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 5. 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.
A quick recap of Challenge #4:
“Shrinking budgets compromise my program’s goal. How can we be more efficient with what we have?”
- Smart Sensors 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.
- Modular technology may be more expensive up-front; however, replacing the consumable portion of the sensor (rather than an entire sensor) is much less expensive over a 5 year period.
- Concurrent calibration allows for calibration of multiple sensors to take place at the same time. With smart sensor technology, you can take 2-6 sensors, put them in a single instrument and calibrate all of the sensors together in a single pour of standard.
Alright, let’s wrap this up with the final Challenge #5.
Challenge #5:“Training staff on processes, calibrations and maintenance is complex and time intensive.”
Let’s be honest here – water quality instrumentation is incredibly tricky to learn to use. This is apparent after seeing a product manual, most of which are well over 300 pages. Older technology often times takes years of hands-on experience to fully understand.
This is a huge problem with monitoring programs because it makes cross training employees incredibly challenging, and workforces become much more inflexible. Additionally, as more experienced employees change jobs or retire, the subtle tips and tricks they’ve learned with equipment over the years is lost, and fresh faces are expected to somehow fill that knowledge gap.
The great news is that in the past few years the significant learning curve for instrumentation has been addressed in many ways by some manufacturers. When you’re making an investment into monitoring equipment, look for products that have simple, intuitive software that can guide employees through difficult processes like sensor calibration. Also, ensure that the devices are “plug and play” to prevent any issues with configuration and set up, and look for software with built-in quality checks to make sure if an error does occur, that you’re warned before heading into the field. A great example of a product that has all of these features is the EXO product line.
We also suggest searching YouTube for the equipment you may be interested in. YSI has an extensive list of videos on YouTube to help you be successful in your water quality monitoring efforts, from product overviews to simple “how to” videos, and ordering guides. It’s good to know what resources are available to you after you make a purchase. If they’re offered, web tutorials are great assets that can help new employees get a head start on learning to use more advanced instruments.
If you don’t mind traveling, most manufacturers also offer free factory trainings where customers can get more hands-on and interact with application engineers and technical support staff. You can check out manufacturers’ websites or ask sales reps to see if they offer trainings before making a purchase.
If you are interested in learning more about YSI’s on-demand training program for water quality sondes check out EXO University. For a limited time you can register for our online training platform for FREE for 3 months! Use the promotional code “SONDE” during sign-up.
(Yes, you read that right.)
>>>Learn more here.
That’s a wrap on our mini-series – “Water Quality Monitoring Challenges.”
If you missed any of the challenges 1-4, you can review them by simply clicking on the links below. Happy Monitoring!
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
Water Quality Monitoring Challenges | 4 of 5