Kenya's multinational water and energy provider Davis & Shirtliff has partnered with German solar pump manufacturer, Lorentz to launch the "pump manager," a web platform which offers remote monitoring of solar pumping systems.
The pump manager will help curb the menace brought about by the malfunction of pumps which can have a devastating effect, leaving people without water for days or weeks especially in remote areas whose only source of water is a borehole.
Previously, in places like Wajir, the residents relied on solar powered pumps to replace the traditional generator driven alternatives, which due to their simplicity are intrinsically much more reliable but operating problems can still occur.
The new web platform will enable Davies & Shirtliff's technicians and customers to remotely monitor borehole and pump performance using the mobile phone network, thereby creating a chance of intervention before a system breakdown occurs. Through the system, various malfunctions such as tripping can be identified and corrected from Nairobi or indeed anywhere else via a remote pump configuration facility. Even when a site visit is necessary, technicians can be on site to correct a malfunction well before the community itself is aware of any problem.
The system monitoring hardware and software has been developed in-house by Lorentz and all system operation data is continuously sent via GPRS or cellular network to the data centre from where it is continuously analysed and stored. Being a cloud-based system, it is accessible to Davies & Shirtliff technicians and customers using laptops, tablets or smart phones.
Two such systems with remote monitoring are already in operation in Wajir County where thousands of people depend on a stable water supply for themselves and their livestock.
These systems are a result of a partnership between D&S and the BritishNGO Oxfam.
For Oxfam, as well as for other NGO's who have installed water pumping systems in remote areas, a real-time monitoring of system performance parameters such as voltage, amperage, flow rates, operating time, pump speed,cable dynamics, temperature, and more means that they can offer the communities a more reliable water supply and can avoid the risk of unnecessary and unexpected failures.
The system stores up to 10 years of data (at a 10 minute frequency) and allows for two-way communication to control and program pump speeds and operating times.