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 User Solutions
Water Utility Successfully Standardizes
Automation Practices
This utility standardized and defined best practices for their applications, improving operations while saving time and money.
 By David Reagan, Helix Water District
Industrial automation installations come in many shapes and sizes. Applications vary from standalone machines up to large processes,
and the operating organization may have just one maintenance person or field an entire engineering group. But a common theme is the need for standardization to streamline design efforts, simplify support, and reduce costs.
Figure 1: Inside a typical pump station.
Helix Water District realized many benefits by standardizing on Automation- Direct products and best programming practices for this new pump station, and they then applied similar concepts to retrofitted stations.
As these control projects are designed or upgraded, the standardization challenge spans many disciplines. Process and equipment control schemes, design and engineering practices, hardware and software product selections, and programming and configuration methods all play interrelated roles— and standardization efforts must thus integrate all these and other areas.
There is no single best method for executing these tasks because of the number of variables for each area. Furthermore, many automation projects are implemented and upgraded over years or decades, adding to the difficulty.
Because end users don’t always have access to large engineering departments able to churn out optimized standards and procedures, they must look at other options. This article shows how a water utility with a moderately-sized staff was able to recognize the increasing difficulty and expense of supporting numerous operating sites of varying vintages, and to then internally take action to implement standardization. Just a few practical steps resulted in many benefits for new and retrofit projects, and for ongoing operations.
A Water District Controls its Future
Helix Water District is a public water district in east San Diego County, California. Helix’s operations include a 106 million of gallons- per-day water treatment plant, along with 25 pump stations supplying about 270,000 customers. As is
typical for these operations, the pumps stations are geographically distributed over a wide area (Figure 1).
A supervisor and four technicians support the
existing supervisory control and data
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