Engineers working in the water industry are sometimes required to work in some very hostile and remote places. The water industry relies on the use of plants and reservoirs that may be hundreds of miles from a central office or head quarters and monitoring these is a potential challenge. Canal and irrigation management also requires that companies utilise M2M wireless technology to first record and then transmit data over great distances. Water companies and agencies need to keep a constant check on the quality and condition of their reservoirs, treatment plants and canals and for a large company this can mean monitoring thousands of places across the country.
This is why the water industry has been keen to use wireless M2M technologies. Wireless M2M allows companies to gather data in a remote location, a reservoir or a treatment plant for example, and transmit that data to a central office without any human intervention. It means that a water utility can instantly measure the quality and level of the water in a dam or treatment plant, allowing them to reduce risk and budget more effectively. It’s a simple and cost-effective method for a water utility to manage resources and keep on top of legal and regulatory obligations.
These companies, however, still need to decide grand purpose M2M technologies will serve. It is essential that they consider what machines, sensors, facilities, security systems, vehicles, plant equipment, supplies and materials it would be worth communicating automatically and wirelessly with. Moreover, what automatic monitoring data would be necessary for the operation?
Plants, reservoirs and canals are frequent application areas for wireless M2M but also utility companies who often maintain their assets (lines, substations, transformers, pipelines, storage tanks etc) in remote locations. It is these remote locations, as mentioned above, that require remote M2M sensors and wireless chips that can monitor and then report to a central location.
What happens next is vitally important, for without it the whole process up until now falls short. M2M data, just sent from device to central location, is simply that: data. It is series of electrical signals produced by a source and received by its partnered device. What the system at the central location needs to do is to “understand” and “interpret” this information, ensuring that the data is always secure from the start. The data is useless until it is integrated with the right systems and then “translated” so that managers (humans) can understand it and make informed decisions from then on.
The key to this industry at least is to ensure that security, reliability, and coherency go hand in hand with mobility.