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Next generation alarm management at Waterschap Zuiderzeeland

The Zuiderzeeland Water Board is the water manager in the Netherlands for Flevoland and a small part of Friesland and Overijssel. The organisation manages all the dikes, waterways, pumping stations and water purification plants in this area. This ensures safety and sufficient clean water.

In a world where it is impossible to imagine the streets without smartphones, it is surprising that many organisations still use traditional techniques such as paging and text messaging for critical alerts. The Zuiderzeeland Water Board wanted to change this and decided to modernise the alarm management for the management and purification technicians and raise it to a higher level with IQ Messenger software. Leslie Postema and Emiel Mullink, both responsible for technical automation at the Zuiderzeeland Regional Water Board, called on Koning & Hartman for the job.

The risks of paging and text messaging

Before the implementation of IQ Messenger, the Zuiderzeeland Water Board worked with all kinds of local systems. In addition to the alarm server, there were 300 small systems managed throughout Flevoland. Seven polder pumping stations, five treatment plants and 90 sewage pumping stations, together with the regional offices, make up Flevoland's water management. To monitor and control the process, the various locations use SCADA, which generates a large proportion of the alarms. Technicians responsible for the management and purification of the water boards are on duty 24/7 and receive these alarms. Urgent alarms go via a serial connection to a local modem, after which they are sent to an old pager. Postema: "After the pager, we switched to SMS. Many employees found this not reliable enough. The messages do not always arrive; you have no control over them. That's why we went looking for a solution where people could at least accept/refuse to guarantee alarm follow-up."

Alarm differentiation for fewer alarms and better follow-up

The IQ Messenger SmartApp offers the possibility to accept or refuse an alarm. Alarm follow-up is thus guaranteed, you can set various alarm priorities, log in by employee name and analyse camera images and work descriptions accompanying the alarm message. The kind of reports that come in to the Zuiderzeeland Water Board are very diverse: water levels that are too high or too low, temperature and water quality, but also malfunctions or a network that is down.

Mullink: "The alarms are as broad as the process is. There are many components in each process; at a purification plant there are in fact 5000 different alarms. That is why the treatment plants also differentiate between 'urgent' and 'non-urgent' alarms. There are enough alarms that only require some adjustments and that don't have major consequences.

A number of alarms are, of course, urgent. Mullink explains: "High water in a residential area is an urgent alarm. You don't want the sewage running down the street. High or low water is also important for arable farming. The employees who monitor these alarms, technical maintenance employees, are on duty from Monday to Monday. Postema says: "Normally, they sleep during the night, but if a system or network is down, it is so urgent that they have to get into their cars."

A smart solution for everyone

The Zuiderzeeland Water Board decided to test the IQ Messenger SmartApp in addition to the pager and SMS. Why? Mullink explains: "We are very ambitious and always looking for the latest technology for process optimisation. This from the point of view that we want to get rid of old technology." Postema adds: "The reason we tested in parallel is because various employees have different preferences. Some of the employees indicated that they no longer wanted to carry a pager because they always have a smartphone in their pocket. But text messaging was not the most ideal solution either, because a group of employees found it unreliable. In the event of an urgent gas alarm, there is a risk that the text message will not be received. So we went in search of smart alarm software. IQ Messenger is the solution for what we need. In the future, when we receive alerts from multiple areas, we want data-driven control to understand which alerts we are receiving per area. Another idea is to link a central collection of faults to IQ Messenger."

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Are you also looking for a smart solution or advice for your industrial installations? Koning & Hartman is specialised in projects for Industry & Manufacturing. We advise, supply and implement solutions that offer connectivity and insight into your installations. 

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