Nordic Water, part of Sulzer group, is a Dutch company that specialises in water treatment technology. For a pilot project commissioned by a local water authority in Hapert, the Netherlands, they were looking for a user-friendly solution to collect and visualise data from a proof-of-concept filtering system.

▶ By collecting and visualising installation data with our scalable IIoT platform Factry Historian, the company was able to successfully build a data-driven business case for the pilot unit, save hours of time on maintenance, and reduce overall costs.

Factry Historian IIoT dashboard

About Nordic Water

Nordic Water is a global pioneer in water treatment technology, and has been around since the 1960s. In 2021, it was acquired by the Swiss company Sulzer. Its core business is to build water treatment installations based on sand filtering technology. The company offers a wide range of equipment and systems for water purification plants, waste water treatment plants and industries of all sizes.

The challenge

1. Improve data visibility

Nordic Water lacked real-time insights into its pilot installations, which was holding them back from more effective maintenance and troubleshooting. To a limited extent, the testing units were automated through a PLC. Yet, the controller could not be interfaced with, nor did it allow data to be extracted from it.

In case of technical issues, the company would receive a phone call or email from the client, mostly followed by an on-site intervention. This also meant that issues such as power cuts were often discovered late. To solve this problem, they needed a system that could offer instant data visibility to all stakeholders involved.

Before we started using Factry Historian, clients called us to report technical issues. Now, it is the other way around. Clients really appreciate that we’re monitoring their project so closely. On top of that, they love working with the software.

Ronald Piepers
General Manager at Nordic Water Benelux

2. Build a business case

The technical goal of the test unit was to learn how efficiently 20 different pharmaceutical residues could be removed from water. Apart from the output samples, another crucial KPI was the total amount of bed volumes needed to filter the water before the active coal component would become saturated.

In case the active coal filter would last at least 24.000 bed volumes, a business case could be built to scale the concept from a unit with a flow rate of 5 cubic metres to up to 500 cubic metres per hour, and apply it in a large installation. This means they needed accurate data of the volume of water that is processed.

Factry solutions

In order to solve these challenges, we implemented Factry Historian, our modern and user-friendly IIoT platform for collecting, storing and visualising any type of industrial data. This data is collected in real-time, stored efficiently, and made accessible for analysis through user-friendly and role-based visual dashboards.

Nordic Water filtration installation

1. Real-time data monitoring

Although our data historian allows to monitor 100.000s of data points, the number of measurements points on a sand filtering system is limited. Nordic Water collects data from about 10 sensors measuring parameters such as the incoming water flow rate, filter bed pressure, or compressor speed. All these parameters combined deliver a full picture on how the test unit is performing.

To get started, a third party supplier recommended by us slightly modified the PLC software and made the data available through the OPC-UA standard protocol. Our software, which runs on a industrial-grade Raspberry PI, the Kunbus RevPI, collects the data from the PLC and sends in real-time to the Factry cloud through a separate module. Data is collected in a single platform, accessible to anyone needing it.

  • Scalable and flexible system
  • Unlimited data, tags and users
  • Data stored efficiently in the cloud

2. User-friendly dashboarding

Long-term performance of the pilot unit was crucial to the end client, which required a highly accurate view on the number of processed bed volumes. User-friendly dashboards bring visual insight into the current and total volumes processed, for both Nordic Water and the water company. Through calculated values, they’re also delivered insights on rinse water usage.

  • Real-time data insights
  • Fluent user management
  • Easy-to-use admin panel

What I like the most about Factry Historian is the comforting feeling of seeing the installation run smoothly at the desired flow rate, and on the other hand, to be instantly aware in case something goes wrong. And what’s even more important, it allows us to go back in time and see what exactly happened.

Ronald Piepers
General Manager at Nordic Water Benelux

3. Historical data analysis

In addition to real-time monitoring and dashboarding, Factry Historian allows for in-depth historical analysis. Through instant data querying and root-cause analysis, they can look back in the past to find out what went wrong, instead of by trial-and-error. By being able to zoom in and out on values, they can learn from previous incidents, and prevent them from happening again in the future.

  • Historical trend analysis
  • Blazing fast data querying
  • Dashboards as reports

Only a few months after our first conversation, the system was up-and-running and collecting data in real-time. Apart from the flawless implementation of the software, the Factry team was of great value by recommending a third-party supplier to edit the PLC software, and giving advice on technical challenges

Ronald Piepers
General Manager at Nordic Water Benelux
Nordic Water filtration installation

The results

▶ Time & cost savings

By being able to monitor the installation online, the company was able to reduce the number of manual interventions, save time and cut maintenance costs. Anomalies can be assessed remotely before on-site intervention.

▶ Higher customer value

Through easy-to-use dashboards, both Nordic Water and its client are able to follow up on the installation at any time, on any device. This has enabled Nordic Water to take on a data-driven mindset, while increasing client value.

▶ Pilot project success

The experiment in the Netherlands ran for about one year, and ended in March 2022. Nordic Water has successfully managed to prove the effectiveness and lifespan of its filtration equipment, and is now ready to take things further.

Just as the software was recommended to us by one of our partners in the water industry, I would definitely recommend Factry Historian to other companies. Its possibilities are endless. Despite the fact that our units produce limited data, we’ve extracted way more value than we initially aimed for.

Ronald Piepers
General Manager at Nordic Water Benelux

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