How Accurate Instrumentation to Monitor Changing Conditions Can Improve Waste Water Treatment Plants

Interactive training that enables users to engage with the program actively and receive feedback in real time

Interactive training that enables users to engage with the program actively and receive feedback in real time

In fine-tuning methodologies in water treatment plants (WTPs) and wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs), it is a requirement to develop versatile and accurate instrumentation that can monitor and respond to variable conditions.

Maximizing the potential of meters, gauges, and analyzers requires knowledgeable operators. As such, instrumentation decisions should be made not simply for feature-rich technologies and quality performance, but also for the support or training that allow staff to capitalize on the investment fully.

Consider Both Technical and Practical Aspects

Instruments and analyzers used in WTP and WWTP performance optimization applications need to respond to normal input flow variations, as well as extreme process demands. In both applications, frequently-used measurement and analysis equipment generally includes flow measurement, temperature measurement, and continuous water analyzers for a range of chemistries.

To keep such applications in peak efficient operation, training should cover both practical and technical operational aspects:

  • Satisfy plant-specific needs – It is helpful to consult with instrument sales representatives or supplier websites to learn about training and support opportunities that are available to designers and operators of either new plant systems or currently installed equipment. Such services should detail product depth and application information required to fine-tune WTP or WWTP operating efficiency and maximize equipment investment.
  • Keep pace with personnel changes – During training, mapping out available options ahead of a new equipment or operational decision is advisable and can pay dividends in the long run. It is important to invest in supplier relationships and training resources to ensure that all routine plant functions and potential problems will always be addressed effectively.

Reach Employees at Their Level

Interactive training, includes classroom instruction (on-site or at a manufacturer’s location) or e-learning, can enable users to engage with the program actively and receive timely feedback.

At the minimum, training should cover product operation, but more than that, it should tackle applications where WTP/WWTP personnel regularly interact with instruments. It is imperative to utilize versatile training formats that meet staff needs and are also in line with their specific responsibilities:

  • Classroom training – For some installations or for less-experienced operators, a trip to the manufacturer’s location may be helpful in gaining an in-depth and hands-on experience. This should be done in a facility that is well equipped to demonstrate both routine operations and exceptional conditions.
  • Online e-learning – Professionally-developed online training materials may also be helpful in exposing water plant operators to operating principles, specific instrumentation functionality, and examples of use in related applications. End-of-course test modules would determine trainees’ learnings and quantify the management’s confidence in their ability to correctly respond to challenges in the field.

A specific advantage of such a format is that all plant personnel enrolled in the training are exposed to the same information, resulting in consistency of operation across all shifts. Additionally, e-learning is easily available in mobile platforms, thus allowing users to review training demonstrations right at the source of a problem.

  • Onsite training – Personalized training can be conducted at an end-user facility, enabling operators to interact with the equipment and actual environment that they work with daily.
  • Video training – Live videos that demonstrate operating principles, calibration, and troubleshooting can be of great help to users in remote locations (Figure 1). Alternatively, training videos that subdivided into distinct modules make easier for any user to focus on a specific topic.
    Observing step-by-step instructions could help users address problems without disrupting their process. Unless there is a major problem, this could also eliminate the need to physically send in an instrument for repair, thus reducing potential time off-line.
  • By-the-book training – Documentation is available in printed or soft-copy formats. It is a reliable training and reference tool for introducing new employees to equipment performance before they receive one-on-one training. It also enables users to refresh their familiarity with exceptional operational occurrences.

Cover All the Bases

From a variety of flow meters to task-specific analyzers for turbidity, conductivity, level, pH, redox, phosphate or ammonia, every aspect of plant operation has different needs.

Suppliers that provide a wide range of instrumentation, along with consistently delivered training support, enable plant operators to become familiar with common interfaces, functions, and troubleshooting techniques. Regardless of the training format chosen, training should always ensure the following:

  • User understanding of the technologies used to treat water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use
  • Awareness of key analytical measurements needed to observe and manage each water treatment process
  • Detailed knowledge on how to use, maintain, and troubleshoot application-specific instrumentation and processes
  • Understanding of analytical results and the role they play in optimum water quality and performance economics
  • References for which spare parts and tools to purchase
  • Skills to perform onsite diagnosis before returning an instrument to the factory for repair or to complete minor repairs onsite

Training is not a one-time engagement at the time of initial purchase or installation of a new piece of instrumentation. It should be seen as an ongoing resource for keeping WTPs and WWTPs in compliance and operating at maximum efficiency, even after initial instrument installation and training.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by ABB Measurement & Analytics.

For more information on this source, please visit ABB Measurement & Analytics.

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