Exceeding Expectations with Mobile HMI/SCADA

Sept. 22, 2020

Operations come into focus with high-performance graphics.

When the Ashley Valley Water Reclamation Facility (AVWRF) needed a new human-machine interface (HMI), it worked with a system integrator to get the HMI it needed — plus a lot more. AVWRF is located near Vernal, Utah, and has a design capacity of 4.7 million gallons per day (MGD) and can be expanded to 9.4 MGD. The facility discharges into Ashley Creek, and meets water-quality standards required for the protection of the environmentally sensitive water habitat. Disinfection occurs with ultraviolet light, eliminating the need for chlorine, which could have a detrimental impact on endangered species.

For its new HMI and other improvements, AVWRF worked with APCO Inc. of North Salt Lake. APCO is a process control and optimization company that works across several industries including water & wastewater, oil & gas, and manufacturing. For this project, APCO used Ignition by Inductive Automation® — an industrial application platform for building solutions in HMI, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

AVWRF’s previous HMI/SCADA system was getting old, and the facility wanted to modernize. APCO developed the new system on Ignition Perspective, which enables developers to build screens that automatically adapt to whatever device they’re shown on — whether it be phone, tablet, or desktop computer. The new system provides greater mobility, high-performance graphics, automated reporting, trending, remote connection, and the ability to create customized features with Python scripting.

Modern Ideas

“As we started the project, ideas started flowing,” said Dean Gibbs, plant manager at AVWRF. “We would run the ideas past APCO and we ended up with a lot more out of the HMI project than I ever expected.” Cameron Price, control systems engineer for APCO, liked the facility’s desire to improve its operations. “Ashley Valley was looking for a company that understood the future direction of SCADA, and could help them move in that direction,” said Price. “They wanted something that would be robust, reliable, and current, and that’s what we were able to provide.”

The project came in 17 percent under budget — in part due to Ignition’s unlimited licensing model — and it also provided numerous improvements over the old system. “We’re able to see live data happening throughout the facility,” said Gibbs. “We’re able to make changes on the fly. We’re seeing power quality meters, we’re able to see multiple trends at one time, side-by-side. We now have a product that is 10 times better than what we had before. The efficiency that we now see is very impressive.”

Scott Ashby, control systems engineer for APCO, said the software has the flexibility to provide the right solution. “Ignition allowed us to provide screens in every building without needing larger licenses,” he said. “We were able to install iPads in every building. The operator can pull that iPad down and operate any part of the plant and also walk around with that iPad. To log in with iPads from anywhere and see all the screens would not have been possible without Perspective.”

“I can shut off a piece of equipment where I’m at, start it back up, and check it without having to come back to the control room,” said Devan Long, operator for AVWRF. “The operator on call takes an iPad home with him and if he has an alarm, he can look it up and see if he needs to come in now or just come in the next day.”

Faster Reports, Faster Fixes

Reporting to both the State and the EPA have been greatly improved. Automated reporting has replaced a time-consuming manual process. “It’s gone from a matter of hours to a matter of minutes,” said APCO’s Price.

APCO also provided PLC and telemetry upgrades. Previously, there were no remote connection abilities, so all on-call events had to be addressed in person, and SCADA programming had to be done on-site. The new system is better. “It opens up the connection for us to be able to remotely troubleshoot, and make any changes remotely,” said APCO’s Ashby.

Security has also been improved. “Our entire system is more secure than it has ever been,” said Gibbs. “I sleep very well now, knowing that we’re in good hands with the Ignition HMI and APCO, and that my operators have full control of the facility.”

Editor's Note: Scranton Gillette Communications and the SGC Water Group are not liable for the accuracy, efficacy and validity of the claims made in this piece. The views expressed in this content do not reflect the position of the editorial teams of Water & Wastes Digest, Water Quality Products and Storm Water Solutions.

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