Building containing the Ruhrverband’s headquarters in Essen from the outside

Smart sensors enhance operating reliability

In one of Europe’s largest conurbations, the Ruhr Region, the Ruhrverband makes sure that enormous quantities of waste water are transferred and treated reliably. As part of this process, 125 pumping stations pump the waste water to a total of 63 waste water treatment plants. For a long time, the pumps used to be functionally tested by hand, with service personnel having to travel long distances to do so. For that reason, the Ruhrverband looked for an automated solution together with KSB.

The project: Keeping a constant eye on pumps

As a result of the high population density and the large number of commercial and industrial enterprises, the Ruhr Region’s water consumption and therefore volume of waste water per unit area is about seven times higher than average in the Federal Republic. This poses major challenges for the water management infrastructure and leads, above all, to a large service effort in connection with pumping station maintenance. However, KSB has developed a tool that enables all of the pumps to be monitored from one central location.

The customer: Ruhrverband

For over 100 years, the Ruhrverband and its water management infrastructure have been guaranteeing that the Ruhr River, with its relatively small volume of water, can supply the water needed by the entire region. For this purpose, within the river’s catchment area of 4478 square kilometres, the water management association operates more than 800 water management installations, including eight reservoirs and five impounded lakes. The Ruhrverband provides 63 plants with 125 pumping stations for waste water transfer and treatment.

Building containing Fröndenberg Pumping Station from the outside

One of 125 pumping stations: Fröndenberg Pumping Station

The challenge: Rendering service trips unnecessary

Prematurely worn bearings or pumps clogged with solids after a storm: faults of this kind could only be identified in the past by means of a local diagnosis by hand or from a general fault alarm. What was needed was a solution that would enable precise diagnoses to be made from a remote location and would render preventive service trips unnecessary.

The solution: Detailed remote diagnostics

The Ruhrverband and KSB have been working together as partners for decades. Ideas and suggestions for optimisation coming from the customer enable KSB to continuously adapt its products and services to the actual needs of its customers and to prepare them early on to meet future requirements.

In the case presented here, KSB recognised the advantages that would be gained by the Ruhrverband if the service trips could be dispensed with. Also, remote monitoring of all of the pumps can deliver much more precise fault analyses than are possible with standard warning devices. This enables the Ruhrverband’s service engineers to concentrate on their actual maintenance work instead of spending unnecessary time on inspection trips.

KSB suggested that their intelligent KSB Guard monitoring tool be deployed for monitoring the pumps. This had already succeeded in proving its usefulness for other customers. For this purpose, KSB gave the Department for Maintenance Management of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (IME) at the Ruhrverband a few KSB Guard systems for a practical trial. The sensor unit and the dedicated gateway can be installed by the customer without any prior knowledge and with little effort - even on pumps from other manufacturers. Equipment set-up, commissioning and subsequent monitoring are carried out with an easy-to-use smartphone app or a PC.

Sewatec pumps, pipes and valves in the pump house of Fröndenberg Pumping Station

Sewatec pumps in the pump house of Fröndenberg Pumping Station

The best thing about it is that the operation of all pumps equipped with KSB Guard can be monitored at a single glance and that potential irregularities are reported before any malfunction can occur. In this way, major damage and downtime can be reliably avoided. Registered users can access all pump status data (e.g. temperature, vibration and load condition) around the clock via a web portal and are immediately notified by e-mail or by a push message on their smartphone if any deviations occur. 

The system operator benefits from predictable and less frequent downtime, better maintenance strategies and significantly reduced operating costs for a relatively modest investment. In addition to this, the security concept of the dedicated KSB Cloud and all hardware components guarantees a security standard that is on a par with that of online banking.

As of December 2020, the Ruhrverband has already successfully placed 33 of the 49 KSB Guard units supplied to them in operation, with the other sensors being integrated successively into the work flow. Around-the-clock monitoring is not necessary for each of the just under 900 KSB pumps deployed altogether by the Ruhrverband – most of the pumps do their jobs for many years without any interruption. But even where external factors cause a pump to require servicing earlier than planned, operators can always rely on KSB Guard to point this out to them in good time.

KSB Guard mounted on a Sewatec pump

KSB Guard on a Sewatec pump

Figures I Data I Facts

Plant: Pumping stations
End user: Ruhrverband
Project data: 49 KSB Guard units

Products used