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A Process Control System for the 21st Century

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The Ocean County Utilities Authority (Authority) in New Jersey owns and operates three large treatment plants ranging in size from 20 mgd to 32 mgd. These treatment plants serve a population in excess of 500,000. The facilities were constructed in the 1970s and had centralized process control computers to control and monitor the treatment processes. With a need to remain competitive the Authority realizes that process control systems represent a key technological investment; and will replace the existing systems with new “best-available-technology”.

The New Jersey Local Public Contracts Law (N.J.S.A 40A:11) requires competitive bidding and non-proprietary specifications preparation. The original treatment plants were constructed under separate contracts; and as such, received control systems from different vendors. The Northern Water Pollution Control Facility was constructed with an Autocon system, the Central WPCF has a Honeywell system and the Southern WPCF has a Bailey-Fisher & Porter system. Over the twenty-five years since these systems went on-line various upgrades have been performed, which have introduced a wide assortment of programmable logic controllers of various make and vintage. These “islands-of-automation” provide for very little expansion/modification capability; virtually no connectivity between elements, and a significant maintenance and equipment overlap.

A goal of the Authority is to install a system that conveys information over a fiber optic data highway, allows full process monitoring and control from a central control room, and also integrates with: collection system SCADA system, Enterprise Resource Planning software SAP R/3, Laboratory Information Management System and Geographic Information System ESRI ArcInfo. Initially, the system will integrate with an Industrial SQL Server and the SAP R/3 server. Future integration efforts will allow sharing of information between other information technology systems. By implementing an advanced and highly coordinated controls system, it will provide the Authority with extremely reliable data gathering capability, improved emergency response capability, simpler and more efficient SCADA system expansion, increased ability to protect public health and safety, and virtually eliminate any vulnerability risk.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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