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Author's profile photo Nagaraja Bhat

Reverse Osmosis Monitoring & Optimization (ROMO): SAP HANA IoT Solution for Water Treatment

About Co-Innovation Partner:

Birlasoft is a Global IT Services provider and part of the 150 year old, multi-billion dollar CK Birla Group. With a global workforce of over 4000 employees, Birlasoft has a global footprint & best-in-class delivery centers in China & India.

Birlasoft deploys a host of innovative solutions and service architectures across the global Banking, Financial Services, Insurance and Manufacturing industries.

Successfully adapting to changing trends and challenges, Birlasoft is counted amongst the leading global Information Technology Services providers, based out of India. Birlasoft has participated in the globally evolving IT industry, while remaining focused on continuous innovation, bench-marking & learning.


  The Global Water Situation:


  • The current global demand of Water for industrial and domestic purpose is about 1400 billion m3 (3840 Billion Litres/day) which is likely to go up by 40% in 2025
  • About 5% of drinking water & industrial water requirement is met by Reverse Osmosis which corresponds to 210 Billion Litres per Day

Now let’s understand what is Reverse Osmosis process and RO Plants importance in today’s world

Reverse Osmosis is commonly known as RO; is a process of water purification, involves forcing water through semi-permeable membrane, by exerting pressure above the osmotic pressure , which filters out unwanted elements like arsenic, nitrates, sodium, copper, lead, some organic chemicals, and the municipal additive fluoride. It is essential where the contamination levels are high.

RO membranes are used in desalination and water purification in utilities, municipalities, power stations and drinking water producers and suppliers.

There are three kinds of RO Plants depending upon their application i.e. Sea Water Desalination, Brackish Water desalination/purification& Fresh water purification.

For example: Carlsbad desalination plant with 50 MGD(million Gallon Litres per day) capacity in California, US is “the nation’s largest, most technologically advanced and energy-efficient seawater desalination plant” which will act as main water source to the California city.

The world’s largest seawater reverse-osmosis plant, the 624,000 m³/day (165 MGD) Sorek plant in Tel Aviv, Israel, is now fully operational and catering to the potable water needs of Israel.

The Problem:

Reverse Osmosis of water is achieved through exerting pressure above the osmotic pressure RO membranes to remove the dissolved solids in the water.

This RO technology is very energy consuming as they are driven by high pressure pumps. Typically for RO desalination, 6-10 KWH power gets consumed per m3 of water produced (23 to 37 MW per million Gallon of desalinated water).

These membranes are not only costly but also deteriorate due to many internal and external reasons and the cost of replacement and down time are very costly because of resultant loss of production or loss of power generation or loss due to low production of desalinated water.

Typically, the recovery for Sea Water RO is normally 60% and as this recovery deteriorates the specific power consumption goes up. The same phenomenon of membrane fouling and membrane deterioration happens with Brackish water RO and Fresh water RO however the specific energy consumption is lower than that of sea water RO and the recovery is higher than the sea water RO. But still, they have been failing within 12-15 months and impacts with high CAPEX. There are many cases where the membrane failed in one year or less. 

This drop in recovery also adversely affects the total production, power generation and end consumer by not meeting the demand. The problem occurs also with the permeate (output water quality). It becomes difficult to identify whether the root cause is fouling of the membrane or the membrane deterioration.

ROMO Solution:

We at Birlasoft, in collaboration with SAP Co-Innovation Lab began with a question on how can we make Reverse Osmosis process in water treatment smarter while integrating the daily operations, operational efficiency and predictive analytics to benefit the business.

We envisioned an IoT solution that enables smart operations, a technology that redresses the individual needs of all the stakeholders


The ROMO app

Reverse Osmosis Monitoring and Optimization solution (ROMO) is being built in SAP HANA Cloud Platform and utilize the power of HANA to envisage operation of RO membranes.

ROMO increases both the connectedness and efficiency of the RO based water treatment by harnessing the combined strengths of SAP HANA and IoT, to provide performance monitoring with predictivity of failures built in it to take pro-active decisions in operation.


In ROMO, we have deployed SAP HANA in memory technology to provide real time actionable insights, alerts and trending with forecasting. These insights are rendered into the user friendly ROMO dashboard using SAP UI5

  • Our solution helps to  measure the performance by tracking efficiency, effectiveness of the site specific process, predict the remaining useful life
  • Calculating 20+ important parameters effecting quality, quantity and useful life using 60+ specific algorithms
  • Provide the performance indicators for RO train wise and Plant wise for highest visibility
  • Provide system generated alerts based on the current condition of the plant with prescriptive recommendations for troubleshooting

We have developed ROMO by understanding empirical relationships governing flow, permeability, pressure, salt rejection, differential pressure, and other parameters in a time phased series while looking into design specifications, implementation and operational considerations to factor in variance. Applied Transfer Functions to arrive at effectiveness of filtration and chemical cleaning cycles; optimize parameters to enhance remaining useful life.

Our solution will predict behavior patterns of RO membranes to pre-empt fouling and provide prescriptive recommendations on improving Remaining Useful Life.

We consider design parameters, commissioning parameters and online operational parameters for Feed Temperature, Permeate Flow, Concentrate Flow, Feed pressure, Concentrate pressure, Permeate Pressure, Feed conductivity and permeate conductivity along with water chemistry parameters like pH, SDI, Alkalinity and Alkali Earth Metals. All these operating conditions directly affect the quality and quantity of permeate water.  We compute the normalized RO data from above real-time data, which allows the user to compare the performance of an RO membrane to a set standard which does not depend on the changing operating conditions.

Solution Empowerment:

To help the operation team and management regarding the RO operations, the solution is considering following personas.


1. Supervisor : View the operational details of RO units and Sensors  , current trend graphs, system generated Alerts based on threshold values of the operating and calculated parameters, create Tasks based on alerts and observations, provide comments on the task and operations, generate Log book and edit sensor values when the sensor is faulty


2. Operations Manager : View the complete RO operation, check the operational effectiveness, understand the current trend, know the problem areas with support of alerts generated, approve the requests, generate reports


3. Plant Head : Get real time information on plant efficiency and effectiveness, comparative analysis of all RO lines and different plants associated with him


4. Chemist :  for manual data entry  of water chemistry parameters


Technical Impact:

There are more than 23,000 RO installations around the world in which 4000+ will be of more than 7 Million Litres per Day capacity.


Considering Top 100 RO installations, of installed capacity of 22,000+ MLD, would contain more than 25,000 sensors producing about 3 million data points every day which amounts to more than 30 GB of data. This data will be further calculated to 22 key parameters using 63 Algorithms in different stages.

It does not stop at converting input raw data to insights and then to foresights but also recommends right RO Membrane cleansing procedures by performing math on data coming from physical sensors and the data from water chemistry . This enables millions of dollar saving per year plant and thus will be the gateway to USD 1.5 Billion market

Business and Social Benefits:

ROMO solution will predict behavior patterns of Reverse Osmosis membranes to pre-empt fouling and provide prescriptive recommendations on improving Remaining Useful Life.

ROMO will provide optimal values for control parameters in order to enhance membrane Life, optimize Flows, Cleaning frequencies; costs and help in reduce specific Power consumption.

What if the companies could predict when RO membranes are about to Fail? How would that change the Game?

Social Impact:

•   Ensure un-interrupted quantity and quality of water supply to the Industrial / Drinking water purpose

•   Save up to 24000 units of electricity for 1 MGD plant over 3 months; resultant reduction in CO emission up to 12-18 tons

Business impact:

•   Predict RO Membrane Failures + Enhanced Operating Strategies –> savings of 15-50% in membrane replacement cost

•   Predict Optimal Membrane Cleaning Frequency – savings in manpower cost, consumables and chemicals

•   Up to 30% improvement in operational efficiency depending on plant age and configuration

•   Up to 20% reduction in operating cost depending on plant age, automation level and configuration –  for a 24000 KLD [5.28 MGD], 4-year old plant this corresponds to approximately US $10 M/year

•   Right replacement can be ordered at right time, for reduced inventory cost

•   Overall savings in CAPEX, chemical costs, improved inventory management of membranes and related spares and minimized operational expenses through pro-active action based on current operating levels

ROMO predictive solution provides the opportunity to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operation, with accurate failures predictions, and strategies to reduce power consumption and cost of operations. The overall benefits include:

  • Optimize specific energy and cost
  • Optimize maintenance cost
  • Reduce membrane replacement frequency and cost
  • Optimize cleaning frequency and associated cost
  • Enhance life of membrane – saving Capital Cost
  • Improving output water quality
  • Enhanced service preparedness
  • RO plant efficiency and effectiveness monitoring
  • Prescriptive recommendations for optimal performance
  • Water and treatment chemistry improvements

ROMO thus promises a revolutionary  SAP HANA-IoT solution designed for RO operations to transform the efficiency and performance of major  Water Treatment Industry and provide a fresh perspective on their operational processes.

You can use this link to view the ROMO video –

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      Author's profile photo Vasanth KUMAR
      Vasanth KUMAR

      This industry specific co-innovation story goes with SAP's outlook to "Grow the Ecosystem and Lead the Digitization of Every Industry".

      This solution attempts to provide Reverse osmosis plants across the globe with improved and consistent water quality to Industry and consumers.

      Another example of a IoT solution by a Partner built on SAP Platform.

      ROMO is built in cooperation with SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL)

      Author's profile photo Nagaraja Bhat
      Nagaraja Bhat
      Blog Post Author

      Would not have been possible without your team Vasanth. Thanks to SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL)'s unflinching support and belief in ROMO.

      Author's profile photo Shubham Srivastava
      Shubham Srivastava

      Great Solution...never thought technology like HANA can improve core chemical processes like RO...Very Nice

      Author's profile photo Pushkar Ranjan
      Pushkar Ranjan

      The IoT space is an absolute sweet spot for the technology underlying HANA and the capabilities of the SAP Digital Enterprise Platform.

      Stay tuned on this community for many many updates in the coming time.

      Thank you.

      Author's profile photo Nagaraja Bhat
      Nagaraja Bhat
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Pushkar.. looking forward to further exploit SAP HANA's capabilities for other planned developments in IoT applications.

      Author's profile photo Nagaraja Bhat
      Nagaraja Bhat
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Shubham.. yes it is exciting to be part of this solution as new age technology makes immense innovation possible. We are ideating more advanced use cased on predictive maintenance and additional topics like vehicular telemetry.

      Author's profile photo Kelvin Water Technologies Pvt Ltd
      Kelvin Water Technologies Pvt Ltd

      Very informative post, Thanks for sharing. Kelvin water technologies