Foundation fieldbus for the water industry

Faced with water supply scarcity but increasing population and consumption, automation can play a part in providing tighter control and enabling more sophisticated water treatment technologies. However, as attendees to the recent Fieldbus Foundation seminar event, Foundation Fieldbus in Water Automation – Explore the Benefits, in Singapore found out, the water & wastewater industry still predominantly uses PLCs for control and hardwired, analog devices as the instrumentation.

Using Foundation fieldbus technology can lower overall automation cost by reducing engineering, hardware, and installation labor – particularly for electric actuators, on/off and control valves, and pump vibration monitors, each of which would require a large number of conductor pairs in conventional hardwiring scenario.

Foundation fieldbus H1 when used as the network for instrumentation and process controls delivers a number of advantages, such as: precisely periodic sampling interval as required for high performance PID control loops; controlin- the-field (CIF) for higher quality and greater throughput; and remote firmware download instead of circuit board replacement or laptop connected in the field.

Attendees also learnt how smarter instrumentation with advanced diagnostics such as pH sensor fouling and fault detection can be used to target maintenance where and when it is needed. That is, predictive instead of reactive maintenance. Another example is smart meter verification, which can determine if flowmeter calibration is required or if it can wait. As the logistics and cost of calibrating flowmeters is very high, the potential savings are large, while regulatory requirements are still met.

Aside from the presentations, participants had a chance to get up close and personal to instruments, cables, valves and controllers displays provided by Azbil, Emerson Process Management, Lapp Kabel, Leoni Kerpen, MTL, Pepperl+Fuchs, Phoenix Contact, Rockwell Automation, SMAR, Vega, and Yokogawa.

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