December 8, 2010

SCADA Systems Incorporate Versatile Solutions

A Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA) is vital to any municipal application by providing users need to know information in real time critical to water and wastewater pumping installations. Having this information available allows for the efficient allocation of staff, reduces wasteful spending and most importantly allows for faster troubleshooting and minimizing the downtime of an installation. Many owners also rely on SCADA to help with preventable maintenance and can be pro-active in fine-tuning their systems for maximum efficiency.

Sycamore, Ill., Water Superintendant Mike Swedberg demonstrates how he can control and monitor vital pumping operations from the comforts of his office using the SCADA master computer.

Since SCADA’s inception back in the 1980s, Metropolitan Industries has played an integral role in the development, deployment and advancement of these systems in communities throughout the country. These systems allow operators to monitor, control, archive, receive alerts through a personal computer, cell phone, pager and land line phones.

Metropolitan is currently working on new SCADA systems for The City of Macomb, Ill., The City of Sycamore, Ill., The City of Hickory Hills, Ill., and The Village of Thornton, Ill. This article will demonstrate the unique steps each customer is taking to upgrade their systems. As you will see not all installations are cookie cutter and customization is key when incorporating a SCADA any system.

City of Sycamore, Ill.

The City of Sycamore is located 58 miles west of Chicago and encompasses about 5.57 square miles. Sycamore pumps water to over 15,000 residents through 108 miles of water main currently using four deep wells.

The City of Sycamore has experienced growth over the last decade and realized demand for the addition of new 1.5 million gallon water tower and one new deep well brining the city’s well total to five.

Given the size of the water tower, thermal wearing can become an issue and the installation of a recirculation pump is necessary. This pump is responsible for taking water from the bottom of the water tower and pumping it to the top to keep it fresh and moving.

Given this is a new addition to the water infrastructure of the city, it needed to be integrated with the existing SCADA system provided by Metropolitan. The entire system communicates via 468 MHz licensed radio frequency and is responsible for monitoring and reporting trends, alarms, process, etc. from each station. Licensed radio fit well given the rural location of the City.

“It monitors all production process of the water and all systems within,” according to Mike Swedburg, water superintendent for the City of Sycamore.

Working together with the City, Metropolitan Sales Engineer Dan Howorth suggested controlling well operation using a variable speed frequency drive and level management control to the tower using a SCADA PLC controller that integrates in seamlessly with the existing SCADA system.

City of Macomb, Ill.

Located in rural western Illinois, Macomb boasts a peaceful, laid-back feel, with plenty of pioneer history. Farms and historic barns dot the country-side and original brick buildings still make up a large portion of the city. College athletics are a source of local pride, as Macomb is home to Western Illinois University and its teams, known as The Fighting Leathernecks.

The wastewater treatment plant in town was due for a technology upgrade. It had no way to monitor or collect data electronically from the plant other than public works officials manually doing it themselves with paper, pen and a clip board.

Working together with city officials, Metropolitan surveyed the site and suggested a system that communicates via spread spectrum radio at separate frequencies of 900 MHz and 2.4 MHz. The reason two frequencies were necessary is because the clarifier and sand filters use digital I/O transmitters while the other 6 station use trio radios.

Spread Spectrum Radios can connect systems wirelessly without monthly fees or reliance upon an outside broadcasting station. They split up serial data and send it over multiple frequencies where the receiver radio merges the pieces and passes it along to the intended node. With line-of-sight communication, this option can be a secure way of linking together sites that could be many miles apart.

Sycamore, Ill., Water Superintendant Mike Swedburg shows the inside of a SCADA control panel located in Sycamore’s well house reponsible for transmitting vital information to the master computer.

Information from all 8 stations will route to a main admin building where the operator can control all mechanical components using the Internet.


Village of Thornton, Ill.,

The Village of Thornton is a quiet community located in Chicago’s south suburbs. It offers the unique combination of a true small-town charm, while being only located only 25 miles from downtown Chicago.

The Village operates two water pumping stations and one wastewater lift station. The existing “tone-style” telemetry system that monitored all three stations began to show its age and needed replacement. It communicated via hard-wired telephone lines known for frequent downtime due to lighting strikes and/or accidental cutting by construction crews.

Working with Robinson Engineering Ltd., and Contractor Gaskill and Walton Construction Company, Metropolitan Sales Engineer Keith Girup recommended upgrading to a SCADA system with cellular communication.

Fast becoming the first choice of clients wanting dependability and 99.9% uptime, Cellular communication is the easiest way to integrate remote sites in to a SCADA system. If cellular service is available in your area, a cellular modem can bring DSL-like speeds to any site for just a small monthly fee.

All information is transmitted to a master computer located in an administration building. By working one on one with client, Metropolitan was able to program the master computer to print out Environmental Protection Agency reports by the click of a mouse. These reports are specific in nature and the programming in the computer converts all information into a format the EPA demands.

Hickory Hills, Ill.

The City of Hickory Hills is a southwest suburb of Chicago and home to around 15,000 residents and encompasses around 3 square miles. There SCADA project is a great example of how you can “phase-in” upgrades overtime without losing any communication during the process.

The City operates two pumping stations and one sanitary lift station using an existing SCADA system that communicates via hard-wired telephone lines but will soon upgrade to licensed radio. When the existing system began to show its age, Metropolitan suggested upgrading to the licensed radio.

Phase one of the project will involve the supplying and installation of a new SCADA master computer in the administration building. This will allow the user to get up to minute status reports of all three stations in the field from the comforts of the office.

Future phases will involve upgrading the communication from hard-wired telephone lines to licensed radio. During the transition, no communication will be lost and the system will operate as a hybrid until all three stations are upgraded to the new communication medium. This allows the City to slowly upgrade their SCADA equipment according to their timetable and budget.