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acquisition (SCADA) system. The technicians use their control system and electrical expertise to work on motors, instruments, controls, and the networked SCADA system.
With some installed assets over 40 years
old and showing their age, the Helix engineering department created a 10-year capital improvement plan which included pump station rebuilds and
the replacement of several of the oldest motor control centers (MCCs). These projects were typically performed by engaging outside design and contracting entities to execute the detailed work.
Previous experiences had informed the SCADA group that even for straightforward MCC replacements, each design consultant might choose different equipment and ways of doing
the work, even as they complied with the general specifications. This problem extended to the associated controls and theory of operation. These variations from site to site made it difficult for the SCADA group to maintain and troubleshoot
the systems.
For these reasons, the SCADA group proactively teamed up with their internal engineering department and an external electrical engineering firm to ensure standardization of their upcoming projects.
Template for Success
The goal of the teaming effort was to create an MCC design template that could be retrofitted at all current pump stations and implemented for any new stations. This template would include sufficient detail to ensure a highly standardized result for the design, hardware, and software—but with enough flexibility to adapt to field variations.
Existing sites generally used MCCs with automation components installed within them for
a compact installation minimizing field wiring. This concept was desirable moving forward for new installations. However, for retrofit locations the new automation elements also had to be arranged so they could be installed into existing MCCs. Because
pump stations come in various sizes, the MCC and automation components also had to accommodate different size motors, varying pump quantities, and sometimes optional I/O signals.
After a detailed review, the team specified
the most crucial automation items without allowing substitution. This included the core AutomationDirect programmable logic controllers (PLCs), input/output (I/O) modules, human-machine interfaces (HMIs), and associated components. AutomationDirect
was the preferred vendor for other more commodity-oriented components, but
substitutions were allowed.
The resulting standardized layout was a compact arrangement of terminal blocks, power distribution, and PLC components that could fit in any typical MCC while still providing plenty of working space (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Inside a typical retrofitted PLC panel.
Retrofitting standardized PLC panels into MCCs allows Helix technicians to more easily troubleshoot and maintain their control systems, as well as stock fewer parts while remaining ready to deal with any issues.
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Editor's Note
New Product Focus
- Expaded communications and analog I/O capabilities for the
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      Consistent components and designs enable Helix technicians to be instantly familiar with the automation at any pump station, making it easier to troubleshoot and maintain the control systems. They can stock fewer parts at the maintenance office and in their trucks, yet still be prepared to deal with any issues in the field.
   User Solutions | Issue 44
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