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Automation, Controls

Case study: Water filtration plant automation

The team had a large-scale automation project goal of integrating 121 water filtration plants

By David Ubert and Francisco Alcala April 23, 2020
Figure 4: The project team worked simultaneously on the organizational/structure and the technical/infrastructure tracks to achieve project goals. Courtesy: CDM Smith

This project, completed over three years from 2011 to 2014, included an automation program for 121 water filtration plants.

Scope:

  • Provided automation design and integration services for 121 water filtration plants islandwide.
  • Developed robust and complete programmable logic controller programs that will allow this aqueduct and sewer authority to operate the plants remotely.
  • Worked with plant operators to transform the operational organization to ease the change from the current manual plant operation to a modern technology-based organization that can operate a plant remotely.
  • Worked in two parallel tracks: restructuring while building automation capability.

Input/output density: 121 sites with an average of 800 I/O point that is equivalent to 96,800 I/O points.

Complexity: Standard simple process in multisite facilities with aging facilities with some level of variation on process and control architecture and diverse projects in concurrent execution.

Resources: Project management and design team, programming standardization and test team and implementation team.

Figure 3: This outlines a stepped approach toward achieving the large-scale automation project goal of integrating 121 water filtration plants. Courtesy: CDM Smith

Figure 3: This outlines a stepped approach toward achieving the large-scale automation project goal of integrating 121 water filtration plants. Courtesy: CDM Smith

Challenges:

  • Existing infrastructure with many automation legacy systems.
  • Project team conformed by several organizations:
    • CDM Smith program management team, design team and lead integration team.
    • Process control supplier in charge of panels, instrumentation and installation. A process control supplier is the denomination of a contractor or vendor that commonly provide control panels, instrumentation and integration services.
    • Supervisory control and data acquisition vendor integrator responsible of corporate data integration.
    • Application system provider contractor responsible for human machine interface
    • Application system provider contractor in charge of application deployment and commissioning.
  • Several levels of variation on the filtration process and control system.
  • Geographically distributed work site, some with difficult access.
  • Changes in scope and schedule constraints.

Success factors:

  • Conformation of project management, design and integration team with vast experience on water filtration projects.
  • Develop standards library for PLC and SCADA applications that fit all applications through a parametrizable setting.
  • Filtration plants were organized by clusters to simplify management and operation.
  • Execution of a thorough project management process with five phases:
    • Preconstruction tasks.
    • Hardware readiness.
    • Startup readiness.
    • Endorsement and approval.
Figure 4: The project team worked simultaneously on the organizational/structure and the technical/infrastructure tracks to achieve project goals. Courtesy: CDM Smith

Figure 4: The project team worked simultaneously on the organizational/structure and the technical/infrastructure tracks to achieve project goals. Courtesy: CDM Smith


David Ubert and Francisco Alcala
Author Bio: David Ubert is an automation technical strategy leader at CDM Smith; Francisco Alcala is an automation engineer at CDM Smith.