Wastewater & Data Center Automation: Zero Defects, Zero Downtime

In the industrial sector, there are certain subfields that require more rigorous automation solutions than others. For instance, continuous manufacturing, where any downtime, unexpected or not, is an urgent situation with significant implications. A step farther is the mission critical field – wastewater facilities, power plants, data centers, hospitals.

Where downtime is a huge risk for continuous manufacturing facilities, it is absolutely devastating for mission critical facilities. Consider the incident in 2010 where the automation system at a wastewater facility in Toledo, Ohio failed and millions of gallons of untreated wastewater was released into the city’s water supply. It left nearly half a million people without safe, potable water for over a week.

Just like the Ohio wastewater crisis, these consequences can be far-reaching, societally, which is why automation for mission critical entities like data centers must be flawless. They need to be robust, redundant, secure, and user-friendly. They can’t have blind spots. They need analytics that predict imminent issues and perform predictive maintenance.

Let’s look at why mission critical automation is different:

Understanding Automation for Water Utilities

There are factors wastewater facilities deal with that aren’t common in many other sectors of industrial automation. Nor can we forget the immediate and potentially-dire risks that come with them. For instance, automated processes in water utilities deal with:

  • Biohazard waste and treatment chemicals
  • Massive volumes of continuous data
  • 24/7/365 operation
  • Strict regulations

This requires that automation systems for wastewater facilities:

  • Perform real-time data analytics
  • Have comprehensive, multi-level network security
  • Be reliable and consistent to keep with regulations
  • Be easy for users to interact with and configure

What’s different about water utilities, as opposed even to most other mission critical facilities, is that the risk of automation system failure poses immediate, widespread, physical risk to the public. Robust, fortress-like control systems are unquestionably essential to this field of industrial automation.

Data Center Automation is Unique

Data centers are a newer sector, but they’ve quickly become something our society relies on to function. This trend will not slow down. Automation for data centers doesn’t have time to learn and catch up; it needs to meet all criteria, now. Data center automation differs from other sectors of industry because:

  1. Data centers are critical infrastructure that must be operational at all times. This means that the automation systems must be highly reliable and resilient.
  2. Data centers often contain sensitive data that must be protected from unauthorized access. This means that the automation systems must be secure.
  3. Data centers are often complex environments with a large number of interconnected systems. This means that the automation systems must be able to manage these systems effectively.

While the consequences of system failure aren’t physical as they are with wastewater, that does not mean they’re not consequential. System failures can put thousands of people’s personal data at risk, cause significant financial losses, lead to regulatory fines, etc. Multilevel security that provides total coverage for every system in the facility is a non-negotiable in data center automation.

How Mission Critical Automation Provides Solutions

As the needs for mission critical entities are myriad and specialized, there are obstacles to overcome. Automation systems for data centers and water utilities are complex, with many interconnected processes that need to communicate clearly and consistently. They need unmatched cybersecurity. They need to be flexible without compromising reliability, to always stay above regulatory benchmarks.

When it comes to something as sensitive as a data center or wastewater facility, human error can also be a security vulnerability. Automation systems for mission critical can eliminate human shortcomings in crucial processes like:

  • Infrastructure provisioning and configuration
  • Application deployment and management
  • Security monitoring and response
  • Performance monitoring and optimization
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity

Implementing a turnkey automation system for a mission critical entity like data centers, water utilities, power plants, etc, results in tangible benefits for the company’s operations and reputation:

  • Improved efficiency: Automation eliminates human-borne efficiency issues like error and inconsistency, minimizing manual tasks and streamlining processes.
  • Improved security: Automation systems are built with robust security features that provide real-time visibility into security threats.
  • Increased reliability: Automation tech helps organizations to improve the reliability of their systems and processes by improved consistency, tracking, configuration, etc. This prevents security breaches and critical system failures that cause downtime.
  • Reduced costs: Automation reduces costs by eliminating manual labor, reducing errors, and improving the efficiency of their operations.

Automated systems for mission critical that are tailored to the sector and the specific facility are the way to reap the potential benefits of switching to or expanding automated systems in data centers and wastewater facilities. Control system integrators can design, build, stand up, and provide ongoing support for facility-wide automation systems. This keeps these facilities operating at their best, drastically cutting risks associated with security and system failure.

The key is choosing the right industrial automation company to partner with.

E Tech Group: Custom Automation Services for Data Centers & Wastewater Facilities

E Tech Group is a leading North American control system integrator providing unmatched automation services for mission critical facilities, including data centers and water utilities. We have deep domain expertise in this sector of industrial automation, which has provided us with an intimate understanding of the multitude of rigorous requirements endemic to mission critical automation. With clear communication and close collaboration, we help data center and wastewater clients ensure secure, reliable, compliant operations are a 24/7/365 reality.