Special treatment

The residents of Orlando and nearby Florida communities are more likely to see lightning strike than to have their toilets run dry. Extensive high-tech upgrades at Orlando's three advanced wastewater treatment plants process more sewage and gray water more effectively and reliably than ever before. As growth continues to put more demand on Florida's fresh water supplies, more communities in and...

05/01/2009


The residents of Orlando and nearby Florida communities are more likely to see lightning strike than to have their toilets run dry. Extensive high-tech upgrades at Orlando's three advanced wastewater treatment plants process more sewage and gray water more effectively and reliably than ever before.

As growth continues to put more demand on Florida's fresh water supplies, more communities in and around Orlando are counting on reclaimed water to meet their residential and business needs. Water shortages, stringent environmental protection laws, surging sewer service demand, fewer qualified workers and a virtual rate freeze are the big challenges being tackled by a smaller but smarter wastewater management team.

“It's expensive and tough to find experienced and qualified people in this business. Automation has solved that issue for us,” explained industrial automation manager, Bill Wood, as he walked the southern end of the city's Iron Bridge Regional Water Reclamation Facility. “It used to take a dozen or more operators to run this plant alone. Even though the operation has grown significantly in scope, running the plant is now more manageable and precise thanks to the vision of Orlando's public works and environmental leadership.”

The Iron Bridge plant was originally built in the 1980s to treat about 5 million gallons of wastewater per day. After several modifications and upgrades, it can now treat and reclaim up to 40 million gallons in that same 24 hours.

“The automation simplifies operators' decision making. All the information they need to run the plant is at their fingertips no matter where they are,” said Wood. Among those automation systems is an integrated Siemens automation and energy system to manage operations and power distribution throughout the plant.

Standardized on the Siemens S7-300 programmable logic controller and Siemens PROFIBUS and Industrial Ethernet networks, the automation platform controls everything from the flow of electricity to the amount of reclaimed water being safely discharged from the plant. Treated water is sent to the Little Econ River and the Orlando Wetlands Park, while pipelines also deliver purchased reclaimed water to residential neighborhoods, golf courses, citrus groves and other customers as far as 20 miles away.

“Our daily objectives focus on keeping the toilets flushing and meeting the growing demand for wastewater treatment and reclaimed water across the region,” Wood said. “We can't reach those goals without the reliability and flexibility provided by Siemens automation and communication systems.”

The eyes, ears of the plant

Iron Bridge's 320-acre operation is a series of treatment processes that must be closely monitored and managed. A PLC at the master pumping station reads real-time intake levels and signals variable frequency drives when to speed up or slow down the eight 400-hp pumps designed to handle peak loads of wastewater rushing into the facility through an 84-inch pipe.

Halfway across the plant, flow meters measure the air being pumped into aeration tanks where organic waste is consumed by bacteria. A PLC controls the air flow, records and stores data produced during the intricate, five-stage biological process known as Bardenpho.

Human machine interface touch screens located inside every process station and linked to the facility-wide Industrial Ethernet network offer operators a real-time view into every layer of the plant. SCADA software offers that same view on the laptops, desktops and even kitchen countertops of authorized plant and city personnel.

“It used to be a real juggling act for an operator to ensure that water leaving the plant through three separate exits met a variety of strict environmental standards for the river, wetlands and irrigation,” explained Wood, as he clicked on the latest plant discharge readings on his office computer. “Now coupled with the operator's expertise, the PLCs have become the eyes and ears of the plant and they have changed the way we do business,” Wood said.

Lowering operating costs

Orlando has three advanced wastewater treatment facilities and 210 lift stations, which pump sewage away from the homes and neighborhoods to Iron Bridge or one of two other plants, Water Conserv I and Water Conserv II. Orlando, like most municipalities, treated and operated each facility autonomously for decades. To reduce costs and increase efficiency, the plants were integrated using Siemens automation, WinCC and PROFIBUS and Industrial Ethernet networks.

“Rate freezes and infrastructure, inventory, and labor requirements put a real squeeze on productivity, so we had to find a solution that would benefit all of our facilities,” Wood said. “Instead of having staff dedicated to a single plant, we now share our resources across the entire enterprise.”

“As the treatment plant grows with the city, we simply can't continue to staff up. It's too costly,” said Guy Mecabe, wastewater systems manager, who has been instrumental in the deployment of the automation system and the PROFIBUS and Industrial Ethernet networks. “The reach of our networks has grown 10 times over in the last two years, as we've expanded our ability to monitor and manage the whole system 24/7 from just about anywhere using WinCC SCADA software.”

Authorized managers, operators and technicians can view the Iron Bridge plant from any one of 10 onsite Siemens HMIs or a remote computer. They can also monitor and control operations at Water Conserv I, Water Conserv II or the lift stations throughout the city without leaving the Iron Bridge plant. “Secure remote monitoring means I can respond to a trouble call in the middle of the night by simply tapping into any of the treatment facilities from home or wherever I am. It's amazing,” said Mecabe

“Because we can't physically push the buttons that start, stop and reset processes, we've called on the best technology to do it automatically and reliably. It's just one of many new cost-cutting practices we've initiated that are really making a difference on the bottom line,” said Wood.

Powerful savings

“A lightning strike could instantly cut power to this plant, but all the Siemens PLCs and networks feature uninterruptible power supply redundancy. The controllers signal an outage, the generators come online and the plant never misses a beat,” said Wood, He noted that Iron Bridge has been struck before because of its location in a central Florida region known as the “lightning capital of the U.S.”

The Iron Bridge plant is a big consumer of power with a monthly Progress Energy bill that averages $180,000. But the question of the bill's accuracy long nagged Wood and his counterparts. As part of a re-rating plant upgrade, utility-grade power meters were installed at the plant's power intake and at each of the facility's switchboards and MCCs (motor control centers).

“Until now, we had no way to verify the accuracy of the electric bill. The Siemens metering, linked to our networks, offers real-time consumption data and monthly peace of mind, as well as an effective way to identify the equipment power hogs in the treatment process,” said Wood, referring to the PLC-based system's ability to monitor and enhance power consumption at the device level. “That's a powerful capability that we fully plan to leverage in the months and years to come.”

Code to Success

There's no secret to the successful control evolution at the Iron Bridge plant. There's no hidden blueprint. It's more like an open book. Bill Wood, Guy Mecabe and the team are more than happy to share their experience with other industry professionals like Pat Brechbill, a wastewater treatment specialist with the Cobb County system near Atlanta who recently toured Iron Bridge.

“I'm most impressed with the amount of system information and feedback reports available and how it's easily and quickly displayed using Siemens HMIs and WinCC,” said Brechbill. “A single purple PROFIBUS network cable has made wiring, maintaining and troubleshooting the plant easier and faster than a conventional facility. All in all, Orlando has one of the most innovative and efficient systems I've ever encountered.”

“I've seen too many treatment facilities spend lots of money on upgrades only to end up with outdated and patchwork solutions,” explained Wood. “So if we can help steer a community in the right direction, why not offer them a good look at what we're doing here with automation.”

What Wood and Orlando have done is design an upgraded treatment system with the future in mind. Every piece of Siemens automation and control equipment and software %%MDASSML%% from the PLCs and HMI touch screens to the WinCC that provides the graphical, insightful views into the plant %%MDASSML%% is modular in design so we can keep adding new functionality and applications along the way,” said Wood. “We could run this entire plant on two Siemens PLCs. But we've put a PLC in every process station to minimize our risk through a distributed architecture that's given us the ability to do whatever we need to do when demands change in the future.”

Even the minimal hardwired functionality in the plant is future-proofed with a recent addition to the plant's automation platform %%MDASSML%% a multipurpose workhorse from Siemens called SIMOCODE, which has dramatically reduced the wiring required in the motor control centers at Iron Bridge.

“You can see how clean this cabinet is compared to the elaborate conduit chases with cables running back and forth in control rooms like this,” said Hester. “Instead a SIMOCODE has been placed in each bucket as a piece of I/O that can easily be added and viewed on the network. It's all part of a totally integrated automation solution that works seamlessly.”

Community-minded rewards

For Bill Wood, Guy Mecabe and the Orlando team, wastewater treatment is all about protecting the community and the environment. “Most people aren't thinking about everything that goes into safely returning treated water back into the environment,” said Mecabe. “It includes state-of-the-art automation that runs reliably for weeks, months and years enabling us to put clear, clean water back into the aquifer with confidence.”

“This is the product of our treatment plant,” Wood said, holding up a beaker full of clean water bound for the Little Econ River. “Siemens automation helps give us the confidence and information we need to secure the most important ROI of all %%MDASSML%% the return of clean water to our rivers, streams and irrigation systems across the region. That's special treatment.”

The Iron Bridge wastewater treatment plant in Orlando exists in harmony with then nature around it. It also recycles water and wastewater effectively to meet the demands of a growing region.

Iron Bridge managers credit the installation of a Siemens system, including its SIMCODE switching system, for reducing plant wiring and increasing flexibility for the future growth of the facility.



Manufacturing Summit goes virtual June 30

The 2009 Plant Engineering Manufacturing Summit delivered a lot of information to a lot of people, but not everyone could make it to Charleston, SC. So on June 30, Plant Engineering is bringing the Manufacturing Summit to a place everyone can attend -- the Internet.

The first Virtual manufacturing Summit will be hosted through www.PlantEngineering.com. Sponsored by IBM and Infor, the Virtual Summit will feature the same content tracks and the same presentations as the live Summit, but in a unique format that will allow Virtual Summit attendees to view the presentations from their desktop.

“This is an exciting new way for those people who value more knowledge about manufacturing trends but couldn’t make it to our live event to reap all the benefits of the Manufacturing Summit,” said Plant Engineering editor Bob Vavra. “The Virtual Summit is an exciting extension of that great event.”

Go to www.PlantEngineering.com for more information or to register to attend the 2009 Plant Engineering Virtual Manufacturing Summit.

Manufacturing Summit goes virtual June 30

The 2009 Plant Engineering Manufacturing Summit delivered a lot of information to a lot of people, but not everyone could make it to Charleston, SC. So on June 30, Plant Engineering is bringing the Manufacturing Summit to a place everyone can attend -- the Internet.

The first Virtual manufacturing Summit will be hosted through www.PlantEngineering.com. Sponsored by IBM and Infor, the Virtual Summit will feature the same content tracks and the same presentations as the live Summit, but in a unique format that will allow Virtual Summit attendees to view the presentations from their desktop.

“This is an exciting new way for those people who value more knowledge about manufacturing trends but couldn’t make it to our live event to reap all the benefits of the Manufacturing Summit,” said Plant Engineering editor Bob Vavra. “The Virtual Summit is an exciting extension of that great event.”

Go to www.PlantEngineering.com for more information or to register to attend the 2009 Plant Engineering Virtual Manufacturing Summit.

Manufacturing Summit goes virtual June 30

The 2009 Plant Engineering Manufacturing Summit delivered a lot of information to a lot of people, but not everyone could make it to Charleston, SC. So on June 30, Plant Engineering is bringing the Manufacturing Summit to a place everyone can attend -- the Internet.

The first Virtual manufacturing Summit will be hosted through www.PlantEngineering.com. Sponsored by IBM and Infor, the Virtual Summit will feature the same content tracks and the same presentations as the live Summit, but in a unique format that will allow Virtual Summit attendees to view the presentations from their desktop.

“This is an exciting new way for those people who value more knowledge about manufacturing trends but couldn’t make it to our live event to reap all the benefits of the Manufacturing Summit,” said Plant Engineering editor Bob Vavra. “The Virtual Summit is an exciting extension of that great event.”

Go to www.PlantEngineering.com for more information or to register to attend the 2009 Plant Engineering Virtual Manufacturing Summit.

Manufacturing Summit goes virtual June 30

The 2009 Plant Engineering Manufacturing Summit delivered a lot of information to a lot of people, but not everyone could make it to Charleston, SC. So on June 30, Plant Engineering is bringing the Manufacturing Summit to a place everyone can attend -- the Internet.

The first Virtual manufacturing Summit will be hosted through www.PlantEngineering.com. Sponsored by IBM and Infor, the Virtual Summit will feature the same content tracks and the same presentations as the live Summit, but in a unique format that will allow Virtual Summit attendees to view the presentations from their desktop.

“This is an exciting new way for those people who value more knowledge about manufacturing trends but couldn’t make it to our live event to reap all the benefits of the Manufacturing Summit,” said Plant Engineering editor Bob Vavra. “The Virtual Summit is an exciting extension of that great event.”

Go to www.PlantEngineering.com for more information or to register to attend the 2009 Plant Engineering Virtual Manufacturing Summit.

Manufacturing Summit goes virtual June 30

The 2009 Plant Engineering Manufacturing Summit delivered a lot of information to a lot of people, but not everyone could make it to Charleston, SC. So on June 30, Plant Engineering is bringing the Manufacturing Summit to a place everyone can attend -- the Internet.

The first Virtual manufacturing Summit will be hosted through www.PlantEngineering.com. Sponsored by IBM and Infor, the Virtual Summit will feature the same content tracks and the same presentations as the live Summit, but in a unique format that will allow Virtual Summit attendees to view the presentations from their desktop.

“This is an exciting new way for those people who value more knowledge about manufacturing trends but couldn’t make it to our live event to reap all the benefits of the Manufacturing Summit,” said Plant Engineering editor Bob Vavra. “The Virtual Summit is an exciting extension of that great event.”

Go to www.PlantEngineering.com for more information or to register to attend the 2009 Plant Engineering Virtual Manufacturing Summit.



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