, meant a complete view of the system’s operations could be achieved.

Besides equipment assessments, the technology can also be used to evaluate safety conditions and identify potential hazards as well as allow the teams to communicate effectively in the event of an issue on site. Ultimately, this helped to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both the VNA team and the on-site personnel in Hollister as well as reduce the cost of managing the complex site. The success of using AR in this way at Hollister has led to the VNA now investigating how this service can be rolled out to other sites in its portfolio.

Hubgrade’s suite of digital tools have also been used in the UK to ensure that essential water treatment systems – from municipal water treatment plants to healthcare facilities – were able to operate fully throughout the pandemic. 

In particular, these sites benefitted from a number of Hubgrade’s key features, including:

  • Remote real time support from expert engineers
  • Remote access real time data for site teams, available 24/7 from any connected device
  • Reduced energy, water and chemical consumption and increased capacity through optimisation
  • Minimised downtime and alerts in the event of an issue
  • The ability to ensure compliance and reduce risk.

Whether for municipal, industrial or process water applications, Hubgrade can help customers to streamline the management of their systems and optimise performance. At VWT UK we are continually investing to bring new innovations to customers, including utilising the latest in augmented, mixed and virtual reality in conjunction with Hubgrade.

Click here to find out more about our Hubgrade digital management tools.

William Jeal

About the Author

William Jeal

William has a background of working with a wide range of industrial, public sector and municipal customers. William's career in the water sector started with a start up services business focused on working with commercial, industrial and public sector organisations to manage their water and wastewater usage, costs and environmental compliance. Having grown and developed this business for 5 years William then joined Veolia Water Technologies in 2015 to focus on growing its wastewater technologies activities in the Municipal market. In 2019 William took responsibility for leading Veolia's Municipal Services Business as well as its Digital Services Business across all sectors in the UK. With a strong focus on commercial and service innovation William has been responsible for a number of development projects including involvement in the development of Veolia’s global AQUAVISTA platform of real time control and optimization services.