Transforming wastewater transportation with Xylem

Pumping and transporting wastewater appears to be a simple thing to do. However, the demands of wastewater transport are far from basic and challenge the best of us. Xylem sets the standard for both efficiency and reliability in transporting wastewater to treatment facilities.

Pumping and transporting wastewater appears to be a simple thing to do. However, the demands of wastewater transport are far from basic and challenge the best of us. Xylem sets the standard for both efficiency and reliability in transporting wastewater to treatment facilities.

“Xylem offers a comprehensive package of technology, hardware, software, algorithms, and connectors that enable utilities and local councils to immediately enhance their operational efficiency,” said Jason Morris, Product Manager for Pumps Stations at Xylem.

Older systems need to be replaced, and original equipment must be upgraded. Utilities are challenged to be smarter in transporting wastewater to the treatment plant. They need to squeeze more efficiency from their equipment, reduce energy use and add advanced processes. Newer pump stations must predict the future, plan for expandability and stricter environmental controls.

Who is Jason Morris?

People like Morris are leading the charge. Having joined Xylem 16 years ago, he believes the future for Xylem is bright and lives by the company’s slogan, ‘Let’s Solve Water’.

“Much of my career has been involved in environmental monitoring,” said Morris.

Morris got involved in the wastewater industry through his instrumentation and process engineering background.

Making a difference

Xylem is providing innovative solutions that help utilities meet an array of issues that are helping Australian water utilities and local councils move towards better wastewater transport through pump stations.

“The biggest challenge that Australia faces, is it such a vast area and distributed population. Small towns are now working much harder on treating their wastewater than they did about 50 years ago,” he said.

Xylem supports water utilities and municipal councils to improve operational efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and optimise network processes. Much of this comes from the design of the wastewater pump stations — an area that Morris focuses on.

“Most utilities are using Xylem’s FLYGT-branded pumps that work to optimise the pump stations. All the utilities want their pump stations to work efficiently and transport the wastewater fluids to the treatment plant uninterrupted. Any spill could cost large fines and environmental cleanup.”

Design is key

The design of wastewater pump stations is crucial because it directly impacts the performance and reliability of the system. A well-designed pump station reduces the likelihood of unscheduled callouts and ensures efficient and effective wastewater management.

“The last thing any operator wants is to get an unscheduled call out,” said Morris. “Calling on maintenance teams at night to attend the site to unclog a pump is highly inconvenient and uneconomical. It is why optimising the design of a pump station is critical.”

Morris explained that the bottom of the pump station should not be flat because it leads to sedimentation in the corners of the station. As sedimentation increases, it increases the risk of blockages. Even though pumps are designed to handle solids, it’s when the solids start to coagulate and clump together that problems begin.

“Fatbergs are also a big problem for pump stations,” he said. “Breaking up fatbergs and unsettling the coagulating sedimentation in wastewater systems is the solution. We have the equipment to break up the collection of fat, oil, and wet wipes using mixers or flush valves. They can be pointed at the mass to stir the materials and put them back into suspension. The pumps can then process those materials.”

Individualised, customised design

Understanding what each project needs is critical to designing the pump stations. Morris pointed to the importance of examining the issues that are happening on-site.

“Every site is unique, and the site’s situation relative to other factors can reflect the number of solutions that Xylem implements,” he said. “For example, if we know that there’s going to be a lot of fat and oil in the wastewater, we can put those specific solutions in place. “Greenfield sites have different challenges, as we need to flush the pump station regularly. It’s important to bring the flow up to scouring velocity. This minimum velocity is required to keep the solid particles in suspension with water, and particles keep moving with water.”

He also pointed to the importance of having pumps that can detect blockages themselves, such as the FLYGT CONCERTOR range that can spin backwards to remove blockages and have another go at processing the materials. Morris stressed that Xylem has a range of different solutions for different situations.

“We ask customers about the problems they are facing. Once the client starts talking about the specific problems they want to solve, Xylem can help by offering a range of solutions to improve the efficiency of the pump stations,” he said.

Algorithms and software

Xylem‘s FLYGT SECAD software supports the optimal design of pump stations. It utilises advanced engineering techniques and data analysis. FLYGT SECAD considers factors such as hydraulic requirements, site conditions, and specific project needs. It helps the company generate tailored and efficient pump station designs. The software also helps reduce operational issues, maximise performance, and enhance overall wastewater management by optimising the design process.

“FLYGT SECAD improves wastewater station performance by design,” said Morris. “It leverages the experience and expertise of FLYGT to design pump stations that are robust and optimised for efficiency. This results in enhanced performance, reduced downtime, and improved overall operational effectiveness.”

“We do a lot of 3D modelling to understand how the pump stations would work,” Morris said. “We can show where the inlets are going to be, how the valve chamber is going to be set up, and where some of the accessories for the valve chamber can be installed.”

The wastewater network flow can be monitored and optimised using a digital twin, Xylem Powered by GoAigua platform. This can iron out peaks and troughs in the flow to the treatment plant. It is a significant part of the digital transformation that water utilities are working on.

The algorithms used in Flygt pumps help achieve high-quality pump operations. These algorithms enable functions like unblocking, cleaning, and energy optimisation. Each algorithm contributes to the pump system’s reliability, efficiency, and performance.

Xylem’s data scientists have been working hard on algorithms that optimise not just products but the entire network operation. Eventually, AI will optimise those algorithms even further. “Digital twins allow utilities to develop a digital equivalent, or twin, of their assets in the field,” he said. “It allows utilities to experiment with different asset settings under the closest approximation to real-world applications. The machine-learning algorithms will support water utilities as they digitise their entire network.”

Supporting sustainability and net zero

Net zero and being sustainable can be challenging for wastewater pump stations. Given that they must be on much of the time, pump stations tend to consume large amounts of power.

“Optimising the pump duty point means that Xylem can help utilities optimise their energy consumption,” said Morris. “If we’re pumping into a network that has some semi-closed valves, the algorithms will indicate excessive energy consumption. It allows utilities to find the problem and solve it.”

By providing advanced water and wastewater treatment technologies, Xylem enables utilities to improve energy efficiency, reduce water consumption, and optimise process performance. Its data-driven solutions and digitisation facilitate the identification of areas for improvement. Utilities can implement predictive maintenance strategies and optimise operations. These efforts contribute to net-zero goals by minimising environmental impact and maximising resource utilisation.

“Solving water challenges is what we do best at Xylem. Our technology helps utilities and local government to optimise their wastewater systems,” said Morris.

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