How Ekopak Manages Water Treatment Data with InfluxDB
By Susannah Brodnitz / Aug 31, 2022 / IIoT, InfluxDB
A wide variety of industrial processes rely on water, and before it can be used, it needs to be treated to remove dissolved substances. Minerals have to be filtered out so they don’t form scales on equipment as water is heated and cooled, and bacteria needs to be removed in cases involving human health.
Ekopak is a Belgian company working to make water treatment more sustainable by using less water and energy where possible. With the help of Factry Historian, an industrial data management platform, they transitioned to a more efficient data management system, which includes InfluxDB.
What needed to change
Ekopak finances, designs, manufactures, and operates water treatment installations within containers for various industrial purposes. Its clients install these containers in their facilities. Ekopak collects data from the instruments and uses it to find problems and put together performance reports for its clients.
Ekopak operates many installations of water treatment equipment and constantly has data coming in that needs analysis. They use data to find malfunctioning equipment, create invoices, and, crucially, to maintain machinery before it needs repairs. Prior to implementing their new data management system, the Ekopak team had to continuously redownload data manually and recreate cluttered Excel files. This process took up valuable time and discouraged additional calculations to explore data.
The new system
Factry Historian is a data management system that stores data in InfluxDB automatically. OPC-UA data collectors are installed on small, wireless connected Raspberry PIs within Ekopak’s water treatment containers. These devices connect to Factry backends and employees can choose what tags or measurements they want to receive. Ekopak is now able to work with large amounts of data with more ease, making it simpler for the company to grow.
Now instead of analyzing data using spreadsheets, Ekopak visualizes data from InfluxDB using Grafana to create dashboards. Much of this process is automatic and updates in real time so employees can focus on analyzing data to find root causes of machinery issues, and schedule maintenance proactively before problems even occur.
More time to explore data
In one case, using Flux led the team to new insights about water filters. When they were using Excel, analysts created charts of water pressure over time before and after passing through a filter. After switching to using Flux, Factry was able to play around with data more and subtracted pressure after filtration from pressure beforehand. This graph of the pressure difference across the filter increased over time as sediment stuck to the filter. Plotting the difference in pressure instead of two separate pressure metrics gave the Ekopak team more useful information, and it’s the ease and freedom to explore data using dashboards that led them to this. Measuring metrics like pressure difference remotely lets Ekopak know when to change filters without having to manually inspect them.
Ekopak has also found that new hires find dashboards simple to work with. The company is able to train people more quickly and get them ready to act on data. As Ekopak works with more clients, they have to manage greater volumes of more complex data, and the new data management system helps make that possible.
To learn more about this use case, read the full case study.