Ninety-eight units in an apartment building in Toledo have been left without water recently. What started as a mere loss in pressure, following a power loss, has become a complete loss of water in the building. An investigation by the local health department pointed to a transformer than had blown and damaged the buildings main water pump in the process.
From reading the report, on NBC 24, it would appear that the pumps that were being fed electricity from the transformers experienced a low voltage situation. The low voltage could have been enough to permanently damage the pumps, resulting in the initial loss in pressure, and then the total collapse of the water system.
The booster pumps may not have been properly protected via a motor controller, or a properly sized breaker. It would have been very easy to identify the problem, and to have implement controls to protect the pumps, if the incident had been captured through data collection.
Building Management Systems (BMS) provide real time data by trending changes in direct input devices like motor controls, or by trending analog input devices like temperature controllers. The folks over at M-Systems produce a number of products that can be wired into any system. These communicate changes in input, which in turn can produce a trend analysis of the system. In instances like the one above, it could have been used to gauge the incoming voltage to the unit. When the voltage fell below the acceptable level, alerts could have been set so precautions might have been implemented. It might also have indicated electrical breaker issues, or even motor controller issues.
Projects like this water pump repair can be very costly to property owners. Not only the actual repairs, but also the rent negotiations that will likely take place as a result of tenants being left without water for an extended period of time. The right tools might have prevented it completely.