After speaking to several of our customers we have identified the top 5 challenges that one may face when collecting water quality data. This post will address challenge number 4. With the expertise of our very own product manager’s and technical support team, we are sharing how to deal with and/or avoid these typical frustrations and how new industry technology can help tackle these big issues.
Anyone dedicated to monitoring natural aquatic environments, such as rivers, lakes, wetlands, oceans, estuaries, and ground water should keep reading.
“Incomplete or inaccurate data wastes my time. I need systems to ensure I’m collecting the highest quality data.”
- Develop Quality Assurance Programs – With new technology quality assurance can become automated. The hardware itself can alert its user to potential problems before a long trip out into the field.
- Use Redundant Data Logging – Don’t lose data! Data can be stored both on the instrument and passed through via email or data logger to a web server to give you a back-up data file externally.
- Avoid Instrument Configuration Problems – Missteps with settings can cause data issues. Old DOS windows with multiple menus were cumbersome and confusing to setup. Now smart sensors store their own calibration data and automatically configure themselves when plugged into any port on the instrument.
- Use Smart Sensors – These sensors can raise a flag when a fault conditions have occurred during a deployment. The fault can be communicated in the software or as an LED light on the instrument. It is logged in memory and can be re-checked right before deployment to avoid any complications.
Challenge #4: “Shrinking budgets compromise my program’s goal. How can we be more efficient with what we have?”
Budgets and resources are being reduced. Unfortunately, the instrumentation and water quality monitoring equipment itself may not address this challenge. Instrumentation can be expensive, but newer technology has been able to introduce efficiencies into the water quality monitoring process. These efficiencies can add up, and ultimately reduce overall costs and quite possibly change how your SOPs are currently run.
Let’s talk about a few of these efficiencies:
These can be calibrated in the lab, and then installed in the field, without any need for a handheld or laptop at the field site. Instead of swapping out entire systems, now you simply need a spare set of sensors.
The cost of a smart sensor upfront may be more expensive than other sensors; however, replacing the consumable portion of the sensor (rather than an entire sensor) is much less expensive over a 5 year period.
Typically, if you have multiple pH sensors to calibrate, you have to calibrate each one separately, and many SOPs require you to wash the reagents down the drain after each calibration. With smart sensor technology, you can take 2-6 pH sensors, put them in a single instrument and calibrate all of the sensors together in a single pour of standard.
What are the advantages of calibrating multiple pH sensors together?
- You will quickly be able to identify if there is an error with your probe because they can be compared to one another.
- You will significantly reduce reagent usage.
- Calibration response time happens much more quickly with smart sensors – saving you time.
The key takeaway here is to remember that with newer technologies, the up-front cost may be higher than instruments you have used in the past, however, these newer technologies ultimately provide efficiencies that save you money and time over the course of ownership.
Next week, we will be bringing this series to an end with our final monitoring challenge.
Challenge #5 – “Training staff on processes, calibrations and maintenance is complex and time intensive”...Coming soon.
Additional Blog Posts of Interest:
Water Quality Monitoring Challenges | 1 of 5
Water Quality Monitoring Challenges | 2 of 5
Water Quality Monitoring Challenges | 3 of 5
A Breakthrough in Multiparameter Water Quality Sampling and Profiling