Insights

Controlling O&M Costs with SCADA Optimization

Controlling O&M Costs with SCADA Optimization

Municipalities and utilities are faced with ever-continuing budget cuts, aging infrastructure, equipment obsolescence, and staff reductions, resulting in significant challenges in the operation and maintenance (O&M) of water and wastewater assets while meeting regulatory requirements.

Most water and wastewater operations have instrumentation, controls, telemetry and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems which provide some level of automation and remote monitoring. Effective use of SCADA systems is well-proven to help control O&M costs by more efficient use of staff time, more effective monitoring and control of equipment and processes to minimize operational costs such as power usage and chemicals, delivery, and more effective generation of trending reports on a wide variety of parameters for troubleshooting purposes.

As with much technology, there are continuous improvements of these systems, and there are often modest improvements that can maximize the capabilities of existing SCADA systems to reduce O&M costs.

Recognizing the need to help water and wastewater operations optimize their SCADA capabilities, Wright-Pierce has expanded its Instrumentation & Controls (I&C) Engineering Division to include SCADA Integration and Field Services. Our combined I&C Engineering and SCADA Integration Field Services allows Wright-Pierce to offer “turn-key” improvements to help our clients optimize their SCADA system capabilities.

In order to identify cost-effective opportunities to optimize an existing SCADA system, the first step is to perform a SCADA Optimization Survey, which will identify “risk issues” as well as areas where improved instrumentation, control or SCADA monitoring will improve O&M efficiency and reduce costs.

Based on this survey, Wright-Pierce develops a recommended “turn-key” solution that could include:

  • Replacing outdated PLCs (programmable logic controllers) with new state-of-the-art PLCs that are “maintainable and supportable.”
  • Identifying unreliable and/or costly SCADA communication systems, and provide a cost-benefit analysis of potential “hybrid” solutions to maximize performance and minimize costs.
  • Performing radio telemetry path study to implement a more reliable radio communication system.
  • Installing a more efficient alarm system to minimize unreliable/costly “nuisance” alarms.
  • Providing redundant power, PLC controls, SCADA servers and network systems to minimize failure.
  • Developing additional automated reporting in order for more efficient use of operational staff.
  • Providing remote access of SCADA system to allow for off-site monitoring capability.
  • Addressing cyber-security issues.
  • Providing solutions for unsecured physical access and vulnerability of SCADA system.
  • Implementing data backup systems.
  • Identifying and provide solutions of UL508A code issues.
  • Providing instrumentation maintenance and calibration services.
  • Providing UL 508A compliant panels with associated programming, testing and commission services.
  • Providing efficient aeration, pumping, and chemical control systems to minimize energy and chemical usage/costs.