How to bring more water to more people? Grundfos looks – naturally – to the cloud

When was your last sip of water? A few seconds ago? A few minutes? A few hours? You may not even recall.

But for 663 million people – nearly one in 10 – access to clean water is never a brief afterthought. Some risk their lives for it: Every 90 seconds on average, a child somewhere dies from a water-related disease because he or she drank dirty water.

Grundfos, a Danish company that develops water systems, seeks to give more people safe water through the cloud.

Each year, Grundfos produces 16 million pump units that move water. By connecting pumps to Microsoft Azure and the Azure IoT suite, the company built a tracking and maintenance solution that provides real-time communication between those pumps and its customers’ monitoring consoles.

“Pumps and pump parts are an important part of how you control and monitor water, whether that’s clean water or wastewater. We are in the entire water cycle,” says Jens Hartmann, CIO and group vice president at Grundfos Holding.

“We have a significant role to play in helping solve the world’s water problem,” Hartmann says.

That starts with preserving the precious liquid. Each day, some 45 billion liters of water are lost around the world due to pipes leaking or bursting, Grundfos says. Plugging those leaks would supply water to almost 200 million people each day.

Grundfos’ cloud-connected pumps search to identify when and where water is leaking, quickly isolating cracked or busted pipes. They also aim to perform predictive maintenance and fix wastewater pumps long before they fail, Hartmann says.

“When a wastewater pump breaks, water can spill out and rise up to several meters high. That’s a mess in terms of cleanup and repair – a much bigger job compared to dealing with that through preventive maintenance,” Hartmann says.

Through monitoring technology, Grundfos technicians also can react in real time to protect water sanitation in an emergency.

Imagine using predictive weather data to spot the path of massive rain events – then enabling the safe storage of water ahead of storms, Hartmann says. Doing so can help minimize flooding and disease.

“We have a saying at Grundfos: Be, Think, Innovate. This means: Be in what you’re doing, think about the impact, innovate for the future,” Hartmann says. “That saying has been there for years, embracing the company’s entire journey – including where we are going next.”