Ignition Increases Flexibility, Lowers Costs for Two Water Utilities

Improved Data Visibility, Reporting, Energy Usage, and More

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When Park City Water in Utah needed a new system for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) and human-machine interface (HMI), it picked the same solution chosen by its neighbor, Mountain Regional Water (MRW) District.

The two utilities collaborate on projects often, share some resources, and even share data now that they both use Ignition by Inductive Automation® — an industrial application platform with tools for building solutions in HMI, SCADA, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Both MRW and Park City have seen significant improvements since switching from their previous SCADA systems to Ignition. MRW saves more than $400,000 per year on energy with greater control from Ignition. Park City saves the equivalent of one full-time employee by using Ignition to automate its reports to a state agency. Both utilities plan to do more with Ignition in the future. And operators are becoming more engaged with the data at both organizations, creating their own screens in Ignition.

Ignition was implemented at both utilities by system integration company SKM. Based in Bountiful, Utah, SKM operates all over the western United States. “Both utilities need to see data, track the data very closely, and store large amounts of data,” said Allen Rogers, a principal and project manager at SKM. “They wanted the data to help them make better decisions, run their operations more efficiently, and save energy. Being able to track everything in their systems was key to all that. And both utilities are constantly expanding. I knew we needed a SCADA system that allowed for growth and could handle a lot of tags, without the need to go back and relicense things. Ignition was a great fit for both Mountain Regional and Park City.” Using Ignition, SKM has built several solutions for both utilities.

No Limits

Ignition’s unlimited licensing model is perfect for the growing utilities. “We needed a new HMI/SCADA system primarily because the one we were using was difficult to expand,” said Doug Evans, water & energy manager for MRW. “Every time we wanted to add a site or expand our water system, we needed to acquire new licenses. We wanted a SCADA system that could provide everything we needed in one package. Ignition is a system that can grow with us.”

The number of SCADA tags for each utility jumped sharply with Ignition. MRW went from 5,000 tags to more than 90,000. Park City went from 8,000 to 130,000. “We took them from looking through a peephole into their systems, to having a nice bay window,” said SKM’s Rogers.

“The granularity of our data collection with Ignition allows us to see things in our water system that we were never able to see before,” said Nick Graue, public utilities engineer for Park City Water. “The real-time data allows us to monitor our system very closely now.”

It’s also easy to add more clients. “Prior to Ignition, we had multiple operators fighting over the mouse to control the SCADA system,” said Graue. “Now we have individual terminals for each operator. Everybody has eyes on the system, and nobody is getting in anyone’s way.”

Help All Around

The mountainous region requires MRW to pump plenty of water uphill. That consumes a lot of energy. “One of the things we really value with Ignition is that it allowed us to venture into new realms of energy and power management,” said Evans. “And it saved us over $400,000 a year. That savings more than funds my entire department, as well as much of our SCADA improvements and upgrades.”

For Park City, reporting has become much easier. “I really enjoy the reporting tool that SKM built for us within Ignition,” said Graue. “I’m able to query any parameter of any tag within our entire system, and learn anything about what was happening at a certain time.”

Like MRW, Park City is expanding, so it really likes the unlimited licensing. “It gives us the flexibility to continuously add tags of our choosing, whether it’s new instrumentation, or new reporting capabilities,” said Graue. “We are constantly modifying our SCADA system. Before Ignition, we did not have that luxury.”

Bright Future

Park City sees Ignition as a strong base for the future. “Ignition, in our minds, is a great foundation for what we see as the smart utility,” said Graue. “We have various other critical business systems, such as our automated meter reading and our CMMS. We feel we can continue to capitalize on these great technology systems by integrating them with each other.”

Rogers of SKM said he was very impressed with the speed and power of Ignition when he first became familiar with it. “I was really surprised at how fast and easy it was,” he said. “I was able to download Ignition and install it, and within 10 minutes I was connecting to PLCs and adding tags. It was very impressive.”

Rogers also liked that he could try Ignition without having to buy the software first. “Being able to download the software, and experiment with it, without having to get licenses from a vendor, it was so easy,” said Rogers. “And we also saw the free training videos online. The whole process made it easy to see the power inside Ignition.”


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Allen Rogers: I'm Allen Rogers. I'm one of the principals of SKM. We're an integration firm based in Bountiful, Utah. We did these projects for Mountain Regional Water in Park City, Utah, which are both located in Summit County. Mountain Regional had three SCADA servers running their system in separate locations and they weren't connected, they couldn't see their entire system at once and they were rapidly expanding, they were running out of tags on their existing servers, so they had to relicense them if they wanted to keep expanding and adding new sites. 

Doug Evans: I'm Doug Evans. I'm the Water and Energy Manager for Mountain Regional Water District. Because we are in a very mountainous area that covers an elevation difference, ranging from about 6,000 feet to 9,400 feet, we have over 100 pumps. We have probably 30 pump stations, 20 reservoirs.

Allen Rogers: Park City was in a similar position as Mountain Regional, as their old system was, they were kind of at their life's end, the capacity wasn't there to keep moving with them and their goals as an organization.

Nick Graue: My name is Nick Graue. I am the Public Utilities Engineer for Park City Municipal Corporation. Prior to the Ignition SCADA upgrade, we were juggling multiple SCADA systems of which were proprietary software based, given some of the upcoming regulatory-driven capital projects that we have and the increasing complexities of our water system, it was high time for Park City to invest in a true comprehensive SCADA system that covered all facilities. Prior to Ignition, we managed approximately five to 8,000 SCADA tags. Now, with our new Ignition HMI, we have approximately 130,000 SCADA tags in our system.

Doug Evans: We had 5,000 tags that we utilized and with Ignition, we have grown to over 90,000 tags. It means that the system will grow with us and can be modified and expanded with our needs. As a result of us moving to the Ignition system, we were able to implement a power and energy management system, and that system allows us to control all of our pumping and plant facilities in a way in which we realize a savings of over $400,000 a year.

Nick Graue: Before Ignition, we were using a system that had 15-minute poll rates, so we were continuously looking back in time at what was going on in our water system. Now that we have Ignition and a much faster telemetry system to match it, we are able to see what is going on in our water distribution and treatment systems in real time, and we have a whole new perspective on how our system is functioning. Prior to our Ignition upgrade, we had one to two operators spending roughly half their time working on monthly reporting requirements to the state division of Environmental Quality. Now that we have Ignition, this reporting process is entirely automated, and we now save approximately one full-time employee.

Allen Rogers: Ignition was a great fit for both these organizations. We were able to realize cost savings, time savings, and the most important thing to us was the fact that we were able to accomplish everything we set out to do.

Project Information

Created By:   SKM, Inc.

SKM, Inc. is a premier electrical engineering firm specializing in SCADA, telemetry, electrical, and control design. Its engineers have extensive experience in electrical design, instrumentation and controls, PLC and HMI programming, and design services. For more information, visit skm-inc.com.

Location 533 W. 2600 S., #25, Bountiful, Utah 84010

Location Park City, Utah

Industry Water/Wastewater

Posted on February 12, 2018