How HOTOVO's Software Is Helping to Protect our Beautiful Planet
In our previous blog post, we told you about our imminent trip to Dubai for Expo 2020, where we're going to be showcasing the incredible wastewater treatment project that we've been involved in with our client, WT:R Europe.
This week, we want to tell you all about that project…
From where it started, to how we approached it, and the complex solution we ultimately developed.
We're proud of all the work we do at HOTOVO, but we're especially proud of this one – not only because it was one of the more complex and challenging projects we've taken on, but because we've helped create a sustainable solution for protecting our beautiful planet.
From the first conversation we had with this client, right through to the implementation of the final product in live sites around the world, this project has been a real ride!
Are you ready to find out all about it?
Who is WT:R Europe?
WT:R Europe is an ambitious and progressive company within the field of sustainable wastewater treatment systems (WWTS).
WT:R has joint Slovak-Chinese management, and a significant presence in China – meaning this is a company with a truly multicultural perspective.
For over 30 years, WT:R have been developing, fine-tuning and improving their wastewater-treatment technology, with the aim of creating a truly sustainable solution to purifying and recycling wastewater – and helping to relieve one of our planet's greatest challenges.
And they have succeeded!
Their technology is now patented, and they have created fully customizable wastewater treatment plant designs that mean their solution can be adapted to different needs and uses in pretty much any location across the world.
But – they wanted to go one step further.
In order to make their solution truly accessible to those that need it most, they needed to ensure it would be both easy and cost-effective to run. And this is where we came in.
“Can you create software to control, run and maintain a wastewater treatment system?”
— That was the initial challenging question WT:R brought to our table.
And despite the fact that it was an industry we'd never worked in and knew very little about, we knew immediately that we wanted to do it.
We knew it would be a challenge, but we also knew we could approach it in the same way that we approach every job. By starting at the very beginning, and methodically working our way through. And that's exactly what we did.
Our projects always start the same way: discovery!
The start of any project involves closing the gap between our client's knowledge and our own – to ensure we understand all the finer details of the project at hand, and to ensure we both have clear and defined expectations of what our collaboration will involve.
In the case of this project, that involved a lot of research and learning – including refreshing our knowledge of chemistry, physics, artificial intelligence, automation and electrical engineering…!
It also involved a trip to China for our Devs team – to visit some of the client's older water treatment plants, to learn about the treatment process, and to meet as many of the WT:R team and stakeholders as possible.
…and of course, the team took advantage of this amazing opportunity and had some fun – including an amazing visit to the Great Wall of China! 🙂
To say this project was challenging is an understatement. But there's no denying it's also been one of the most interesting, exciting and fulfilling projects we've worked on.
Developing our greenfield solution…
Once we understood the full scope of WT:R's product and what they needed in terms of software that would elevate it to another level, we were able to start doing what we do best: developing a solution.
WT:R needed something that could control, monitor, manage and regulate their treatment plants…
And they needed it to make their plans cost-effective to run, easy to manage, and require minimal onsite staffing.
We had the opportunity to develop this solution from the ground up, including all decisions regarding architecture, design and development.
Our solution needed to include hardware, software, security considerations and user interfaces, and be capable of controlling, monitoring and regulating wastewater treatment plants with a capacity of up to 100,000 m3 of water per day.
Here's what our development ultimately included:
- Both on- and off-site control of each treatment plant, with both online and offline access – via a modern on-site desktop application, and remote control via web application.
- System communications protected by Hardware Security Modules (HSM).
- Detailed 3D visualization of each plant, with real-time streaming.
- Real-time regulation of each treatment plant, including fuzzy, manual, scheduled and maintenance regulation options.
- AI Fuzzy Regulators to drive hundreds of each plant's elements. The system is able to automatically change regulation parameters and adapt to the quality of the water.
- Scheduled regulation, which allows for customized operations based on seasonality and other time- or date-based factors.
- Regulation based on electricity rates – a big step towards managing total running costs.
- Automatic failover integration.
- In-built maintenance modes.
- Real-time measurements and automatic detailed reporting functions integrated into the system software.
- Customizable user and role management.
- Multi-station management, via the online web application.
The complexity of such a project has of course required a wide range of different technologies.
Here are the main technologies we used:
- Frontend: React + Redux, Material UI, Webpack, Leaflet, ChartJS, Electron
- Backend: Microservice Profile (Quarkus) - Java EE, Hibernate, PostgreSQL, RabbitMQ, Gradle, MapStruct, RestEasy, jFuzzyLogic
- IoT: C++, OPC (Open62541), Simatic, Pistache, MQTT, ZMQ, HSM (Yubikey)
- Hardware: Revolution Pi, Simatic
- Automatic Deployment: Aptly (apt repository), Nginx, PostgreSQL, LXC containers, Bitbucket CI (Pipelines), Ansible, Bash
And it required quite a team – here's the team from HOTOVO that was involved in bringing this project to life…
- 1 Product Owner
- 1 Project Manager
- 2 Technical solution architects
- 2 Back-end developers
- 1 Front-end developer
- 1 UI / UX designer
From start to finish, from discovery to completion, it took us 1.5 years to create our greenfield solution. And we continue to work together, constantly building upon and enhancing our system.
At HOTOVO we follow an Agile methodology, meaning that the scope and details of a project can be adapted, adjusted and built upon as needed.
Especially for a project of this size and nature, we see it as the only sensible approach.
So while we had devised and agreed the main scope of our solution at the outset, we then adapted and improved certain aspects as we progressed – as and when we realized alternative or additional tools, technology or functionality would be even more beneficial. And both we, and WT:R Europe, are pretty pleased with the final result 🙂
Once we'd developed our tech solution for WT:R's patented wastewater treatment solutions, it was time for WT:R to start implementing it in real-life sites.
Since 2020, around 20 new WT:R treatment plants have been built with this new technology, representing about 10% of their total number of plants worldwide.
And all future plants will automatically benefit from this new technology.
Our development is continuous, too. We're constantly working on new features, adjustments, and other ways we can improve our software solution even more. This is an ongoing collaboration, and we’re on it!
WT:R's plants are currently located in various sites across China and Europe. And the goal is for many, many more to be built – we hope, across the whole world!
WT:R and HOTOVO's combined solutions mean that these wastewater treatment plants are suited to sites large and small, and in cities as well as remote locations.
And thanks to our software, they can be controlled and maintained at relatively low costs – making them a more accessible solution than many traditional treatment plants.
Protecting Mother Earth is one of our core values at HOTOVO. We want to be involved in meaningful projects that help people and nature.
And this project, alongside WT:R Europe, has been exactly that – and a real honor for us to be a part of.
We're really proud of our involvement in this project. And we can't wait to get to Dubai's Expo 2020 so we can start spreading the word even more!
So – what do you think? 🙂 Do you have any questions for us? Do you want to know more? Or do you have an exciting project of your own that needs unique software solutions to elevate it to the next level?
Get in touch! We'd love to hear from you 🙂
Map of current sites worldwide in which WT:R’s unique, sustainable wastewater treatment plants are in place.