February 27, 2020

MetroCloud SCADA Technology Transforms Local Villages’ Water Management Capabilities

Intuitive Water and Wastewater Monitoring with MetroCloud SCADA

MetroCloud has always been an exciting initiative for Metropolitan Industries. With over 60 years in the industry, we saw firsthand the types of challenges our customers faced with their SCADA systems and infrastructure.

MetroCloud is meant to bring those sought after solutions directly to the customers, while also helping create efficiencies across the operations and maintenance teams with additional system features.

Whether the challenge is deciding what to do with an aging SCADA infrastructure or installing a SCADA system for the first time, MetroCloud is a cost-effective and secure solution.

Mokena, IL Case Study

The Village of Mokena, IL had an issue many municipalities across the country find themselves in today — dealing with aging SCADA infrastructure. After decades of use, the system and equipment were complex, outdated, and in dire need of an upgrade.

The existing infrastructure involved numerous sites, including various water distribution and waste collection sites. Plus, their wastewater treatment processes utilized a wide range of Allen Bradley PLC models across a hybrid of different network topologies. Existing aging SCADA servers were running on Windows NT and XP, the computer hardware used floppy disk drives, and there wasn’t a USB port in sight. And along with all of that, their most trusted SCADA integrator, someone who had been maintaining their system for years, was retiring.

The Village of Mokena needed help and wanted a partner with the knowledge and field experience of SCADA systems to help determine crucial next steps. After working with Metropolitan Industries on a handful of successful projects, Mokena reached out to Metropolitan’s municipal sales team for help.

MetroCloud, Metropolitan’s cloudbased SCADA division, was immediately brought in to assess the current state of the Mokena SCADA system and propose a plan for the village.

To begin piecing the puzzle together, the MetroCloud team wanted to understand the system operation from those who worked with it every day. They met with the head operators at the various locations to gain a real perspective on the day-to-day operations, to see what was working and where there were perceived limitations.

Across the two existing SCADA servers, the Mokena system had a 6.5 MGD WWTP with seven individual processes to monitor. Additionally, there were 12 lift stations, two pump stations, three elevated tanks, and three meter vaults.

The SCADA system also included a variety of communication paths including radio lines, T1 lines, a Data Highway network, IP networks, and all PLCs communicating within the system.

Once the full scope of the existing system was understood, the team developed a plan that would give Mokena a more reliable, more  secure, and more efficient SCADA system. The proposal focused on making updates to the main communication hub in the existing SCADA infrastructure and including a redundant MetroCloud connection.

The MetroCloud router would utilize the wired internet service provider’s (ISP) connection for its primary IPSec connection to the cloud, and a cell  modem using a private IP address as its backup connection. This change would also create redundancies across wired and wireless communication systems.

An expansion communication module was added to the existing Micrologix 1400 PLC to convert local data highway traffic into information that could be polled from the cloud via EtherNet. Another communication module was installed to the existing Micrologix 1400 to communicate to an obsolete Data Highway network. This module converted an old serial protocol into EtherNet for the MetroCloud to poll.

The MetroCloud team would also recreate the existing SCADA screens almost 1:1 to help make the new system intuitive for the end-users, keeping the learning curve to a minimum.

MetroCloud’s overall recommendation meant Mokena would avoid the responsibility of maintaining a high level of reliability on unfamiliar computer equipment as well as the
unavoidable costs of computer repair and replacement. Furthermore, there were no significant upfront investments into costly SCADA servers and software, along with support costs related to SCADA software licenses.

Compared to a legacy SCADA approach with upgrades suggested by other integrators, MetroCloud was cost-efficient and effective for the village, and they eagerly approved the proposal.
The conversion process started with moving their existing SCADA application to the MetroCloud. With over 5,000 tags of information, a mass amount of data entry was needed to recreate all the tags in the new system.

Once all the development work was completed, the project moved to the installation phase. On cutover day, the router and communication module were installed, connections to MetroCloud were established, and the full onboarding process began.

Subsequent days were spent validating complete system functionality with Mokena to ensure proper operation. The MetroCloud team also
led in-person training sessions to make sure everyone was comfortable with accessing and using the new MetroCloud SCADA system.

Mokena deemed the project a success and decommissioned its legacy system without any hesitation.

Map Overview of MetroCloud Sites in Mokena, IL

Map overview of MetroCloud sites in Mokena, IL.

Brookfield, IL Case Study

In 2016, the Village of Brookfield, IL upgraded their water management capabilities by investing in a five pump stormwater lift station. Coinciding with
the new lift station was the need for more advanced monitoring capabilities that allow the village to easily keep an eye out for problematic situations. In addition, the village also wanted to keep an eye on the water levels of the neighboring river, Salt Creek. Previously, bank overflow had been problematic, and the team wanted an opportunity to be proactive should the levels get too high in the future.

With potable water distribution being handled by the Brookfield Riverside Water Commission, the village had no prior need for a SCADA system. Looking for a solution, Brookfield reached out to Metropolitan Industries to see what they recommended.

MetroCloud, Metropolitan’s cloud-based SCADA division, was provided with the schematics, HMI files, and PLC source code for Brookfield’s existing station and quickly came up with a plan. The approach would not only take care of all of Brookfield’s needs, but it was also cost-effective and would help with productive operations planning.

The first change was to add a cell modem to the existing site allowing secure communication from the lift station on the ground to the servers in the cloud.

Next, working with a local electrician and the village, a radar level transducer, which brought water level signals back to the existing controls, was installed to the side of the bridge for Salt Creek. A built-in AccuWeather plug-in, a weather station alternative and a standard feature in all MetroCloud systems, also gave the village the ability to monitor rainfall accumulations and river levels. Utilizing these tools, Brookfield could now see the correlation between rainfall and rising creek levels, allowing them to be proactive in stopping flood damage.

The final phase of the project included providing a remote, yet secure, connection for Brookfield’s personnel so they could monitor and manage their new system from anywhere. The
team, along with the town engineer, were set up on their smart devices with an application that gave them access to historical trends and alarm
history, report generation, and more. The complete SCADA functionality of the app also incorporated alarm notifications for end-users with notices being sent via voice call, text message, or email.

At the end of the project, the Brookfield team was amazed by the new capabilities they had because of their transition to MetroCloud. And with these new capabilities, came peace of mind knowing they had total access to their SCADA system no matter where they were.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *