Water supply case
A Gateway Solution for Operations Monitoring of Water Supply Facilities
For vital infrastructure like water supply facilities, availability and reliability are essential to successful water processing. However, recently the water supply industry has been faced with issues concerning maintenance, security, and the cost of management of their facilities.
For small-scale water supply businesses in Japan, maintenance costs have hampered their ability to operate properly, resulting in increased desire to search for remote maintenance solutions which cover a large area of land. At the same time, communication specifications for data from various vendors differ for each site. Linking this data, often based on vendor-specific protocols, into one system is quite complicated. For a system which monitors water intake, water supply, water level, water quality, and other important parameters for the water supply industry, the vendors that supply the machinery use specialized system integrators, and the system specifications often remain undisclosed. This limits future system improvements by anyone other than the original system integrator (also known as a vendor-lock in). To meet these challenges, the need for standardized software and open systems is growing day by day.
With open systems, maintenance can be performed by any system integrator, which lowers operational costs and raises system efficiency. While open networks sometimes suffer from increased vulnerability to cyberattacks, strengthened authentication and encryption using OPC UA offers reliable secure systems. Making a remote maintenance system that is both open and secure is possible by using DeviceGateway.
The Takebishi Corporation’s DeviceGateway is an IoT Gateway unit which supports interfaces such as OPC UA and MQTT, and can communicate with over 320 series of devices like PLCs and sensors. In addition to SCADA, it is also able to connect to various cloud services such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, allowing its utilization in the social infrastructure field which intimately affects our daily lives. This article presents a use case of DeviceGateway within the Water Supply environment.
An Overview of a Remote Monitoring system for Manhole Pumps
In principle, drainage is deployed by transporting sewage from a higher to a lower level in a process known as a gravity sewer system, but in difficult terrains such as mountenous areas, there are points of steep incline before reaching the processing facility. Manhole pumps are indespensible in cases like this, where sewage must be transported to a higher level. Additionally, these specific geographic areas require regular maintenance, which entails large cost and manpower. To realise fast maintenance capability, the operating status of the manhole pumps scattered around the region needs to be monitored to detect abnormalities and tackle malfunctions proactively.
Using DeviceGateway with an LTE connection, information such as water level, pump operating status, and error information can be sent from the PLC which controls the manhole pump to the host server using OPC UA or MQTT protocol. Communication only occurs in the case of abnormal changes in values, so the LTE communication cost can also be reduced. From the host server, monitoring is performed using standard SCADA or dashboards. Since DeviceGateway supports nearly all vendors and series of PLCs, there is no need to change the control devices and therefore a wide ranged real-time facility monitoring system can be realised with the existing machinery. Additionally, high-level security can be realized using authentication and encryption from OPC UA and MQTT.
Until now, water supply facilities mainly used vendor-specific systems and it was difficult to reduce the cost of replacing or upgrading the facility. With DeviceGateway, standard SCADA and dashboard products can be used in an open system architecture, so any engineer can perform maintenance and replacement activities, driving down the operational cost. In addition to being open safe data communication is also supported, which reduces the risk of cyberattacks which have been growing in number in recent years.
With this system configuration DeviceGateway solves the problems that have been surrounding vital infrastructure such as water supply facilities for many years.