After a tumultuous 2020, the world has battled numerous challenges on many different fronts, leading the water industries to pivot toward more resilient services and sectors. 2020 has forced almost all industries to innovate within their sectors, finding new ways to stay competitive. Digitalization and new business models are attempting to offer innovative solutions to age-old infrastructure issues. It’s hard to say now, but here are some of the predicted trends for 2021.
Digitalization Shifts Ramp Up
This may be a surprise to none, but we’re living in a world of increasing digitalization. The digital water market is no different, considering it’s the fastest growing and highest opportunity space in the industry. This allows utilities and treatment facilities to have access to large quantities of data, giving them valuable insights on how to optimize their production and processes. In a world where working from home is normal, digitalization in this industry is only helping to advance an aging business model.
New Business Models
That leads us to the next trend of new business models. From Software-as-a-Service to Data-as-a-Service, and cloud computing, these strategies are giving small and mid-size companies high-tech tools to innovate. This continues the trend of heavy innovation ushered in by 2020’s events.
The 2020 economic downturn has left municipalities financially strapped, as with many other businesses. As a result, third-party services have stepped into the spotlight. They’re expected to accelerate during 2021 as utilities and treatment plants place greater emphasis on operating costs, resiliency, and technology adoption. Smaller utilities will be most impacted by economic stress and will be more likely to look to contract operators for cost savings, additional operational staff, and new technologies.
Solutions to Age-Old Infrastructure Issues
With over 2.2 million miles of drinking water pipe and 1.8 million miles of wastewater pipe, addressing aging water infrastructure continues to be one of the most pressing issues facing the municipal water sector. The scale of investment required points more towards rehabilitation of these assets rather than new construction all together. This is expected to usher in more advanced asset management, such as predictive analytics.
New Materials for Piping
This year will likely see a shift from traditional materials like iron and steel, to newer materials, such as prestressed concrete and various plastics like PVC, HDPE, and PE. Plastic pipes account for 75% of the forecasted material used in pipe rehabilitation and repair projects as plastic vendors benefit from their preference in trenchless applications.
2020 Was A Catalyst for Change
Solutions to our modern problems combined with new technologies are creating more applications in the water sector. 2020 has shown us how adaptable we are to change. Whether it’s teleworking, limited social interactions, or new business models for the water industry, the pandemic has pushed the entire world to innovate!
These are just a few of the trends you can expect to see this year in the wastewater industry. At i2M, we’re always on the cusp of a new product, new application, or an answer to an old problem. Our line of CERA~DUR hollow fiber ceramic membranes and CERA~SKID filtration systems are innovative in their own regards!