Software Gets Data Flowing for Water District

Feb. 23, 2018
SCADA system brings numerous improvements

Replacing a full supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is a big undertaking, and for Western Municipal Water District, Ignition by Inductive Automation was the suitable choice. Ignition is an industrial application platform with a variety of tools for building solutions in SCADA, human-machine interface and the Industrial Internet of Things.

The SCADA system at Western Municipal’s Southern California wastewater plant was no longer sufficient, so the district asked system integrator Trimax Systems to implement a new solution. According to Trimax’s former director of operations, Western Municipal asked Trimax to make a detailed comparison between Ignition and the SCADA software that Trimax normally used. Trimax ran a 14-point side-by-side comparison of the most important features, including cost, capabilities and compliance with modern IT standards. Ignition was the clear winner, so Trimax implemented it for Western Municipal, and also for all its other projects.

With the new software, Trimax solved several problems at one of the district’s wastewater plants. Western Municipal was seeking a new system that could display multiple SCADA clients on different devices, such as computer workstations, mobile devices and operator interface terminals (OITs). The OITs were in the field, so remote access was a key requirement. The district also needed a unified SCADA solution across all its facilities. Ignition proved to be powerful and flexible enough to become the new standard across the entire district.

Unlimited Access

The old SCADA system placed limitations on where, how and by whom SCADA screens could be accessed. This was especially problematic in the case of certain control panels. Before Trimax replaced the old system, the only way to check on the control panel was to have someone physically go and look at the control panel’s OIT, and then that person had to use the radio to tell someone else what was happening. With the new software, that entire process changed.

Ignition does not put restrictions on how many people can be given access to the SCADA system. Its web-based architecture allows unlimited clients to be launched on any device equipped with a web browser, so plant employees can view SCADA screens where and how they want.

Trimax installed new industrial personal computers (IPCs) as panel views all around the plant. With the new software, operators and managers can access the system from desktops, on the plant floor and on their mobile devices.

In the plant’s old SCADA system, the control panel OITs had limited visibility and functionality because they ran a very basic software application that was native to them. It was important for the new system to display full-featured SCADA screens at the control panels, as well as at multiple other locations across the plant. Thanks to the software’s open, server-centric architecture, this was easily achieved.

Once the software is installed on one server, clients can be instantly deployed without limit. This allowed Trimax to create a SCADA project in one place and share it all around the plant. Operators and managers at Western Municipal can now see screens anywhere throughout the plant and remotely. By having visibility to the whole system, they can see and control the system for the entire plant from any location. The software also reduces the time spent on project development because users can create one project for the entire plant, make changes in one place and see the updates made throughout the project.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

Previously, at different sites across the district, a variety of SCADA programs were employed, ranging from well-established systems to small, proprietary, custom-built applications. Ignition cut through the confusion and got the entire plant on the same system. Its cross-platform compatibility allows it to run equally well on any operating system. This flexibility helped the software unify the various systems at the wastewater plant and beyond.

Western Municipal Water District now has the SCADA system it needs and a solid plan to move forward. After Ignition was installed at the first facility, the water district expanded it to two others and made it the SCADA standard across the district.

About the Author

Inductive Automation

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