Project For: American Water
Largest Publicly Traded U.S. Water/Wastewater Company Benefits from Enterprise Solution
More organizations are bringing Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) together to assist in business decisions at every level of the organization. American Water teamed up with Flexware Innovation and Automated Controls Concepts (ACC) to create an Ignition ecosystem for SCADA/HMI standards, central data collection and analysis, and integration with other backend systems to support data-driven decision-making across the company. This project was the first and largest-scale standardization of their operational technology systems, and consisted of converting an outdated SCADA system to a modern system that is ISA 101-compliant. Ignition Perspective and Cirrus Link MQTT modules were included as key parts of this solution.
The first area that American Water wanted to improve was the lack of SCADA/HMI standards at each of their sites. American Water has hundreds of water and wastewater locations across the United States. These systems were on different platforms and utilized different types of colors and symbols to control the processes. The company needed a way to normalize safe and typical operating conditions so that when an abnormal event occurs, the operator has the pertinent information to help make the correct decisions. However, with different standards deployed at these plants, the end user would need to be familiar with all the different symbols and styles across the enterprise to be effective in each of these systems.
Another goal was creating a single portal to view key performance indicators from all of the plants. To attain Digital Transformation across the organization, there must be a standard way to get the data from the systems to a central location at the enterprise level. American Water had multiple different systems that contained data for its site or region, but there was no way to view that data without direct access. Even then, comparing data across systems became a difficult task. There was no central location to aggregate all the information needed for data-driven business decisions.
Finally, American Water faced the challenge of bringing in data from external systems such as an asset management system and Geographic Information System (GIS). American Water needed a platform that could not only pull operational data up to a central location but also bridge the gap to other organizational information systems. This would allow American Water to further take advantage of the operational data by providing more definition and context than it could provide on its own.
To solve each of these unique challenges, Flexware and ACC worked together to leverage their existing expertise with the Ignition platform and the water & wastewater industry to create a system that is robust and flexible for the whole enterprise.
Perspective was used to create a SCADA/HMI platform standard across all American Water sites. The standard was built around the ISA 101 High-Performance HMI practices to highlight abnormalities in the system and increase operator awareness. Styling, color standards, and theme guides were created to promote a common look and feel across processes, sites, and systems. This allows operators to easily understand new systems. In addition, a library of process objects was created to accelerate legacy systems as a jumpstart to their Ignition conversion and development process.
To create a central place to view the data, an enterprise portal was built. The enterprise portal organizes the data being pulled from the local systems and displays it in an intuitive way that is easily consumed by end users from multiple disciplines. This portal serves as the single place to aggregate and analyze the data. Tools have been developed to allow deeper analysis at any level of the business. The end user can compare cost savings and efficiencies across the sites to help drive informed decisions.
American Water also utilized Ignition’s vast integration capabilities to interface with other systems. Ignition is securely moving operational data from the SCADA implementations at the sites to the portal using Cirrus Link’s MQTT modules. Data is also being integrated from existing OSI PI servers using Ignition’s OPC COM DA Module to communicate directly with that infrastructure. Finally, Ignition is using REST API calls to communicate with American Water’s internal GIS system for asset information.
With limited training, the American Water staff resolved each of the problems mentioned above. Several SCADA conversions to Ignition have been executed, or are in flight, using the SCADA/HMI platform and standards developed. Data from new and existing deployments is being sent up to the enterprise portal and organized for consumption. Additionally, the integrations with the other systems have been put into place to give the operational data even more context and drive deeper analysis. American Water now has more efficient decision-making capabilities, and their process for adapting and making changes is seamless. The ability to run Ignition on anything that has a web browser helps save time, and provides them with adaptability and a lower cost to access SCADA.
This project is a work in progress. What has been achieved thus far will lay the groundwork for future integrations. As sites are converted and more data is available, the power of this system will continue to grow. Continued functionality is under development to create predictive analysis for when assets are being depleted, in-depth alarming at each level of the infrastructure, cost analysis for processes across systems, and more.
DEPLOY DATE: December 2021 (Go-Live Date) but continual development
- Tags: 50,000+ and growing
- Screens: 100s and growing at the SCADA level
- Clients: (5) load-balanced front-end servers to serve up 100s of Perspective sessions simultaneously at the enterprise level
- Alarms: 10,000+ and growing at the SCADA level
- Devices used: 100s of PLCs of many different types
- Architectures used: Hub and Spoke/Scale Out Architecture
- Databases used: (2) Microsoft SQL Server at the enterprise and growing at the SCADA level
- Historical data logged: Millions of data points, and growing
Reese Tyson is an Ignition Team Lead at Flexware Innovation where he has a vast background of industry experience ranging from water and wastewater, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, etc. You may best know him from when he competed live at the 2021 Ignition Community Conference Build-a-Thon! Reese’s current role consists of architecting large Ignition systems, creating world-class Ignition solutions, managing a team of Ignition developers, and staying involved in the Ignition community.Created By:
Flexware Innovation is the go-to engineering firm for forward-thinking manufacturers that need to integrate their business and production systems to maximize their resources. Founded in 1996, our highly-skilled teams of dedicated professionals work side-by-side with customers to leverage technology to solve real business problems by providing best-in-class software development, automation engineering, manufacturing systems integration (MES, HMI/SCADA, & ERP), business intelligence solutions, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and specialized product development.
Website: flexwareinnovation.comProject For:
American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. American Water employs more than 6,400 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 14 million people in 24 states. American Water serves residential homes and businesses through its regulated subsidiaries, as well as perform contract operations for military bases and municipalities that own their utility systems. The company develops and implements solutions to meet the country’s many water challenges. amwater.comIndustry: