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Cloud-based alarm and monitoring systems cut costs, improve productivity

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Remote monitoring can reduce the amount of time staff spend checking remote water and wastewater infrastructure.

Facing tremendous growth, one town’s water and wastewater system had to prepare to support new residents and businesses, while keeping costs in check. Its current system serves 1,670 sewer-use customers across approximately 47 square kilometres, providing 2.08 – 2.3 million litres per day (MLD) of wastewater treatment through its network of eight lift stations, and another 0.83 MLD at a water booster station.

The town recently approved building 890 new homes within town limits, plus the possibility of an additional 1,200 homes in adjacent areas, all of which are to be served by its water/wastewater department. To support this growth, the community plans to build an additional four pump stations in the coming years.

Growing pains

As the service area grows, so will the challenges. The water and wastewater department has relied on RACO Verbatim® units for years. However, the costs of installing and maintaining new phone lines are unsustainable as more remote locations come online. Also, the small staff of just seven full-time employees must spend more time driving to increasingly remote stations to ensure the system is functioning properly.

Given these factors, the town decided to use RACO’s AlarmAgent, which uses cloud-based alarms and monitoring that can span a larger area at a lower cost than traditional landlines. Town staff were able to handle the simple installation, as the units fit directly into existing panels with no need for modifications.

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Now that the system is live, staff can use AlarmAgent to tell them what is going on with the stations. When they were dependent on phone lines, operators went to check each station daily. Now that they receive a report every morning from AlarmAgent, they only need go out to stations three days per week – twice to check on them and once for maintenance and cleanup.

The system is helping the town save over $9,000 just in annual phone line costs, not to mention the hassle, hours and cost of driving to each station.

AlarmAgent monthly monitoring services run at just $30 per station, compared to $115 per month per station for landline-based monitoring.

Operators can now monitor all pumps remotely and be alerted when anything is amiss, before the problem escalates. AlarmAgent can also help the team assess which pumps are working near or beyond capacity, enabling preventative maintenance and rebalancing of the system.

AlarmAgent has also eliminated the need for paper logbooks. Automated reporting offers far more information, including a dashboard full of vital details. Cloud-based alarms instantly notify the entire team, with customizable notification preferences that best use staff time.

RACO is represented by SPD Sales Limited. This article appears in ES&E Magazine’s February 2020 issue.

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