May 28, 2020

Remote Monitoring for Water Management Systems


Watershed, water treatment, water distribution, wastewater collection, wastewater treatment, and residuals management systems are key pieces of critical infrastructure in most cities, providing important information about water quality, flow, pressure, and distribution. In order to keep these systems working optimally so residents stay safe and operators avoid fines, it is critical that they are carefully monitored around the clock. However, traditional monitoring requires manual processes by experienced operators located in onsite control rooms that are often equipped with aging SCADA or DCS systems. 

As cities look to make their water systems more modern and efficient, IoT technology, like Exosite’s ExoSense® application, presents a unique opportunity to carry out this type of monitoring remotely, increasing efficiencies, lowering costs, optimizing personnel resources, and minimizing potential downtime. 

In this application note, we’ll discuss some of the challenges currently faced in the water management space as water professionals consider incorporating IoT technology to update existing systems and plan new projects. We will also identify how Exosite’s ExoSense application can be used to quickly augment existing water management systems with remote monitoring capabilities for more robust, optimized, and efficient operations.

The Challenges

Personnel responsible for monitoring and servicing water management systems often face common challenges both as they manage existing systems and as they consider incorporating IoT technology: 

  • The number of experienced operators who can service complex water management systems is small and getting smaller as many retire, meaning they are in high demand, spread very thin, and can be expensive to employ.
  • Parts for water management systems often have long lead times when they break down, which can result in the unexpected and lengthy downtime of critical systems or entire plants.
  • Water management systems that rely on a SCADA system can face data limitations, including the type of data that can be monitored, the amount that can be processed and stored, the systems it can be shared with, and the way it can be visualized.  
  • When looking to incorporate IoT, having to develop and maintain a “smart” remote monitoring application can be complicated, expensive, and come with hidden maintenance costs for things like data storage, upgrades, testing, and more.
  • It can be difficult and costly to incorporate connected devices with the high level of security that is necessary for water management systems.

The Solution

Exosite’s ExoSense® application is ideal for water professionals looking to augment existing water management systems with remote monitoring capabilities. ExoSense is a fully managed software solution that includes updates, ongoing maintenance, and technical support, so users never have to worry about solution management. Leveraging connectivity hardware from an Exosite partner, the ExoSense application can be deployed in a matter of minutes, requires no custom work to set up, and is easily integrated with existing water management systems and equipment.

Once connected, equipment can begin sending data to the Exosite cloud. There, support personnel can use the ExoSense application to remotely view dashboards with real-time information about water quality and equipment health, without requiring physical proximity to machines or data collection points. Text notifications can be set to alert specific technicians when selected parameters (e.g., pH, chemical dosing rates, residuals) change or when equipment metrics (e.g., vibration, temperature) exceed pre-set thresholds, so corrective action can be taken before compliance issues arise. Flexible permission schemes ensure different users—like technicians, system operators, and plant managers—have access to the dashboards, data, and operation and maintenance manuals that are applicable to their role. Operational analytics and insights also provide the ability to predict process control changes and mechanical issues, pre-order parts with long lead times, and perform proactive maintenance before unexpected downtime occurs.

ExoSense also provides a useful way for support personnel to augment existing SCADA systems. Rather than integrating directly, ExoSense operates next to SCADA systems and can be configured with read-only permissions to mitigate the risk of unauthorized control. Users also experience greater flexibility to add new devices to a system and can virtually push updates, rather than manually updating individual machines. And, because ExoSense is cloud-based, it provides greater versatility than most SCADA systems around the type and amount of data that can be monitored, how it is processed and stored, and where it is visualized and shared. 

Finally, the flexibility of ExoSense means support personnel are never stuck with a one-size-fits-all monitoring solution. Instead, they can use the ExoSense features to customize a solution that addresses the specific pain points of their users. And, with the ability to completely white-label the ExoSense application, they can offer a fully branded solution that looks and feels like their own.

Key ExoSense Features 

ExoSense provides the following features that are purpose-built for water quality and water management system monitoring use cases:

  • Drag-and-drop dashboards for real-time visualization of process parameters, equipment health, and water quality monitoring.

  • Customizable rules to set thresholds and trigger real-time SMS and email alerts for technicians 24 hours a day.
  • Flexible permissions schemes to give different users access to dashboards and data that are applicable to their role.
  • Analytics and insights functions that can be used by experienced technicians to enable predictive maintenance, proactive response, and machine learning. 
  • Inherent, industry-accepted security standards for device and system connectivity.
  • Availability of historical data for long-term trend analysis.
  • APIs for integrations with other systems and third-party services, like weather forecasting and task integration. 
  • Image overlay panels enable real-life visualization of assets within facilities to quickly pinpoint problem assets and location.

  • Hardware-agnostic connections to prevent vendor lock-in and provide the flexibility to select the best sensors for every project. 
  • White label capabilities to customize colors, logo, and branding of customer-facing user interface. 

For a more in-depth look at all of the features ExoSense has to offer, visit our technical documentation site.

The Outcomes

Organizations leveraging ExoSense have been able to:

  • Minimize startup and ongoing costs associated with remote monitoring. As a production-ready solution, ExoSense includes the ongoing maintenance, updates, and technical support users need to leverage remote monitoring without having to develop or manage the solution themselves. This significantly reduces both the initial investment needed to get started and the ongoing costs to keep a solution running.
  • Reduce operational costs and optimize usage of key personnel. ExoSense allows multiple pieces of equipment, systems, and facilities to be monitored from one simple application. As a result, experienced technicians can support a larger number of municipalities and less experienced technicians remotely, meaning they can do more, travel less, and lower operational costs.
  • Eliminate unnecessary downtime and enable proactive maintenance. ExoSense enables operational analytics and insights based on historical data and the institutional knowledge of experienced technicians. Consequently, support personnel can better anticipate mechanical issues, maintain inventory of critical parts, and perform maintenance before downtime occurs. 
  • Increase service revenue and brand stickiness. With the flexibility of ExoSense, support personnel can create a fully-branded solution that addresses the specific pain points of their customers. When sold as a valuable add-on to existing service contracts, organizations experience increased revenue and more loyal customers.

Think ExoSense could do the same for you? Connect with an Exosite solution expert to talk about your application needs and see a demo of ExoSense today. 

Ready to take ExoSense for a test drive to see if it’s right for you? Visit our website to request your risk-free trial now.