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Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 82 / 26
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Central monitoring increases water supply reliability

In terms of length and capacity, the Italian water company Acquedotto Pugliese is an example of an impressive and exemplary work of hydraulic engineering. Its transition to an integrated and automatically controlled system is a success, and currently 650 plants and 3,500 sensors are all controlled remotely.

An extensive system for water withdrawal, conduits and outstations covers a vast area with high population density.

IN TERMS OF SIZE AND CAPACITY, the Apulia Waterworks (Acquedotto Pugliese or AQP) is one of the most impressive waterworks in the world. It’s an extensive system of plants for water withdrawal, conduits and branches that covers a vast geographical area with high population density. Implementing and managing telecontrol for this extensive system has required a progressive changeover from manual controls to integrated control, based on automatic systems with intelligent valves, automated systems in plant conduits and remote network control.

Plant automation is local, while supervision is handled through a central control center that receives all the necessary information related to plant operation. The supervision system is dedicated to interface the automation systems, management systems and control plant operations.

“Currently, we telecontrol 650 plants and 3,500 sensors,” said Vito Bitetto, AQP telecontrol manager. “Thanks to the implementation of the SISMAP portal (Supervision, Information, and Monitoring System of the Apulia Waterworks), we now have access to real-time connections with the plants through a series of SCADA sections, each dedicated to a specific environment.”

“The creation of a platform of this kind puts AQP in an ideal position for the future. In terms of hardware, the use of a network architecture solution based on Siemens technology means full remote access, with high remote-connection availability thanks to path redundancy and data buffering at stations in case of temporary disconnections. And, above all, this is a flexible solution with a single backbone for industrial installations and server stations,” he added.

AQP runs the waterworks with integrated management of the water cycle from withdrawal to collection, supplying drinking water in an extensive distribution network and including wastewater drainage, treatment and disposal.

SISMAP information portal

Using the SISMAP portal, AQP personnel have access to archived information, and can display trends, reports, and anything else that could be useful for optimizing the performance of the system as a whole. This optimizes system management and enables the company to program and plan jobs efficiently in the most intelligent way

“Thanks also to SISMAP supervision, the optimized network management plan resulted in a decrease of approximately 42 million cubic meters of water being fed into the AQP waterworks from 2009 to 2012. This had an extremely advantageous cost-benefit impact on the entire system,” said Bitetto.

Choosing a technology solution

Today, the level in tanks is always known, leading to a significant reduction in the risk of spillage. One of the biggest advantages is having an integrated solution in terms of installations, devices, and software environments, which all contribute to the final solution. Previously, AQP operators had to go into the field every day to read meters and to measure levels and flow on the spot. Calculations could only be based on the exact moment in which the operator took the reading. Today on the other hand, the flow rate can be read every second to precisely calculate the volume of water flowing through a conduit and used in any built-up area.

The competitive advantages deriving from the implementation of a sophisticated telecontrol system include full knowledge of the network, also when planning new plants. The optimization and elimination of waste and a reduction in service-resumption times are further positive aspects.

TeleControl Professional is a powerful Siemens solution specifically designed for telecontrol on suburban networks. When equipping the service system of major waterworks, sustainability is of primary importance.

“With TeleControl Professional we solved the problem of undesired access to data and telecontrolled stations and simultaneously benefited from the system’s modularity in the field,” said Antonio Baccaro, Siemens Italy project manager.

Telecontrol technology helps rationalize the system and introduce a modular structure for future implementations. AQP also wanted to acquire data from non-Siemens stations. Using WinCC SCADA, they were able to create modular systems at the SCADA level for full modularity, both in the field and at a central SCADA level. Currently, the telecontrol system manages around 600 stations for AQP, of which 490 are controlled with GSM connected to two modems, 100 are telecontrolled in OPC mode, and 20 are telecontrolled in GPRS for water treatment.

For the communications interface, 24 TIM4R-IE communication modules were installed for suburban water services, with another eight for the telecontrol system. Each interface acquires data from 20-25 stations in the field on average. AQP requirements also include integration at a higher level, in other words making all the data displayable and usable. “On the basis of the specifications provided by AQP, we created the customized SISMAP IT portal, to which our TeleControl Professional, WinCC SCADA, and WinCC OPC send data,” Baccaro added.

Critical system features

The critical aspects highlighted by the AQP include station shutdown in the case of a blackout with the risk of data loss. TeleControl Professional eliminates these critical points, providing measures to prevent data loss.

Each transmission module has a large memory for several thousand data frames. Downtimes in the transmission link can then be bridged. To enable subsequent and correct archiving of process data in the control system, all data frames are assigned with a time stamp at their place of origin. The entire network is synchronized automatically.

Today, AQP is a point of reference for operating procedures used to manage the integrated waterworks system. In terms of the tasks for which it is responsible, AQP reflects the ideals and value of protecting and preserving water resources, taking up the gauntlet in a challenge for the qualitative and technological development of the region in which it operates.

Among other things, Siemens is responsible for the implementation of Sitrans pressure and flow sensors, plus Scalance active and passive networking installations. The system has made good use of the major evolution in active installations. Because the Scalance S router has secure functions, telecontrol can be implemented in GPRS. The Scalance X500 top-of-the-range series is an active switch that manages telecommunications at a control-center level for connections between all the installations and telecontrol servers. Simatic S7-300 controllers were used for the PLC part of the system.

Dana Deutscher is Communication Manager for Siemens Industry Automation.

Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 82 / 26
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