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  • Troy Huisman

Utilizing SCADA Systems to Optimize Water/Wastewater Treatment Facilities

Learn how SCADA Systems play a key role in modern Water/Wastewater Treatment!

With the advent of the first SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system in the 1960’s came a technological revolution that continues on today in nearly all industrial plant and production facilities.

The same is especially true for modern day water and waste treatment facilities.

In fact, SCADA systems have improved dramatically decade after decade since its early implementation days – and its impact can easily be seen in today’s workforce.

No longer are facility operators required to make physical rounds throughout the water treatment facilities to collect samples and take individual readings from each flowmeter, today a single trained operator utilizing a PLC (programmable logic controller) can monitor and control equipment throughout the entire treatment facility (and even other facilities connected via network!) without ever leaving their seat.

This not only eliminates hundreds of wasted labor hours a week, but also with a properly utilized PLC, you have the ability to monitor alarms much earlier in the event of mechanical failure and remotely reprogram process controls long before they impair function.

By optimizing your facility’s SCADA programming with customized HMI (human-machine interface) software, you can rest assured you are reducing unnecessary expenses, titrating excess energy expenditure, and saving your plant millions in repair, labor, and maintenance costs alone!

Now, the hefty rule of thumb when considering your current operating costs and your payback period is that naturally, you’ll have to spend money to make money.

And make no mistake – if you are contemplating upgrading from your current operating system to a SCADA system, or if you’re in the market for upgrading, you’re best bet to squeeze the most value from every dollar is to look at the big picture.

This means looking at the SCADA system as a system.

You wouldn’t go to the gym with the goal of total fitness and only work out one arm, would you?

The same can be said of implementing a new (or newer) SCADA system at your facility. The most cost-effective method to do so is by an incremental process…after all, you can’t simply stop your facility’s functioning until the upgrades are installed, right?

While at first integrating a new SCADA system program may seem overwhelming (consider too, the added time needed for system debugging, matching the SCADA programming with HMI and PLC software, and training operators to utilize the new system) if done so in stages throughout the facility, you can minimize the chances of incurring additional expenses and development delays.

This is also where trial and error work to your benefit.

By upgrading process areas one at a time, you will be free to run the new and old systems parallel in order to determine whether the new system is operating correctly – and make adjustments as you go.

One last key facet to installing a new SCADA system is to involve your operators as early as possible before the changes begin to occur.

Your operators are your eyes and ears – they know how your current systems works in real-time and are an invaluable resource when calibrating your new SCADA program. Your operators, if prompted, can also give vital feedback concerning the HMI/PLC control panels and how best to optimize these displays for optimum display monitor functionality.

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