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Adding connectivity to the means of productions offers immense possibilities for growth in manufacturing and services. But choosing the right Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) network is still important. The Portuguese water distribution company Águas do Norte illustrates this perfectly.

The solution designed by Actemium displays performance indicators linked to responsiveness in recognising and resolving alerts.

From process optimisation to higher equipment availability thanks to predictive maintenance, from improved security and continuous quality control to reduced costs, data is an essential factor in industrial efficiency. With the rise of Industry 4.0 in connecting the means of production, manufacturing and security constraints require the right choice of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions.

In Portugal, Águas do Norte faced this choice. The water distribution company was looking for a platform capable of centralising all their network information in real time. This information had previously been widely dispersed (alarms, visualisation methods, etc.). Enter Actemium Portugal, a VINCI Energies business unit dedicated to industrial processes, to design a hub for alerts and ad hoc notifications (Central de Alertas e Notificações, or CAN).

The software developed for Águas do Norte enabled them to reduce operating costs.”

This platform was developed from a wide range of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition*) architecture. As José Sacramento, Business Unit Manager at Actemium Portugal, explains: “This gives them a highly scalable system, capable of integrating not only SCADA systems, but also information from different sources with IoT-oriented development tools”.

Cost reductions and teamwork

In practical terms, the system uses automatic learning modules to provide various statistical indicators linked to alert and event types. It identifies and automatically prioritises alarms while eliminating false alarms. The platform also displays performance indicators linked to responsiveness in recognising and resolving alerts. The indicators are all stored in a database and later used by artificial intelligence algorithms.

“Programs developed from aggregated data on weather alerts, preventive maintenance schedules and Águas do Norte vehicle fleet management make it possible to manage systems more efficiently, encourage teamwork and reduce operating costs”, continues José Sacramento. “We can then correlate and predict in advance the level of operational risk, and thus respond more quickly to abnormal events”.

Using applications on mobile devices offers teams greater on-site mobility and more collaborative working, by giving them all access to the same information in real time. “Response time can thus be less than two hours. In some cases, they even intervene in advance before a fault occurs”, says the Actemium Portugal Business Unit Manager.

The project developed by Actemium launched in November 2020, and has been operational since April 2021. A new contract has been signed with Águas do Norte to develop new functionality as needed. For example, a function was recently integrated into the platform to provide four indicators linked to water quality in dam reservoirs, obtained from satellite image processing, again using automatic learning algorithms. “We’re currently preparing an offer for another water distribution company in Portugal”, says José Sacramento.

*Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition: industrial monitoring that processes a large number of measurements in real time and remotely controls installations.