Home Fault Tolerance Updating SCADA Systems for Modern Water Management

Updating SCADA Systems for Modern Water Management

by Chris Johnson, E-Merge Systems

We at E-Merge Systems provide systems integration in industrial automation for a variety of clients from pharmaceuticals to water treatment. Our company was founded more than 20 years ago and has grown to more than 25 engineers spread across five offices in three states. Our engineers have a deep level of expertise in industrial automation, from panel design, functional description specification documentation development, controls and SCADA programming design and development, industrial IT infrastructure planning and configuring, to onsite commissioning.

New Water SCADA Systems and New Requirements

E-Merge Systems was tasked with upgrading the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for a municipal client. The client has a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WTP) and Wastewater Collection system (WCS). These systems monitor and control the logistical transfer of wastewater to the municipality’s treatment sites and the treatment process at the WTP.

Both the plant and collection SCADA systems are housed within the WTP and operated from a control room inside the plant. The SCADA systems are also accessed remotely by municipality’s personnel to monitor the collection and treatment processes. The legacy system consisted of multiple standalone Windows servers for the SCADA, remote desktop and historian services on both systems.

Upgrading the system introduced several new requirements for reliability and fault tolerance. The SCADA software package that the municipality uses recommends having multiple servers that sync together in an active/standby configuration for highly critical systems. This configuration provides a layer of software redundancy but can often be difficult to configure and manage. The Public Utilities department also wanted to be able to easily manage the IT infrastructure themselves.

Finding a Reliable Solution and Reducing Complexity

With the help of E-Merge, the Stratus ftServer solution has proven to be an excellent fit for the client. With ftServer, there is no need for specialized training or experience to keep the system running, which has decreased the involvement of dedicated IT resources for managing the SCADA services.

The hardware fault tolerance that the ftServer provides not only increased the redundancy and uptime of the system, it also reduced the overall footprint of their SCADA architecture. With the ftServer and the automation uptime layer, the vendor software redundancy can be replaced with lock-step hardware failover. This reduced the overall complexity of the system, making it easier to troubleshoot, and minimizing the software cost of utilizing multiple servers and software packages.

Due to the reliability Stratus provides, the municipality was able to combine the remote desktop and historian services between the plant and collections systems. Not only did this decrease the number of virtual machines and corresponding license costs, it also decreased the overall number of servers that had to be managed, furthermore shrinking the dedicated IT resources needed from the municipality.

The updated system provides a more robust platform with a lower IT burden for monitoring and maintenance, which is increasingly important in industries with critical SCADA infrastructure like water/waste water management.

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