Management of Drive Technology in Wastewater Treatment Plants

Management of Drive Technology in Wastewater Treatment Plants

Management of Drive Technology in Wastewater Treatment Plants

Jun 19, 2024 | SEW-EURODRIVE

Reading time: 4 Minutes

A guide for wastewater treatment

A wastewater treatment plant must keep operating continuously because the flow of wastewater never stops. Modern plants are complex facilities with pumps, motors, and control systems that need to work reliably around the clock. As a wastewater technology specialist and plant operator, this responsibility falls on you, along with the need to maintain an overview of operations. Versatility is essential. You need to be well-versed in electrical and pipeline engineering, take care of machinery and its maintenance, and conduct laboratory tests. Your primary concern is ensuring the plant operates smoothly and complies with regulatory guidelines, as the quality of the treated water provides proof of this. The "moment of truth" comes when authorities measure the discharge levels. Unsatisfactory results can lead to substantial fines.

Throughout the plant, electrical drives operate under high loads and in challenging environmental conditions. Any failure is both problematic and inconvenient. The inlet pumping station is especially vulnerable because if a total failure occurs despite the screw pumps' redundant design, wastewater builds up at the entrance to the plant. Rapid action is then absolutely essential. Aerating the aeration tank is also critical because the bacteria are unlikely to survive for long if this system fails. Rapid intervention is also required if the scraper in the secondary clarifier stops working. Otherwise, sludge will accumulate.

Based on our experience:

Additional problems arise from outdated technology for which replacement parts are no longer available, making direct swaps impossible. Frequent renovations and modernizations at wastewater treatment plants result in a mix of incompatible equipment. Constantly changing regulations and new purification processes necessitate conversions and extensions, creating a vicious cycle.

As a plant operator, you also need to consider energy efficiency. Wastewater treatment plants account for around 20% of municipal energy consumption, which requires significant attention. Industry 4.0 is another important factor. This technical revolution is impacting wastewater treatment plants, as cutting-edge sensor technology and distributed intelligence promise to enhance operational reliability and simplify operations in ways previously unimaginable. Even if you currently prefer relying on emergency pumps with a float bulb, it's essential to explore and appreciate the substantial benefits of digital technology.


In-house or Third-Party Repair?

As an experienced treatment plant operator, you can handle many repair and maintenance tasks yourself. The main benefit of this is speed, provided the right components and spare parts are in stock or can be delivered quickly. However, problems often arise when it comes to stocking and ordering parts.

Spare Parts Stock:

Keeping a stock of spare parts for emergencies is a good idea, especially for basic wear parts that are regularly required and place little strain on the budget. Complete drives, however, are a different matter. Most plants operate drive solutions from various manufacturers, depending on which companies handled the individual process steps. This can make it difficult to know the details of all products, and storing spare parts for too long can be problematic.

Ordering Parts:

You might know exactly which part needs replacing, but if the supplier tells you it will take two weeks to arrive, this is often unacceptable. Dealing with repairs yourself also carries the risk that manufacturers may not honor warranty claims if someone else has opened the gear unit cover.

Maintenance Contracts:

Rapid action is required during plant failures, and maintenance agreements with manufacturers can help reduce unplanned downtime. However, if a plant operates drives from various manufacturers, it can be challenging to manage all components effectively.

Comprehensive Service Providers:

The best solution is a service provider that takes responsibility for all components, regardless of the manufacturer and is authorized to carry out repairs under warranty. SEW-EURODRIVE is one such service provider, offering a range of services to support the management of your plant, including:

  • 24-hour service hotline
  • Inspection and maintenance service
  • Repair service
  • Spare parts service
  • Retrofit service
  • Condition monitoring service
  • DriveRadar®
  • CDM® maintenance management


When Your Plant is Showing Its Age…

Many wastewater treatment plants have been operating for 20 to 30 years and require modernization to keep up with advancing technology and changing regulations. Ensuring high system availability and state-of-the-art technology is crucial for plant operators. SEW-EURODRIVE offers solutions like Retrofit Service to optimize plant availability and process reliability, reducing energy costs and ensuring components function properly.

Real-Life Example:

An operator of the Kleinsteinbach wastewater treatment plant had SEW-EURODRIVE perform a preventive inspection of its drive technology. Using a flexible video endoscope, service experts assessed the condition of gearing components and bearings without disassembling the gear unit. This diagnostic check identified early signs of damage, prompting the replacement of critical gear units with SEW-EURODRIVE’s industrial gear units.

Operators' Benefits of Modernization:

  • Reduced oil costs
  • Optimal utilization of oil service life
  • Clear indication of maintenance needs
  • Permanent monitoring of oil aging
  • Improved planning for maintenance and repairs
  • Increased availability of components and systems


SEW-EURODRIVE as a Partner

Choosing the right component and service partner is vital for high system availability. SEW-EURODRIVE’s service team is familiar with the requirements of wastewater treatment plants, offering comprehensive support beyond product maintenance, including energy consulting and commercial services like electronic billing.

Scenario 1: Spare Parts Service:

Imagine starting your day by checking your plant’s control station and the monitor indicates that a screw pump at the inlet has stopped working because the gear motor has broken down. You immediately start looking for the cause. The fault appears to be in the gear unit, so you dismantle it with the help of your colleagues and start the troubleshooting process. You ultimately conclude that bearing X has got stuck and is preventing the gear from working. You decide to carry out the repair yourself, for which you need a new bearing. Using your phone or tablet to scan the QR on your gear unit you quickly access the SEW-EURODRIVE Digital Services Cockpit and can identify and order the necessary replacement part. Once the part arrives, you and your team install it, resuming normal operations promptly.

Scenario 2: Operational Reliability:

A message on your monitor indicates a bearing in the screw pump’s gear unit is operating slower than normal. SEW-EURODRIVE’s service team receives the alert and predicts when the bearing is likely to fail, allowing for a scheduled replacement. This proactive approach minimizes downtime and ensures continuous operation.

Advanced Solutions:

SEW-EURODRIVE’s DriveRadar® uses sensors to monitor various parameters, providing a digital map of drive components and system solutions. This technology helps predict and prevent unplanned stoppages, ensuring optimal system performance.

For more information about SEW-EURODRIVE’s services and solutions, contact your local representative – Find My Rep.

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