Building a rapport of trust with a client is one of the most fulfilling aspects of being in business, and in our case, often opens up the door to new and exciting opportunities. A few years ago, we began working with a global chemical company to update and maintain the treatment control system at their chemical plant in Southern New Jersey, and then earlier this year, they asked us to expand our role, ultimately contracting us to plan, design and construct 27 new monitoring well control panels throughout the site.
When we began working on the project, each of the existing control panels was old and antiquated, and the control system telemetry back to the main computer system was failing. So we began the process by evaluating the existing SCADA system in relation to the old well control system architecture, and then we programmed and installed a series of new servers for the SCADA system. We also designed and fabricated control panel inserts for each of the well systems, which feed contaminated ground water to the treatment plant.
Here’s how it all works: Throughout the site, there are multiple wells that pump contaminated ground water from the plant’s subsurface wells, and that water is then pumped to the onsite treatment system to clean up the contaminants. Next, the clean, effluent water gets surface discharged back onsite, where the operations personnel enter the required flow rate of each well into the SCADA computer systems. Now, once the new control systems are in place, the speed of the well pump at each location will be set and continually adjusted to maintain the flow set point. In the event of a treatment system failure, the new control system will provide a pre-programmed shutdown sequence to shut down each well zone. Then, when the system is ready to start back up again, the main computer system will instruct the new control system on the startup sequence for each well.
Of course, the technical nature of the project calls for the use of some specialized equipment, including Wonderware’s SCADA Access Anywhere software, which we integrated into Rockwell/Allen Bradley’s Control-Logix programmable logic controllers (PLCs), with remote input and output modules located at each well location. We also utilized Eaton’s variable frequency drives to control the flow rate of each well, with a flow rate control algorithm running on a main PLC. At this point in the project, most of the new control panels are complete. However, there is still more work to be done. Over the next several months, the electrical contractor will install the panels one by one, while we begin to commission and program the new control schema. The engineering company in charge, meanwhile, will continue to serve as the operations and engineering consultant – overseeing the installation of the control panels.