Managing water with smart technology

By |  January 30, 2023
Condition monitoring tools now provide health guidance and predictive maintenance advice for rotating and fixed assets such as pumps and motors. Photo: Xylem

Condition monitoring tools now provide health guidance and predictive maintenance advice for rotating and fixed assets such as pumps and motors. Photo: Xylem

With 2023 underway, expect smart water management and safety to become even more critical for aggregate producers.

As higher costs and regulatory demands increase, the drive for improved efficiency and cost effectiveness will be seen across the industry. With drought conditions and water-use limits tightening across the U.S., a focus will be placed on the sustainable use of all-natural resources. These real-world business impacts will culminate in greater demand for smart, digital water management tools and systems.

Efficiency gains

Water quality is coming under close scrutiny.

As market demand for quality mined products increases, the need for higher quality process water grows. This includes ensuring efficient water flows and pressures within washing, screening and sizing operations.

To support this demand, product and service solutions will continue to grow in popularity and penetrate all levels of the industry.

These solutions include condition-monitoring tools, water quality management systems, pump and asset controls, and preventive maintenance agreements.

Corrective maintenance has a negative impact on an operation’s production output and bottom line. Preventive maintenance programs and digital monitoring equipment are simple solutions to optimize a plant’s uptime.

Monitoring systems can identify problems before they turn into catastrophic failures. Take bearings as an example. An improperly greased bearing can cause a pump to exceed its optimal running temperature.

With a monitoring device in place, a high bearing temperature alarm can alert teams to a problem bearing and provide an opportunity to service the bearing in time. This can prevent the pump from failing and shutting down an entire operation.

Safety gains

Safety continues to be a priority and discussion point on mine sites, as well. Yet, a safety area often overlooked is pump and asset control.

Leveraging today’s digital technology solutions, operators now have the ability to remotely monitor pump performance, pit water levels and discharge water quality during a severe weather event or off-hours. This mitigates the need for staff to perform inspections on-site. By simply using a smart device, a team, jobsite and the surrounding environment are protected 24/7.

The bottom line

Smart water management makes sense on so many levels, from optimizing productivity on sites to protecting the environment and respecting water as a finite resource.

Holistic mine water management is key to optimize efficiency, reliability and productivity. Examining each step in a water system helps to get the most from assets and maintain an optimal operation, as well as make sure water dollars are working as hard as possible.

Fortunately, smart technologies, powerful pumping equipment and expert service can overcome the most complex water management challenges. This is good news for the growth and sustainability of the industry in the year ahead.

Ken Albaugh is director of sales and services at Xylem.

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