Whether you obtain your incoming water from your local municipality, the nearby river or a natural mountain spring—or a mix of these sources—consistent taste and quality of water is your most important ingredient as a brewer or bottle packer.
While some daily tests may occur in your incoming water, you probably have gaps in your analyses, making it difficult to spot trends either at the input of your water filtration/processing system or at its output—before it goes into your product. KETOS, a five-year-old company, set out to fill in these crucial information gaps using the latest in instrumentation, data analysis and IIoT functionality. With these tools, food and beverage processors can use the real-time, actionable data and insights to inform operating decisions and foresee major events before they occur—while being remote.
I spoke with Meena Sankaran, KETOS founder and CEO, to learn more about the company’s vision for water. She has a BE in Electronics Engineering from India and an MS in Electrical Engineering from UTA, Texas. Sankaran has been a winner of several awards including being featured on Forbes as one of the awe-inspiring women and 100 global innovators by Goldman Sachs.
FE: What prompted you to start KETOS?
Meena Sankaran: Growing up in India, I experienced that access to safe water, affordability for water filters and storage tanks were all significant issues. Under those circumstances and the exposure to waterborne illnesses, I became quite conscious about how we protect, preserve, and consume such a precious resource.
My initial career was heavily focused on data centers, infrastructure, and networking, but I never lost sight of wanting to build something that I was passionate about while it intersected with some of my skills. The need to transform my day-to-day life where my career and purpose in life were aligned on the same path was an important driver in leveraging technology to solve a dire application with broader social importance.
That desire for a mission-driven culture, specifically focused on water, is why KETOS was founded—and why solving an important problem, no matter how hard the challenge, was something I didn’t hesitate to take on.
FE: Is KETOS an acronym? What’s its derivation?
Sankaran: The name “KETOS” is a derivative of “CETOS” which is Orca in Greek. As one of the planet’s largest ocean mammals, the KETOS name and logo represents our commitment to the oceans, water quality, and the planet as a whole.
FE: How did you envision the integral parts of the KETOS solution?
Sankaran: The water industry has traditionally been siloed with vendor-oriented decision making and point solutions that require high capital investments and labor-intensive maintenance of specialized equipment.
My goal has always been to shift people’s mindset from these approaches that require large capital budgets and heavy labor commitments to a solution that is simple, comprehensive, and affordable. Creating a fully integrated solution with intelligent hardware, stable connectivity infrastructure, an interactive software platform, and hassle-free services—all for a predictable, flat service fee—was imperative. In addition, this was to be executed without sacrificing accuracy and quality. KETOS test results range from ±3% to ±10 percent of what a NELAC lab offers for several water sources.
Finally, the operators had to be empowered with all the tools so they could remain as water experts and not be forced to take on the role as “technologists.” I learnt that operators had plenty of data—what they needed was to make the data actionable. So, as part of the KETOS solution, we’ve created the workflow to detect, process, analyze the data and deliver actionable intelligence. They can simply log into the KETOS software platform or their mobile app and focus on data that’s relevant to their operation—both reports and threshold alerts can be automated in the platform as well.
Operators are also able to use the KETOS ML/AI algorithms for predictive maintenance and understand issues proactively that might arise in their operation. As the solution is very interoperable, the data from several third-party systems can be ingested and analyzed.
Ultimately I saw the vision as the power of how data would transform the operator’s lives and the hardware was just a means to making that possible. Every single building block in the solution contributes towards that end goal.
FE: Where would KETOS be used and who would use it?
Sankaran: KETOS solutions address pain points in municipalities, manufacturing and agriculture. There are three specific sub-verticals across the agriculture sector: open field ag, indoor/vertical farming and food/beverage/ag processing segments.
KETOS is a great fit for beverage companies that rely on groundwater (well water) source or a mix of surface water, city water and groundwater for their inlet supply, understanding composition pre-treatment and post-treatment, consistent color blending for beverages, taste control based on proprietary recipes and controlled effluent discharge—all become critical where KETOS Shield can add significant value. We are currently working with a brewery in SoCal for this specific use case where the groundwater dependency for inlet water supply is a mission-critical component of customer satisfaction. We are able to offer a jointly integrated solution with a treatment provider, providing complete lifecycle management with the data-driven insights to the operator.
In open-field ag environments, where nutrient management and aquifer rehabilitation is of concern to large growers, the water composition is also controlled with a high frequency of testing using a system like KETOS Shield delivering optimum crop yield via data-driven models and predictive intelligence developed as a result of real-time remote monitoring of critical constituents.
FE: Besides monitoring input water, could KETOS monitor the output of a wastewater treatment system?
Sankaran: Yes, KETOS can be configured to measure either inlet or outlet water (or both) in various applications. It can measure several types of water sources and discharges.
FE: What about food safety applications?
Sankaran: KETOS is currently leveraged by large greenhouses, vertical growers for indoor farming for nutrient management, automated dosing control and increasing yield/quality control of their crops.
FE: Is KETOS installed when there is existing analytical equipment. If so, does the analytical equipment need to be on line (all the time) to record data?
Sankaran: The KETOS Suite does not need to be connected to other analytic equipment. It can capture data as per the frequency desired by the user. Since the solution is interoperable, it can integrate all sources of third-party sensor data, and help with digitization, integration and analysis for delivering insights through a single pane of glass to enhance several advanced modeling and predictive analytics.
FE: What do you feel is unique about KETOS?
Sankaran: No solution for water management addresses pain points as a holistic, flexible and interoperable architecture. More so, none of the quality monitoring instrumentation or platforms in the market today deliver an integrated offering with the user in mind for an autonomous, affordable, modular and accurate solution in real-time to derive insights and data-driven decision making.
The myopic vision towards water that has existed for decades by all the incumbents will not resolve the myriad of issues. An inter-disciplinary approach of cross-functional expertise leveraged by KETOS is the only answer for the complexities that water brings to surface.
In addition, technology cannot be looked at in isolation but the adoption of technology with innovative business models have to be addressed as a comprehensive blend for true success.
KETOS is unique in its DNA of problem solving, the mission-driven nature of the experts, the creativity and flexibility of our GTM models and the analogous design-thinking approach of entering the water industry from the enterprise tech sector: each aspect allowing a blend of limitless possibilities to succeed in adding value for users in this Industry.
FE: Is KETOS available now? Are you looking for any kind of partnerships?
Sankaran: KETOS is available and has been deployed in US, Canada, India and Mexico since 2017.
For more information, https://ketos.co/.