SCADA Improvement For Wastewater Treatment Facility

Project Summary Highlights:

Hardware/Software implemented:

  • Inductive Automation – Ignition HMI
  • Rockwell – CompactLogix PAC
  • Custom Control Panels

Key Improvements:

  • Obsolescence avoidance
  • Migration planning
  • Network design
  • PLC programming
  • HMI design
  • Reporting
  • Alarm management

A large public sewer authority, comprised of a wastewater treatment facility and 28 remote pumping stations, was using a legacy SCADA system with little visibility and central control of their system.  Only the remote pumping stations and a few critical plant flow signals were connected to the SCADA system.  The authority was aware of the expected remaining service life of the system, knew of the capabilities of present-day SCADA systems, and the new regulations required for their industry.  These needs had to be balanced against their budget.    PDA was consulted to provide a long-term solution that could help them achieve a balance.  Considering the limited budget available to the sewer authority, PDA provided a systematic approach to the upgrade, planning the work in phases.

Before improvements could begin, the sewer authority requested that a parallel control system be implemented.  This would provide the plant with consistent operation and ease learning of the new system until the legacy controls were all replaced.  To assist in the design, a tour and client workshop were arranged by PDA with a similar, successful project at a participating regional client.  This arrangement removed any reservations within the authority regarding the new SCADA application.  Sample HMI screens were built allowing the plant operators to gain experience with the conversion.

Overall, Phase One of the project went very smoothly.  Challenges on the project included harmonizing legacy and modern controllers and networks while limiting rework in future phases.  The remote sites currently are communicating through leased copper lines.  Although cellular was considered for future phases, the authority now plans on installing fiber to each remote site.  This will change the communications to Ethernet and will be able to connect each site directly to the SCADA system.  phases will include upgrading these to a consistent, industry-standard hardware, at which time a fiber-based network from a local service provider will be introduced.  PDA planned to ease the Authority into the changes, giving them exactly what they wanted, but minimizing scarring on the project.  Project scarring is most common when upgrades are phased. This means you must complete engineering to a certain level to achieve system functionality during a phase. The next phase may require rework from the first phase to continue advancements. This work is known as project scarring. PDA engineered the project phases to minimize the scarring while designing each phase to fit within a municipal’s budget constraints. This allows municipals to enhance their systems while making each phase financially manageable.

The next phase will involve the addition of Secondary Gate Actuators to be PLC controlled.  Presently to operate these gates someone has go to the blower building and physically open and close the gate.  These operations are major safety hazards due to some of the weather conditions involved and must be eliminated.   In addition, in this phase, PDA will also introduce more signals to the SCADA system in the plant which are currently not visible.  The New HMI (Ignition) screens will be created to show the same data found on the existing legacy screens.  To minimize project scarring, and to conserve budget, PDA will be able to use the same tags and registers in the SCADA screens.  Facility Managers have options when working with PDA regarding SCADA screens. They can choose to mirror the existing screens to minimize operator change management, redevelop the screens to a new templated-based screen development allowing for ease of implementation across a SCADA system, or adopt new standards such as High-Performance HMI visualization. Any option that is chosen will undergo a thorough review of the screens as they are developed in the new platform. PDA hosts HMI workshops that promote functionality checks and review with the municipality as the screens are being developed to ensure that all parties are satisfied with the look/feel of the screens. Overall, these solutions will provide a better (safer) work environment.

No technical roadblocks have been encountered in Phase Two.  The largest challenge was to adapt the scope of the phase to meet the Authority’s approved budget.  PDA led open and iterative planning sessions with the client to triage the highest priority items into the budget allotment.

Future phases will include the upgrade of the control systems at each of the 28 locations.  Also, the installed fiber communication will allow direct control from SCADA to any of these remote sites. Finally, the original alarming notification was very basic. There was one person on the call list and the information provided on the call-out was vague.  The person had to go to the plant to see what the alarm was before addressing it. Now with the alarms going through the Ignition call out, the person who is at the top of the roster gets the exact description of the alarm and can travel directly to the location instead of having to go to the plant to determine the issue. At the end of the projects, the Authority will have a single source of information for their entire operations.  All necessary operations and notifications will be visible to those who need it, when they need it.

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Digitalization Digest: Lines Configuration

A problem, facing a large beverage manufacturer, was the installed network operating at the plant, connecting the equipment on the production line.  The approach that had been adopted was a hodgepodge that had grown with the plant.  This resulted in the existence of multiple lines on a single network, an arrangement that worked for a while but clearly was not the best practice going forward. For instance, an obvious limitation was the availability of IP addresses and outages to several lines due to unrelated machine issues on the shared network.  New sub-networks were created to accommodate additional lines, but the problem remained in that the original network still serviced multiple different lines.

Process and Data Automation (PDA) was hired to reorganize the existing network and to isolate this equipment from other networks. This required PDA to work with the Client’s IT team to define the new architecture, installers to provide new media (creating a new physical network), and other OEMs to provide the client the correct hardware and programming to meet the client’s new corporate standards.

PDA engineers initially undertook a pre-planning phase, a type of network architecture overview.  The preplanning phase involved choosing and assigning IP addresses for each of the machine centers based on the new machine orientation.  PDA engineers worked with the key stakeholders (Client, contractors, and OEMs) to provide a roadmap leading from the singular, overlapping network to independent networks for the new, independent lines.  That the company intended to simultaneously move an entire network proved to be advantageous since it allowed the rearrangement of things.

The selection of IP addresses followed a pattern that was logical to the actual flow of the line, i.e., machines at the beginning of the line would go to the top of the IP address range.  Much of this work utilized an Excel spreadsheet and was done with the technical knowledge of what the IP addresses represented and how they were to be used.  PDA engineers went on site to use the new IP addresses that had been selected.  This involved accessing the machine centers to reconfigure them to use the new IP addresses.  This did require updating not only hardware addresses in network equipment-line network switches, PLCs, HMIs, and gateways. Machine logic for communications also needed to be updated as messages between machinery followed new paths. As needed to assist the Client in meeting its new standards hardware was replaced.  This resulted in the need to commission the new switches on this new network.

A significant challenge to the work arose from the fact that the company was completing physical changes to the line while PDA was disentangling the IP addresses.  For example, the equipment from one line was disassociated with its former line and reused on the second while needing to minimize downtime.  This interfered with the ability of PDA to focus on just one line, and it became necessary to consider both lines since changes were occurring simultaneously.  A further challenge arose with the changing of some switches, for which the available documentation did not match the actual reality.  It was found that for some older switches it was necessary to reset them before changes could be made.  PDA corrected the documentation where it was necessary, i.e., when it did not match reality, and labeled the equipment to simplify further work on the network.

PDA engineers successfully untangled the lines and networks, taking it all back to its’ roots and rebuilding to give better isolation between the systems.  The changes made by PDA have represented a significant improvement, providing reliability, and eliminating any dependency of one line upon another.  The operation of the machines has also improved.  From the standpoint of administration and management, the changes realized an improvement due to the clear separation of the lines.  Future upgrades would be to improve operator visibility, possibly deploying a comprehensive level package SCADA or MES.

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Digitalization Digest: Upgrade to a Food & Beverage Plant

The next entry in our Digitalization Digest, articles and thoughts regarding manufacturing plant digitalization, focuses on a project for an international manufacturer of private label food and beverages across North America and Italy for retail grocery, food service, and industrial customers.

Limited production capacity, due in part to an obsolescent network within the plant, had become a major problem. Process and Data Automation (PDA) commissioned and tested the production equipment, as well as evaluated and programmed the control network which included PLC and HMI work. During the evaluation step, it was established that the existing pumps in the plant and their VFD controls were unable to meet production needs and should be replaced. In addition, the existing controls operated on DeviceNet, a system that the plant had already decided to phase out, represented a further limitation.

PDA recommended the installation of an Ethernet control system with retention and careful use of the existing legacy PLC processor. Upon further discussion and evaluation, it was then determined that network evaluation, together with a segregation strategy, was essential to ensure that the increased traffic from the new equipment would not interfere with other operations in the plant. PDA provided the engineering and hardware for the PLC programming to integrate two new SPXFlow Universal TS series pumps and replace two Powerflex 40 drives with Powerflex 525 drives.

During the project, problems associated with merging new technologies with the aging infrastructure were successfully overcome by being able to provide the plant with a more modular system, as well as the capability to meet the production demands.  Also, by using the approach of retaining functional legacy equipment, the overall cost of the project was significantly reduced.

Overall, the changes to the plant simply represented an upgrade to the existing processing system and replacement of the older controls that had operated at a lower feed rate. The new equipment provided enhanced diagnostic capabilities that allow both tracking and recovery of data. PDA discussed with the client the need for future improvements in the plant, including:

  • Upgrading the obsolete PLCs
  • Line Diagnostics/OEE
  • Network migration (DeviceNet to Ethernet) for the remaining legacy equipment

PDA is a full-service, CSIA Certified industrial control systems integration firm. The Controls Engineering group specializes in physical automation system design, programming, and commissioning. PDA also features a dedicated Digitalization Group (DSG) that connects automated equipment and systems to the business system environment including protected recipe systems, data collection and reporting, and data historian implementation. DSG can provide the systems you need to set your systems up for proper operation and then provide the tools you need to make sure you execute as planned.

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PDA Lends Expertise to Conveyor Controls Project

Process and Data Automation (PDA) provided engineering expertise for a conveyor controls project at a beverage company based in the Great Lakes region. This expertise was directed at the design and implementation of new programming of the OEM and plant provided PLC, HMI and motor controls in order to integrate the plant’s existing processing systems and conveyors into a new line configuration with OEM controls. The client requested that the motors be controlled by new Allen-Bradley Power Flex 525 Series VFDs communicating via ethernet, within new control panels designed and built by Krones Inc.

The engineering group at PDA provided the labor necessary to write the controls code that was integrated with the PLC supplied by Krones. While the PLC and HMI code was what the project required, what was necessary was this and additional, engineering for the final design and project administration to incorporate the needs of both client and OEM.

The project was organized for PDA to provide engineering to coordinate and control the existing conveyor and machine centers that were necessary for the operation of the bottling line, and where the existing centers had not been upgraded. This involved blending equipment from multiple manufacturers into a functioning system, coordinating installation, start-up and runout testing between multiple trades. In addition, PDA acted as a resource to both the equipment supplier and the end-client to triage and resolve issues that were outside the scope of one single party. This role was essential in this project because PDA acted as the glue or connection between the new machine centers provided by Krones, and the original hardware installed in the plant. The involvement of PDA allowed the other parties to focus on their core responsibilities.

The solution provided by PDA has led to increased throughput, a more modular system, and reduced project costs. The integration of the OEE data from the machine centers into the line information system (LIS) now allows data to be readily obtained or tracked by the end-client.

Future upgrades the end client is considering are:

  • Line Balancing
  • Control Zoning (currently there is only one zone)
  • Line Diagnostics LD
  • Line Management Systems LMS

 

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