Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Using Open Standards in Water and Wastewater

I hadn't expected to be blown away by Inductive Automation's Using Open Standards, web-based modern SCADA technology to manage your water operations webinar, but the collection of speakers and content was phonomenial!

Don Pearson, the moderator, opened up with a brief presentation on federal 'relief' monies specific to water and wastewater. Henry Palechek presented trends that he's taken Helix Water District of San Diego through from their $2 mil VAX system, to their $350k Wonderware system, to their existing FactoryPMI system. He had a lot of interesting insight into the decision process and business ramifications of his choices. The transcript can be read here (you can also listen to a recording of the interview from the webinar).

Patrick Callaghan of MCS Integrations then presented a system integrators prospective. He showed off a live system (which, by the way, made me unnecessarily nervous) that he wrote for the City of Largo Vista in Texas. His setup was INCREDIBLE!!! Operators run around with tablet PCs, connected via VPN over the cell network. Everything looked sharp and screens were linked together intuitively. He had screens where he could create groups of operators on the fly that recieve alarms at different intervals until they're acknowledged. He showed generic tanks and valves that would display different values based on their types, but used the same objects/windows. This included animation based on setpoints (levels in a tank), an alarm history, trends, and even a custom note field that would record the operator/date_time and create an overlay icon on the main screen that showed the existence of a note. The trend screen allowed you to create, save, and edit arbitrary groups of pens. He had all sorts of reports autogenerated that operators needed to generate, and had an integrated pdf library of the ones they had to fill out by hand. It's hard to fully describe how sweet his SCADA package is - it seemed more to me like the product of a $1mil well written custom application that was tailored to the client. I've never seen such a thing from Wonderware, Rockwell, GE, or the others.

That webinar was fantastic! I'll keep my eyes open for more.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

suferb -

I'm glad to see that you are posting on your blog again. Quick question for you: if you were doing a large Factory PMI system, which PLC would you choose for the project? Which PLC did they use in the wastewater project?

surferb said...

I think that particular project runs on an AB Control Logix PLC. As far as which PLC to use for a large project - it doesn't matter at all. What's important is to match the PLC capabilities with your project requirements (projecting growth) and your comfort (brand choice/local support/etc). In most cases I would recommend using Ethernet based communication for standardization, cost effectiveness, and future growth/support. This is something that EVERY vendor supports.