An advanced management of water services

Two water purifiers in the Marche region provide an excellent example of water service management, thanks to a modern control and supervision system, combined with a solution which guarantees high availability of the plants and business continuity

by Laura Di Jorio

Multiservizi is one of the main concerns in charge of managing water services in the Marche region. Plants managed pertain to a network of aqueducts stretching over 5,200 km, with 2,000 km of sewage system and 41 purifiers. Users served are 220,000 and the volume of water invoiced adds up to about 28 million cubic metres. The 41 purifying plants process altogether about 42 million cubic metres of waste water of domestic and industrial origin. The main purifiers are found in Ancona, Falconara, Senigallia, Jesi, Fabriano, Camerano and Castelbellino, all of them sized to serve more than of 10,000 inhabitant equivalents (IE).

The revamping project for a sizeable updating
At the turn of the century supervision and remote control systems were installed for four purifiers in the Marche territory in Falconara, Senigallia, Jesi and Castelbellino. In 2015, Multiservizi carried out revamping of these plants, which will soon be joined by the Matelica and Fabriano plants. As Damiano Brega, manager of the Water Treatment division of Loccioni Group dealing with electric projects and software development, explains: “After so many years the hardware which supported the supervision and remote control systems looked rather outdated, and so did the SCADA software release”. Multiservizi therefore entrusted Loccioni Group with a sizeable update which implied the replacement of the host machines, updates of the GE iFix versions from the outdated ones to the 5.5 version, an update in some cases of the PLCs with redundant CPU versions, an upgrade of the controllers’ firmware and the replacement of part of the I/O peripherals. The update of iFIX to the 5.5 version is only temporary: the software of the Ancona Terminal Server will soon be updated too and all the machines will then be upgraded to the latest 5.8 release.

Each plant is managed by a PLC and has its own SCADA server
Each of the plants is managed by a PLC which deals with automation logics, while the supervision and management of the alarms are entrusted to GE iFix, GE’s SCADA distributed and supported in Italy by ServiTecno, which takes care of data recording and of providing the operator interface (HMI) used both for visualizing the system and for configuring parameters. PLCs are in charge of executing the automation functions. They manage all inbound and outbound systems, both analog and digital: they read the states of plant users, command user activations, obtain measurements from sensors, read and command the inverters’ working frequency. Finally, they communicate data to the SCADA system using Ethernet interfaces. Each of the plants has its own SCADA server which manages roughly 10.000 tags. The server then communicates, using a private Multiservizi network, with the central Server Client Terminal in Ancona, where the status of all the different iFix supervisors in use at Multiservizi may be viewed. The plants are supervised locally, except the one in Castelbellino, managed remotely from Jesi. The Ancona plant works round the clock and deals with the general supervision as well as with the control of the plants whenever they are not supervised locally.

Focus on plant availability
While in the Falconara and Senigallia plants the SCADA servers are equipped with a cold-backup system, in the Jesi purifier an advanced system manages the plant’s availability. An everRun node has been installed here: this Stratus platform is dedicated to maximizing the plant’s availability, and even this is distributed and supported by ServiTecno. In this plant the machines where SCADA is physically installed are two, managed automatically by everRun. Thanks to everRun the system is fault tolerant, and it can function non-stop even in case of a fault with one of the two hosts (the applications runs on two virtual machines). If a machine fails, the application keeps on running on the other machine without any interruption or data loss. Likewise if a component fails, it is replaced by the functioning component of the second system. No more downtimes have occurred due to the technological part of the infrastructure. The Jesi system is also entrusted with the management of the SCADA in Castelbellino, which is not supervised locally. Thanks to a secure connection using the corporate wireless WAN, data gathered by the PLC operating locally in Castelbellino are sent to Jesi, where the hosts run both the local plant’s SCADA and the one dedicated to the Castelbellino purifier. It was therefore possible to reduce costs, decreasing the number of host machines to be purchased and centralizing monitoring operations. In Jesi and Castelbellino the fault tolerance is not limited to the SCADA part, it has also been implemented for the local automation. In these two purifiers the PLCs have been recently updated too, and they are now equipped with a double CPU which allows management of redundancy via software. During the next two years a system similar to the Jesi-Castelbellino tandem will be created for the Fabriano and Matelica purifiers.