Powered by InduSoft Ensures Clean Water and Government Compliance
systememploys three independent, redundant stations that use a simplemasterslave
Studio was so easy to use, Majority Controls began development after
only one day of training.
water. It’s not a luxury; it’s a life-giving necessity. Consumers
demand it—and so do both the Federal and State governments across
the United States. In Michigan and surrounding states, the Great
Lakes provide the water, but the unique nature of the watershed
poses challenges that require stringent regulation.
the largest bodies of fresh water on the planet, each of the Great
Lakes is the primary water source for millions of people. Each lake,
however, is also part of a complex system that flows from Lake Superior
to Lake Ontario and from there to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As the
water flows from one lake to another it is used not only for drinking,
but industrial and waste disposal as well.
begins as crystal-clear, pure water that’s suitable for drinking
right from the lake, but—without intervention—down-stream lakes
would begin to accumulate toxic amounts of chemicals and waste.
In an effort to ensure the purity of the water, government regulations—in
particular the State of Michigan—have very demanding requirements.
The water must be constantly monitored for turbidity and pollutants.
Furthermore, recent Michigan legislation also now requires water
treatment plants to keep monitoring records for seven years.
the water treatment plant in St. Claire, the new regulations meant
that it was in dire need of an upgrade. Michigan Controls was the
vendor of choice for the project and they recommended modernizing
the outdated HMI/SCADA system to ensure compliance with current
state and federal requirements. To that end, Michigan Controls partnered
with Majority Controls, headquartered in Port Huron, Michigan, citing
their vast experience in HMI/SCADA systems. Majority Controls chose
of the stringent monitoring requirements and the necessity to keep
continual records for seven years, it was necessary to have a system
that provided highly redundant capability, ensuring optimal operational
uptime. Michigan Controls wanted to be able to run the system from
three different operator stations. In the event that any two of
the systems failed, they wanted to ensure that the third system
would enable operators to continue to monitor and record data. Any
lapses in monitoring or historical records would result in fines
and penalties—not to mention the public safety risk. Michigan Controls
wanted to avoid such a contingency at all costs, so high redundancy
was absolutely critical to the system.
of use was also a sensitive issue to the customer. They were using
a system that was written in raw Visual Basic, which made changes
to the system labor intensive. They needed a system that would be
easy to use, easy to learn, and easy to implement. According to
John McKenzie, co-owner of Majority Controls:
previous system was developed using older technology such as Visual
Basic. We really wanted to move away from that kind of language-based
solution and toward an environment in which ease of use was paramount.
We saw the InduSoft Web Studio configuration interface and it was
exactly what we envisioned.”
continued “The drag-and-drop paradigm simplified the development
process to a clean exercise centered on configuring the overall
system to meet the regulatory requirements, rather than writing
reams of Visual Basic code.”
focus was assisting the municipality to meet federal and state guidelines
and to ensure that they had a highly redundant, reliable system.
After all, we’re not in the business of being experts on a specific
HMI/SCADA development or configuration system. InduSoft Web Studio
was very easy to use, which minimized our ramp-up time. It enabled
us to focus on the customer’s need for a functional, user-friendly
as a Web-ready toolkit, with built-in database support, InduSoft
made the HMI/SCADA implementation that much easier.
Controls first replaced the hard panel with a modern PLC and LCD
panel arrangement, which functions as a backup to the three operator
stations. At any time, one operator station is designated as the
system master, and the other two are designated as system slaves.
designated master handles all PLC communication over an Ethernet
connection and also transmits tag information to the slave systems
by TCP/IP Client/Server communications. The Server records data
to a network database once every 15 seconds.
operator station is assigned a priority from 1 to 3, 1 being the
highest priority. A simple handshake among the three operator stations
enables each station to monitor the health of the other two—each
sending out a heartbeat that the other stations monitor.
the station with the highest priority is designated as the system
master. As long as the slave stations detect the heartbeat from
the master, they receive their data from it. If, however, the master
station stops sending its heartbeat because of a failure, the station
with the next highest priority takes over. The function of communicating
with the PLC and transmitting data to the remaining slave is then
assigned to the higher priority slave, which becomes the functional
the unlikely event that the new master station goes offline, master
control is assigned to the remaining slave. As stations come back
online, the system with the highest priority will resume operation
as the master and the others will return to slave operation. John
ability to easily build redundant capability using the built-in
TCP/IP Client/Server system was a key factor in our decision to
use InduSoft. Creating that capability in the other systems we evaluated
was far more complicated.”
control is passed from one machine to another, the designated master
continues to log data to the primary network database—but that’s
not all that can go wrong in such a system. Databases can also become
the primary database becomes inaccessible, the master station will
log data to a secondary database, which is often—but not always—local
to the designated Master station. When the primary database comes
back online, the data recorded in the secondary database is automatically
forwarded to the primary database. “This feature alone saved us
several days—if not weeks—during the implementation.” said McKenzie.
“The redundancy capability and the ability to enable automatic failover
and database synchronization are built into the InduSoft configuration
system, so we didn’t have to program that feature. A simple database
configuration wizard walked us through the database setup in no
requirements mandate that certain water purity conditions must be
checked regularly and their levels recorded. In the event of a purity
level fault, written reports must be created, indicating when the
fault occurred, the actual levels leading up to the fault, as well
as the status and running time of the various pumps and filters
prior to the fault. Using InduSoft’s built-in reporting functions
made it easy for Majority Controls to generate the necessary database
queries and summary reports to meet the customer’s requirements.
the end of the day Majority Controls was able to exceed the customer’s
expectations. The resulting system not only operates within the
new regulatory requirements but also enables better customer service.
The failover redundancy helps to ensure that failures are rare and
that the appropriate person is immediately notified if a failure
does occur. The continual data recording capability also gives management
the required tools to run the plant more efficiently.
customer is so pleased with the system they’re considering an extension
to it that would enable remote monitoring and management. Using
InduSoft’s built-in e-mail and Web-ready capability, operators will
be able to receive alarms and notices by cell phone and e-mail.
Logging into the system remotely through a VPN tunnel will also
Controls began the process with minimal training and required very
little support throughout the implementation. According to McKenzie
“We started this project with just one day of training from our
local InduSoft sales representative, and we required only about
five short phone calls to tech support in Austin, Texas to handle
specific questions. By the time it was over I think we used just
about every feature of the product. It was one of those projects
that could have been a major headache, but when all was said and
done, we were amazed how well the whole system worked and how smoothly
the effort unfolded.”
Electronics supplies single board computers, embedded core modules,
programmable controllers, graphical displays and associated software
products. Dominion Electronics represents InduSoft in Australia
and New Zealand.