An Antiquated Need
The treatment of water for residential and industrial use dates back thousands of years. From the Egyptians purifying drinking water through coagulation techniques to the Romans constructing aqueducts – water treatment has been a cornerstone to our civilization.
Some of those same antiquated techniques, such as coagulation and filtration, still exist today. But unlike ancient aqueduct bridges and sand, modern methods require technology to instantly serve thousands of residents and businesses – anytime, anywhere.
The Commerce Township Wastewater Treatment Plant, located in Commerce Township, Michigan, is one of many treatment facilities taking advantage of automation equipment to treat more than 2 million gallons of wastewater per day from its community.
A Bump in the Road
In 2010, the Commerce Township WWTP underwent a significant expansion project to meet the anticipated growth of the surrounding communities by nearly tripling its capacity from 2.4 million to 8.5 million gallons per day. After the installation of variable frequency drives (VFD’S), the Commerce Township WWTP hit a few bumps in the road.
“We were having numerous power interruptions that required our staff to reset process equipment,” said Brian Bennett, operations engineer at Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office (WRC) in Commerce Township. “Over time, the interruptions were causing damage to our equipment. This equipment doesn’t fail immediately – it’s similar to hitting speed bumps in your car. You can go down the road and hit potholes only so long, but eventually it’s going to take its toll.”
After several months, the power interruptions resulted in multiple hours of unplanned downtime that required Commerce Township WWTP staff to manually reset equipment with limited insight as to the cause. After the interruptions resulted in two damaged variable frequency drives (VFDs), Commerce Township WWTP knew it needed to get to the bottom of the problem.
A Treatment to the Interruption
To help identify the root cause, the Rockwell Automation Global Solutions team, who earlier installed the VFDs, ran multiple equipment tests to the installed VFDs. The goal was to see if the problem was being caused by faulty equipment or by the quality of the incoming power. According to Steve Liebrecht, water and wastewater industry team lead for Rockwell Automation, since power utilities typically measure availability – not quality – it is common for these small occurrences to go undetected.