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In an interview with CIOApplications, Matt Rose, CEO & Co-Founder, Matt Maher Peterson, CTO, and Don Lanham, VP of Sales, APANA, tell the readers how their IoT solution of the same name can help clients effectively use water, reduce waste, and consequently improve their operations and overall business processes.
What are the factors that spurred the conception of APANA?
Rose: We started as a wastewater treatment business that built treatment plants for commercial centers without access to the municipal sewer. While automating, monitoring, and controlling these plants remotely, we noticed that these facilities used more water than the initial designs. We learned that water can tell the story of what’s going on within a building, its processes, and equipment. Consequently, we determined the normal and abnormal use of water, which marked the genesis of APANA. We learned that over 99 percent of most commercial and industrial buildings do not manage or keep track of water use when studying the market. We see an opportunity that can provide significant business value to the customer. In fact, we have reduced water consumption within our customer portfolio of 800 sites across four countries by 22 percent.
The next step was to scale down our solution to make it easier to connect hard-to-reach water meters like the ones within walls or inside equipment to the cloud. For that, we hired a team of ex-military UAV drone designers to help build a telemetry system for IoT to connect such meters to high integrity, high service level networks.
Don: In the past, our customers measured everything except water. They measure material yield, productivity, time loss accidents, and many other things. Our solution from the genesis was able to report, measure, and allow commercial and industrial businesses to manage their water consumption better. As a result, APANA was able to reduce a client’s production cost by at least 22 percent and its efficient water monitoring increased the life of many of their equipments that needed water for their operation.
What are some of the data points that your clients can glean from proper analysis of the water they are using or wasting for the matter? How does APANA help in the investigation?
Don: Our customers now view water efficiency and water metrics as a leading indicator of overall performance. So, if you’re sloppy with water, you’re careless with other parts of the business. The key metric they use for water analysis is tying the number of gallons of water used to the unit of the finished product produced. That way, if there are five areas in a production line, they can use APANA to check the water consumption per area easily.
Peterson: Many businesses have cooling towers for refrigeration and building cooling purposes. Those use a ton of water and are very expensive to repair and even more expensive to replace. We’re able to help our clients maintain and operate them efficiently. APANA also works for Water Softeners, Heaters, RO Systems, Filtering Systems, and any other equipment that consider water as an essential part of their function.
How does the technology work? How do you implement it on your client’s infrastructure?
Rose: At a higher level, we set the measurement system for the water infrastructure within a client company by asking them targeted questions. The questions can range from the need for water outside the site to the requirement of monitoring the cooling equipment. We then break the large area into blocks to pick the correct measuring points. We then connect all of them to the cloud.
If you’re sloppy with water, you’re sloppy with other parts of your business
To connect the meters to the cloud, we use low-power WAN technologies like Semtech’s LoRa radios to connect the endpoints to the gateway. Then, that gateway collects the data from the endpoints and backhauls it to the cloud.
In the cloud, we analyze the data, and continuously monitor it to look for abnormal behavior based on water patterns, threshold settings, etc.
After analyzing the data, do you provide any reports to the clients? If yes, how can they access it?
Rose: First and foremost, APANA looks for waste anomalies in real-time, and once detected, it sends an alert to the customer. What we do differently from our peers is that with the alert, APANA will give a checklist of items to our clients – we call it First-Look Guidance – which they can use to resolve the waste event.
Don: We also have a platform complete with BI dashboards that our clients can log into and look at their water use in real-time and over different periods of time for any areas of the operations that are monitored by APANA. The customer can also create automated reports in case they want to have a weekly summary by day or by shift. We also conduct monthly or quarterly business reviews to discuss the data and reports and share best practices and learnings from our portfolio in an effort to improve the operational water-use efficiencies of our customers.
Peterson: Our solution does not touch our customers’ IT infrastructure. We use our own means for collecting data and backhaul it over our private cellular network to get the data out of the customer site / facility. This alleviates most of our customers’ security concerns.
Where do you envision the organization moving ahead in the next 12-18 months?
Rose: We are one of the pioneers of Water Efficiency as a Service and want to be the leaders in the space. We found that as of 2021, 99 percent of businesses are not tracking water. They view it as an uncontrollable expense. We argue that it is controllable, and leading-edge companies and companies that will be successful in the future will measure their usage using APANA to enhance their business performance and sustainability.
Peterson: The water infrastructures in the United States are poor, water demand is high, water scarcity is high. All things combined put pressure on organizations around water management. We think that in the next 5-10 years, 90 percent of companies will start measuring and conserving water, and we want to be at the very forefront of that initiative.