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Un til recently, effectively monitoring water quality and the overall facility meant operators had to be on site. But new controller technology is giving operators more freedom. That technology is called wireless Internet bidirectional control. With bidirectional control, you can access your controller remotely using a PC or laptop and the Internet — and do anything you would do on site. This is key because the majority of pool issues deal with calibration, set points, mixing times and proportionate feeding. The diagram below shows what these controllers can do, and how they can save you time and money.

In the near future, architects and designers will start mounting the flow meters, pressure gauges and valve movement indicators into one equipment room location. These new controllers are capable of transmitting video from the controller to your PC or laptop.

That can enable operators to see the inside of the equipment room (leaks on pump seals, leaks around filters and valves) or to manually backwash the filters by comparing the differential pressure on both sides of the filter. Video cameras also may be added for security at remote locations, to monitor a scheduled aquatics class or monitor potentially hazardous areas, such as the main drain area of the pool or spa.

The controller could send an alert when circulation is lost in a pool or spa. If an anti-entrapment device is installed, it could shut off circulation the moment it senses a change in flow or pressure. The controller could then send an alert directly to the aquatics director’s computer or sound an alert. A video camera could be accessed to see if someone is trapped in the pool. This allows the person receiving the alert to determine if there is a potential drowning and call for medical assistance immediately, which could save lives.

It’s also possible via radio frequency transmission to put a panic button linked to the controller close to lifeguards, to alert operators of potential problems. It would be possible to connect this system directly to an emergency facility nearby.

So is this technology here to stay?

Yes, and it is going to expand to include federal, state and local codes. Several states are reviewing this database management system for inclusion in future health codes. By the year 2010, many states could mandate it for commercial pools, which would allow federal, state and local health departments to monitor pools and spas. Soon this technology will be offered to city and state health departments for testing.

If all commercial pools were equipped with this management system, the quality of health and safety in pools could increase dramatically. Costs could be reduced and liability lessened.

The bottom line is that the aquatics director, facilities manager, pool operator, service company, technical service department and manufacturer now are in your equipment room without physically being there. And data available remotely is limited only by the sensors and equipment you install.