One of the main ideas behind the Schneider Electric Xperience Efficiency 2013 event is to showcase the many different business units within Schneider and how they often work together to solve energy and environmental problems.
As an example, at the recent event in Washington, D.C., I talked with Edwin Newell, who is Director of the Schneider Electric Water Wastewater Competency Center, and Mark Leinmiller, Segment Manager for the Center. The Center has been in existence about 7 years and it intended to be a place where customers can go for advice and support when they’re dealing with major water or wastewater projects, Newell says. It serves various players in the water value chain, from consulting engineers and systems integrators to water process OEMs and municipalities.
And that doesn’t mean just big cities, as Leinmiller points out. Smaller municipalities often need help in maintaining deteriorating assets and aging infrastructure. “We have a lot of solutions to help them overcome some financial constraints,” he says.
Take the Smart Water initiative, which is intended to address the increasing demand for water in cities as they grow and expand. One example of how the Smart Water folks address the issue is by preventing leaks.
“Around 20% of all the water produced by our cities and municipalities is leaked and does not get to where it needs to go,” Newell says. That means cities and towns are taking on the costs associated with producing and treating all that water, without ever being able to sell it to customers. “We have technology that enables you to find those leaks and fix them before they become catastrophic failures,” he says.
That brought to mind a major water main break that happened in 2010 outside Boston, near where I live. Residents of some 30 cities and towns downstream from the break had to boil their drinking water for days after. Is that the kind of thing Schneider can help prevent, I asked?
“Absolutely, we can help on the predictive side of that,” Leinmiller says. “Also, in the event of a catastrophic failure like that, we have software that does hydraulic modeling that would show what valve to shut off to minimize the amount of water loss and minimize the amount of damage and downtime.”
It also struck me that there might be some synergy between the Water Wastewater Competency Center and Schneider’s Data Center business, given data centers are such big users of water. While that’s true, it turns out the synergies don’t end there.
Newell pointed out that many water treatment plants now use ultraviolet lights to kill bacteria. “Those lights can never go off and never blink, so you see a great need there for UPSs and backup power,” he said, technologies that are of course common in data centers.
What’s more, smart water systems collect lots of data. “Every time you turn on a valve or a pump, there’s data being generated,” Leinmiller says. It all has to get collected, analyzed and eventually delivered to the right people at the right time to enable them to make “good, informed decisions.” It takes data centers to get that job done.
Xperience Efficiency 2013 has completed its U.S. run in Washington, D.C. and Dallas. It now moves on to cities including Beijing, Bogotá, Moscow, São Paulo, Suzhou and Shenzhen.