Thanks to automation and electrical engineering from Siemens Solution Partner Moreflow, residents in rural areas of Botswana have access to safe and clean drinking water.

Botswana (like many African countries) has been battling with water shortages for decades – a situation aggravated by climate change. Furthermore, Botswana has a growing population and a strong economy, which together drive water consumption.

Botswana’s Central District is a semi-arid region that is especially susceptible to periodic drought. The community largely relies heavily on borehole wells, which are inadequate.

During the past few years, several dams have been built in Botswana to improve supply security – among them the Thune Dam. The dam catches the water of the Thune River upstream of its confluence with the Motloutse River and serves as a reservoir for the water treatment plant located directly below the dam.

Thune water treatment plant

Called the Thune Dam water treatment plant, the facility supplies 11 million litres of water every day to several villages in the Bobirwa area (in the Central District), and irrigation water to an agricultural project near Mathathane. Water is delivered to the villages of Bobonong, Motlhabaneng, Mathathane, Tsetsebjwe, Mabolwe, Semolale, Gobojango, Lepokole and Molalatau. The plant also has tanks for bulk water storage before treated water is transferred via pipelines to the distributed storage tanks in the area’s villages.

Moreflow 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 the linking of 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. With one unified software platform based on native web technologies, WinCC Unified is scalable, from a single-user system to complex, distributed applications.

Remote monitoring

According to Mike Tearnan, director at Moreflow, 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. “This way, the operators in the central control room can view the entire system, including the distributed pump stations and storage tanks.”

Integrated solution

All Siemens systems are engineered using the Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal. This is an open-system architecture that has been enabling the seamless interaction of all automation components, the software involved, and higher-level systems and services since 1996.

Hardware, software and services merge seamlessly, while information flows both horizontally and vertically. New technologies are integrated in TIA step by step. The result is real added value across all industries – regardless of the phase of automation or to what degree of digitalisation the company is located.

“The seamless configuration of all devices from just one software platform is so simple that we can easily configure projects in 40% less time. And if customers have last-minute changes, these can be implemented across all devices in the network with no trouble,”confirms Tearnan.

“Furthermore, the integrated solution from Siemens also helps to ensure a secure supply of spare parts over the plant’s lifetime. The pumps and drives that are used reduce stress on the motors and allow for increased pump speed to match the rising demand for water to more villages. Reliable, industry-grade components from Siemens are used on all levels to ensure high plant availability,” adds Tearnan.

Moreover, the seamless integration of all components using the TIA Portal and the Profinet backbone ensures optimum data visibility. Profinet is an industrial Ethernet standard for automation that provides support at the field level in creating integrated processes with real-time communication and connection to the cloud.

More than just 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. Developing skills on-site was a significant part of the project. “With this project, we are also helping to develop local skills. Staff of the operating company – Water Utilities Corporation – received training at the Siemens Sitrain centre 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,” explains Tearnan.

With the treatment plant in full operation, Tearnan already has 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. We are also looking at cloud connectivity to MindSphere, the IIoT-as-a-service solution from Siemens.

“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 an even more proactive maintenance strategy. Siemens has just the right products for connecting even very remote systems in harsh environments,” says Tearnan. “So why not think big and make Water 4.0 happen here in Botswana?”

Moreflow factbox

• Established 2008

• Approved partner of Siemens Industry

• Headquartered in Francis Town, Botswana

• 100% owned by Botswana citizen (Mrs Goitse Molokwe)

• Members from the Moreflow team have attended an eight-month intensive training course at Siemens South Africa

• Offer a range of products: process instrumentation, process automation, motors, condition monitoring, electrical drives, switchgear, industrial networks, mechanical drives

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