ATI and Caption Data have worked together since 2008, initially with Caption Data providing telemetry for Chlorine monitoring systems used in remote locations throughout the UK. The range of applications and volume of installations has increased over the years, with the latest application being ATI’s disruptive technology for Turbidity monitoring, with onboard robust and miniaturized wireless telemetry units by Caption Data.
Analytical Technology was founded in Pennsylvania in the early 1990s by two of North America’s leading experts in water quality monitoring and gas detection. This, still privately owned, company is deeply rooted in the principle of developing and manufacturing sensors that will protect lives, improve process control or protect the environment. A guiding belief is that these monitors should be simple to operate and inexpensive to own and operate.
A Groundbreaking New Portable Turbidity Monitor
A groundbreaking new portable turbidity monitor has been developed by Analytical Technology (Europe), with the help of PODDS and the UK water industry, which offers continuous remote monitoring of a network/DMA to alarm for if a level of discoloration is seen.
NephNet is the first battery-powered, portable turbidity monitor that gives the same performance as the more traditional fixed monitor, with no compromise on accuracy at low levels.
How Was Data Being Collected from the NephNet?
Before ATI partnered with Caption Data the data was being collected via a USB data logger, this provided excellent levels of granularity in terms of sampling time and accuracy however the data had to be retrieved manually, which would cause issues as the data could show alarms that were missed due to the slow reaction of analysis.
Within a water network, hundreds of turbidity monitors could be deployed. Traditionally that would mean a technician would have to visit each one to collect data.
What the Water Companies Really Wanted In Addition To This?
There are a few main application areas for this type of measurement:
It is our philosophy at Caption Data to try and get equipment into the real world as soon as possible during the development phase for live testing and this application was no exception.
Phase I – A full investigation was undertaken to understand and focus on the hardware end of the system
In conjunction with ATI engineers, the end users (Water Companies and their contractors) and Caption Data engineers started to deploy units into live field-based locations within weeks of the first meeting with ATI.
What Did We Learn from Phase I Field-Based Trials and What Did We Do?
Physical Elements: The deployment sites (under hydrant covers) are extremely aggressive locations. Water ingress was a serious issue to begin with. A series of developments with higher IP-rated enclosures, and different cabling connections has overcome this issue.
Transmission: The strength of GSM signals was generally very low and we worked through different techniques and hardware to give the system every chance of sending data. We leveraged our real-time SIM diagnostic capabilities to monitor and understand the GSM network behavior, and use optimized SIM cards and antennae.
Power: Clearly the longer the unit lasts in the field the better it is for all concerned. Based upon Phase I testing we developed more intelligent on-board processing and storage of data. This minimized the need to transmit when there was simply no need to (whilst retaining data).
User installation experience: We optimized the way in which a system could be set up in the field. Clearly, due to the inhospitable nature of the locations, we needed to make the setup as robust as possible. We used our QR code quick access system and commissioning text feature to make this process as robust as possible.
CDLSmartHub: With the continual end-user customer exposure we have during this process, we continually absorb and ask for feedback on how to present the information making the user interface as useful as possible and the user experience, at all levels, one that stimulates the utilization of the system. We have as a result tailored mapping, alarming, alarm acknowledgment, dynamic graphing, and dashboard features. This is a regular part of the “OEM journey” with Caption Data. For ATI as with many customers, has agreed to work in partnership, Caption Data were often involved in multiparty meetings with ATI clients, to help understand their issues and deal with any telemetry, data, and other challenges.
At any time our customers are encouraged to hit the ‘feedback’ button on the CDLSmartHub to assist in making the SmartHub a ‘value adding’ experience.
Phase I Summary
So What is Phase 2 Looking Like?
Whilst Caption Data and ATI are delighted with the results from Phase I and the fact it is a commercially robust product there are still improvements we are implementing.
Conclusion So Far:
What the Customers Are Saying
Tristen Preger – Sales Manager Utilities
ATi manufactures water and gas instrumentation. Telemetry is not considered a strength of our remit. With an already established relationship with Caption Data, we believed that we had the correct company to work with and deliver what was required. After only a short period of time, the NephNet had evolved into a turbidity ‘logger’ as well as a sensor. Caption Data were proactive in establishing needs from the water industry and turning them into a practical, finished solution that best suits what was required.
We engaged Caption Data to specifically collaborate on remote monitoring of the NephNet over 12 months ago and have enjoyed a very successful relationship with them on this unique innovation.
It was clear at an early stage the market required telemetry for the NephNet turbidity monitoring system and we needed to act quickly to gain traction as quickly as possible.
Caption Data assisted us in integrating the telemetry system seamlessly, quickly, and easily into our existing system.
Caption Data also was very proactive and supportive with joint sales presentations across the UK and we were happy to promote this collaboration.
Product development support is also a key part of our successful relationship, many joint customer visits, and workshop sessions were attended to help ‘fully understand’ exactly what the end customer required.
We look forward to collaborating and partnering with Caption Data for many years to come.