The effective ‘manufacturing’ of water

We don’t think of water that something we manufacture. Water is something that’s always there -- coming out of our taps, providing beauty through magnificent fountains, or simply covering two-thirds of the Earth Bill Wood of Orlando’s Iron Bridge Regional water reclamation facility sees the process of water in a different way, and one quote from this month’s cover story ...

By Jack Smith, Editor May 1, 2009

We don’t think of water that something we manufacture. Water is something that’s always there — coming out of our taps, providing beauty through magnificent fountains, or simply covering two-thirds of the Earth

Bill Wood of Orlando’s Iron Bridge Regional water reclamation facility sees the process of water in a different way, and one quote from this month’s cover story on the process of purifying Orlando’s wastewater stands out. He held up a glass of water and said, “This is our finished product.”

How is that different from anything else we talk about in terms of automation? Not much. The integrated automation system used at Iron Bridge is the same kind that delivers discrete solutions and batch solutions, as our other articles this month also note. The issues faced at iron Bridge are no different than most manufacturers — including, as Wood also notes, the issue of manpower. “It’s expensive and tough to find experienced and qualified people in this business. Automation has solved that issue for us,” he said.

Water isn’t something we manufacture in the same way we make a car or a pharmaceutical product or the many other things manufacturers deliver to the marketplace. But every one of those products, and processes, depends on water. The technology behind making water available and safe is every bit as important to understand. It gives us insight into the ways we can use automation to manage systems.

With the importance automation plays in efforts to make manufacturing more sustainable, perhaps it’s good to take a look at a product that, in the end, sustains us all.