Simply turn on the tap and have a quick drink – nothing special for many people in the world. Not so for the residents of the rural Bobirwa Sub-district in Botswana’s Central District. Like many countries in Africa, Botswana has been battling water shortages for decades, a situation aggravated by climate change.
The Central District is a semi-arid region that is especially susceptible to periodic drought. At the same time, Botswana has a growing population and a strong economy, which together drive water consumption. In the past years, several dams have been built in Botswana to improve supply security – among them the Thune Dam.
Providing a comprehensive package
For the Thune Dam water treatment plant, the Siemens Solution Partner Moreflow, headquartered in Francistown, Botswana, supplied the automation and electrical equipment and services. The scope of supply included the medium and low-voltage electrical system as well as drive components and process instrumentation.
The company also designed and implemented a comprehensive package for plant automation and monitoring. One special aspect of this project was linking remote systems in the villages to the central WinCC system via UHF radio, which offers a cost-effective and low-maintenance connection, even in very remote locations.
Everything in view from a distance
“This way, the operators in the central control room can view the entire system, including the distributed pump stations and storage tanks,” says Mike Tearnan, director at Moreflow. “Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, digital solutions based on reliable remote connections have proven very beneficial, as the automation systems and processes can be monitored and controlled without staff having to be at the site.”
Numerous customer benefits with TIA
Aside from offering a broad range of options, the integrated solution also helps ensure a secure supply of spare parts over a plant's entire lifecycle. Changes are easy to implement, as all Siemens systems are engineered using the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal. “Seamless configuration of all devices from just one software platform is so simple that we can easily configure projects in forty percent less time. And if customers have last-minute changes, they can be implemented across all devices in the network with no trouble,” confirms Tearnan.
Moreover, the seamless integration of all components using the TIA Portal and the Profinet backbone ensures optimum data visibility. Reliable industry-grade components from Siemens are used on all levels to ensure high plant availability.
“Siemens provided digitalisation, flexibility, and customisation in deploying the technology, which was the right fit for the project,” says Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens South Africa. “Based on close cross-collaboration between all our divisions, several elements from the Siemens portfolio could be successfully integrated. The fact that it was all brought together by our TIA Portal makes it even better,”
So much more than water
Since starting operation, the plant has continued to provide not only a reliable source of drinking water, but also jobs for the local population. “With this project, we are also helping to develop local skills,” explains Tearnan. “Staff of the operating company, Water Utilities Corporation, received training at the Siemens Sitrain center in Midrand, South Africa, and in Botswana. Now they can utilise these skills to run the plant. This deep involvement of the people at the site is a significant factor for successful project implementation.”
Making digitalisation happen
With the treatment plant in full operation, Tearnan explains his plans to expand the services that Moreflow is able to offer to customers based upon the Siemens digitalisation portfolio: “We look forward to introducing the digital twin concept in future projects. This will allow us to do an upfront design confirmation to better mitigate project challenges, which will translate into significant cost savings and ensure that projects are completed on time. Moreover, we are looking at cloud connectivity to MindSphere, the IIoT-as-a-service solution from Siemens.”
These plans are well in line with Siemens’ digitalisation strategy. “Digitalisation provides important tools to network systems and to support novel approaches of data analysis in operation and maintenance,” explains Ralf Leinen, senior vice president of Siemens Digital Industries for Southern and Eastern Africa. M”With our comprehensive digitalisation and automation solutions, we are steadily increasing the adoption of innovative technologies and effectively addressing our customers’ challenges.”
Water 4.0 for Botswana
“The Thune Dam treatment plant demonstrates how we are able to support plant service and operation staff by moving from a fix-on-fail approach to a more proactive maintenance strategy,” concludes Tearnan. “Siemens has exactly the right products for connecting even very remote systems in harsh environments. So why not think big and make Water 4.0 happen here in Botswana?”
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