North Port, Florida utilities department depends on SCADA and remote alarm notification
Located on the Gulf of Mexico between Tampa and Sarasota, North Port, Fla., has 80 miles of freshwater canals and is the only city in the Florida with an entire 8,000-acre state forest inside its city limits. The city’s residents, visitors and many businesses are dependent on the Water and Wastewater Utilities Department.
Water and wastewater utilities
Responsible for the city’s water and wastewater infrastructure, North Port Utilities manages 115 lift stations, 30 miles of sewer gravity lines, 70 miles of sewer lines, 3,000 manholes, 1,632 fire hydrants, 307 miles of water transmission lines, 3,000 valves, booster stations and storage tanks at two wastewater plants and one water plant. Visualization software, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)—a computer-based system that analyzes data in real time to control equipment—helps the city’s utilities monitor lift stations and both water and wastewater plants, which drastically reduces the frequency of visits to remote sites.
For approximately 13 years, the city has relied on SCADA and an alarm notification software solution to push critical alarm and event details to remote workers in any abnormal operating conditions. Three years ago, Robert Davies, an instrumentation and controls supervisor, joined the team. He oversees all electronics, electrical maintenance and SCADA for the city’s water and wastewater plants and sewer lift stations. After thoroughly reviewing the existing setup, including hardware and software, and bringing the city’s new wastewater plant online, he updated the water and wastewater plants’ servers and upgraded to the latest versions of a SCADA system and remote alarm notification software. This ensured the visualization and notification software that manage the utilities’ sites were running on the most robust products.
In his supervisory role, Davies is intimately involved with servicing and maintaining their SCADA applications. Davies is also responsible for the configuration of the alarm software which includes setting up alarm escalation. For example, the water plant is set up on a six-hour, day-and-night schedule because when the plant is staffed during the day the system does not send notifications. However, when the plant is offline, the remote alarm notification software becomes active and sends alarms, if necessary, such as a power failure. The water and wastewater sites run 24 hours but are staffed for 16.
“Having a remote alarm notification software is our ‘eyes-on’ during the eight hours when the plants are not staffed,” Davies said.
The utilities staff is using the alarm software to receive alerts via SMS, voice and email. Davies is currently in the process of implementing the software’s mobile app to streamline decision making through push notifications. This will allow the team to quickly see what is wrong, send an acknowledgment, and monitor alarm condition changes in real-time, right from a smartphone.
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