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Remote access via 4G LTE brings benefits to city’s wastewater crews

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Remote access via 4G LTE brings benefits to city’s wastewater crews

An Oregon city’s Public Works department serves about 80,000 residents, and they needed to ensure that the area’s infrastructure is top-notch. Like in many cities around the world, improving efficiency is sought in the duties they take on.

Its wastewater division is no exception. The department monitors five remote lift stations that report back to a central SCADA system. The lift stations move sewage to interceptors that take it to the area’s water reclamation facility. Being able to monitor these sites is crucial to ensure that the city’s systems are running correctly and efficiently. 

A cellular router was being used to connect the lift stations to the SCADA system, but the city personnel were not able to remotely access the lift stations with this method, and it also did not support PLC-to-PLC communications. Site visits were possible, of course, but weren’t the most efficient use of time or funds.

The city worked with local system integrator ORPAC Systems to find a solution that allowed for remote access to its lift stations and let personnel avoid regular site visits. In ProSoft Technology’s Industrial Cellular Gateway they found a solution that enabled streamlined remote access and longevity for the application, thanks to the gateway’s support of 4G LTE networks. The gateway also supports Verizon and GSM networks, and the customer selected Verizon.

“A plus was being able to handle remote access through Belden Horizon,” said Scott Monton, Regional Sales Manager at ProSoft. “Being able to securely troubleshoot through a Web platform provided flexibility.” 

Also key to the decision to go with ProSoft’s solution was the long relationship between the company and the system integrator, and the support provided by ProSoft’s Wireless Field Application Engineer Clayton Maxwell. The distributor North Coast Electric was also part of the team behind the application.

The city uses six cellular gateways to make sure that water levels are safe, pumps are working adequately, and the lift stations are correctly moving wastewater to the interceptors. If an alarm sounds from the equipment, the gateway issues a quick notification of the exact issues in the process thanks to the existing programming in the city’s Rockwell Automation® controllers and the SCADA system. 

Eric Summers, Control Systems Project Manager at ORPAC Systems, noted that this solution helped meet the city’s other objectives for the application. 

“This setup also enables PLC-to-PLC and PLC-to-SCADA communication, and allows for integration to all devices from anywhere,” he explained. “The gateways also ensure that all data transmission is executed at an increased rate, which allows for proper alarm indication due to the wastewater’s high flow rates.” 

This solution also helped reduce costs. In addition to decreased transportation costs due to fewer site visits, maintenance expenses have been reduced now that troubleshooting can be done from one site. This has also helped the city reduce engineering times, and has made PLC coding more efficient since it can now be handled from one central location.

With remote access now at their fingertips, the city’s Public Works personnel have been able to optimize their resources and focus even more on helping their community.

Another municipal utility used cellular gateways as part of a managed remote infrastructure communications network. Read the case study!