By Mark V Wiley, Chief Editor, Water Online Advantage
We are in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution and its combining digital information technology (IT) with industrial manufacturing operations (OT). The water and wastewater industry is beginning to see the benefits of the IT/OT convergence and engineering consultancies are rapidly moving beyond environmental design work into the burgeoning space of IT/OT design and implementation.
The Convergence of IT and OT
When properly designed and implemented, the convergence of informational and operational technologies can merge the industrial, technical, and business processes of municipalities to create an interconnected environment for greater efficiencies, improved processes, better customer service, and a more profitable bottom line.
Ahead-of-the-curve engineering firms are extending their services to water and wastewater utilities and developing and deploying a range of IoT devices that can communicate over standard networks, allowing them to exchange operational data with digital technologies. The digital solutions provide a real-time warning which then allows for a real-time OT solution. This has greatly narrowed the time lag between problem discovery and problem correction in the water and wastewater industry. And so, an engineering firm’s ability to capture and analyze system performance data is being coupled with and leading to the environmental design work they’ve historically performed.
Simply put, an IT/OT convergence enables data and its analysis to be easily passed between the digital solution and the physical systems, thereby allowing for:
- Autonomous operations for more direct control
- More complete monitoring for enhanced accuracy
- Easier access and analysis of data in real time, from anywhere
- A more efficient work environment including improved decision-making
- Sharing costs over development, operations, and maintenance
- Reduced operational downtime due to predictive maintenance
- More efficient energy and resource usage and management
- Improved compliance with regulatory standards
Some Examples of IoT in the Water/Wastewater Industry
Seeq, who has presented several times at Water Online’s Virtual Water Expo, is a good example. In 2022 they did something uniquely different — their presentation was given by a Carollo engineer. The presentation concept was truly informative and insightful because it came from an engineering firm that is actually utilizing Seeq’s software in their design work.
The pipeline assessment firm Trinnex, a spinoff of CDM Smith, is doing it too. They’ve developed a digital software that allows utilities to identify if/when lead leaches into piping systems among other applications. The real time detection allows for real-time correction.
Arcadis is yet another engineering firm expanding their business model into IT and OT. They recently showcased their new data-driven digital solution “Arcadis Gen” at ACE22.
IoT is a Game Changer
Blending IT with OT is a game changer that allows utilities or municipalities to see relevant data and analyze it before plugging in a digital solution to solve a problem. It’s a smart business move, especially for those engineering firms who are ahead of the curve.
To become a stand-out consultancy in the new IoT space, you must establish yourself as a thought leader. This is best done by creating smartly positioned content that is placed in front of your intended audience. Content marketing is simply the best long-term approach because it takes time to convince customers who think of you as an environmental engineering consultancy to a firm that is now a fully functioning and capable of helping utilities navigate through a digital transformation.
Customers must be convinced that they don’t need to hire two firms to solve their problem; one can provide both the digital tools and the traditional design work to provide a better all-round solution and that one is you.
The best way for you as an engineering firm to attract the connection with software suppliers you may need to collaborate with is the same. Create compelling and consistent content and get that content in front of your intended audience.
This sets you up as a thought leader in the space and provides the conversation starter with software suppliers. Once the connection is made, the leading digital solution developers will work with you and spread your name. They recognize a great connection and partnering with an engineering firm allows them to get their software solution into more utilities. That is a win-win situation.
Not sure how to write or position compelling content or how and where place it in front of the right audience?
We Can Help
At Water Online, we position content portfolios and capture our readers’ engagement across all your subject matter experts’ content, from articles to webinars to interviews. In this way, a presentation delivered by an engineer at a local event in Wisconsin can resonate and engage a utility professional in Florida.
This approach snowballs. As your content is shared online, it reaches a wider audience and births new opportunities for more presentations, conversations, and pitches.