Improve process automation? Take a moment to investigate the opportunities of innovative IT

  • 26 April 2023
  • 5 minutes

In The Netherlands, several organisations are involved in water management, including water authorities, drinking water companies, Rijkswaterstaat, and municipalities. These organisations are faced with major strategic challenges that cannot wait for years to be resolved.

Think of wastewater circularity, raising groundwater levels, energy savings at water treatment plants, pumping stations and other energy-intensive assets. These are complex issues with many dependencies. Fortunately, many of these organisations also realise that data-driven working methods help in gaining more insight into these dependencies.

OT and IT are different environments

It is better not to leave data-driven working methods to the OT environment, which is typically the domain of IT. Water management has traditionally been strongly OT-driven. Just think of the high-tech water treatment plants with their complex process automation. This process automation, which controls the PLCs for controlling the pumps and valves and the SCADA systems for monitoring the processes, can be made even more intelligent with an IT layer. And the knowledge of this IT layer is often less present in organisations. Besides, IT that drives OT is a profession in its own right.

IT that makes OT even smarter

What do we actually mean by IT for OT? That question can have multiple answers. It could involve heavy mathematical models that calculate how a wastewater treatment plant or a pump for drinking water can be optimally adjusted. Or image recognition algorithms that analyse video images taken by drones, which can make it easy to detect weak spots in dykes. Think also of predictive algorithms that use historical and current data to indicate how a pump can process the expected amount of water in the most energy-efficient way. And what about a digital twin that can be made visible with a HoloLens ? Put on AR glasses and see exactly what is happening inside a technical system.

Innovation without adding new vulnerabilities

In short, new technology offers endless opportunities to work more efficiently and effectively. Here and there, water companies are already experimenting with this. This is great. But there are also challenges, especially when it comes to the security aspects of integrating IT with OT. Are you curious about how you can safely use IT in your OT environment, without introducing new vulnerabilities? Consult our website to read more about the possible opportunities.

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Léon Huijsdens