Solar-Power Provider Improves Integration, Data Analysis, and Reporting

Powerful Software Also Provides Faster Development

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It’s not easy keeping up with DEPCOM Power. Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., DEPCOM has been growing rapidly, and has plans to continue its expansion. DEPCOM Power designs, builds, and operates utility-scale solar power plants. With all the growth, the company needs a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system that will scale quickly and easily for years to come.

DEPCOM chose Ignition by Inductive Automation® — an industrial application platform with tools for building flexible solutions in SCADA, human-machine interface (HMI), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition provides the unlimited licensing DEPCOM needs — allowing it to add tags, clients, and projects without additional costs.

DEPCOM has been using Ignition since 2015, after it was suggested by system integration company Vertech — another fast-growing company with plenty of solar experience. Vertech and DEPCOM have created several projects in Ignition.

DEPCOM uses Ignition for monitoring and controlling solar power plants — and also for data analysis, troubleshooting, design, and reporting. By analyzing historical data from Ignition, DEPCOM continually improves plant performance and efficiency. DEPCOM also likes Ignition for its fast development tools and flexibility in integrating with other platforms.

“Seven of the nine power plants we operate and maintain are on Ignition,” said Jimmy Hood, director of plant operations for DEPCOM. “Ignition is a big improvement in SCADA integration. Other platforms can run you up in costs and headaches in a hurry. Ignition is very user-friendly, and easy to integrate with every data type, connection, and platform.”

Keep the Customer Satisfied

DEPCOM has numerous stakeholders and customers, including its own operators, independent engineers, banks, utilities, plant owners, and independent power producers. Integration with various entities and technologies has been much easier with Ignition than with previous systems DEPCOM has used. And customers like it. “We’ve got all kinds of customers now that are abandoning their usual platforms in favor of Ignition,” said John Schroeder, senior vice president of plant operations for DEPCOM.

Ignition’s unlimited licensing model saves money for DEPCOM. “When we looked at Ignition compared to some of its competitors, something that really stuck out to us was the unlimited licensing, and the pricing, especially per tag,” said Schroeder. “Our business is very cost-competitive. We need to be as cost-competitive on software as we are when building these plants. The pricing and scalability of Ignition were very attractive to us.”

Better + Faster

Ignition’s performance has also been impressive, Schroeder noted. “Usually, when you get to this type of scale, you see breakdowns,” said Schroeder. “That hasn’t happened with Ignition.”

Fast development has also set Ignition apart. “Something that took two or three weeks before, now it takes two hours,” said Hood. DEPCOM rolls out sites very quickly, and Ignition allows the company to create customized applications in a hurry.

Kris Grindstaff, a renewable energy specialist with Vertech, has been working with DEPCOM closely, and he’s not surprised that DEPCOM is leveraging Ignition for numerous benefits. “I believe Ignition is the easiest platform to learn,” said Grindstaff. “And the designer is so intuitive. It allows you to build screens very quickly. It really seems like it was designed with the end user in mind; it bypasses a lot of the complexities you get with other systems.”

Finding Value in More Data

DEPCOM now has more data than ever before, and it’s able to make sense of that data. “One of the great benefits for DEPCOM is Ignition’s ability to quickly generate reports and data, so they can see how their plants are performing,” said Grindstaff. “Every one of their sites has something different from the others, so it’s very helpful for them to be able to quickly and easily see this data.”

“Ignition helps us trend data on a daily basis,” said Hood. “We can troubleshoot the ins and outs of the power plants, from trackers, to the inverters, to the substation.” Immediate access to data helps operators solve some problems themselves. For problems that need further study, it’s easy to pull up the details. If there’s an issue, operators can see the data right away, and begin identifying the root cause of the problem. Ignition has sped up the process, automating some of the data analysis. Also with Ignition, DEPCOM has greater trust in the quality of the data. Overall, solutions and decisions are happening faster at the company since Ignition was implemented.

DEPCOM isn’t slowing down anytime soon. “At the end of 2018, we’ll be rolling our operations center into a building about three times the size of what we have currently,” said Schroeder. “We have plans to increase our footprint about 4X on the power plant side. And we expect Ignition to scale and grow along with us.”

“We’ve also selected Ignition to help us design our new Fleet View system,” added Hood. “It will help monitor all plants on a single platform. From there we can remote in to each of the individual projects and further assess. Ignition will allow us to integrate all of the projects seamlessly on one platform. We have big plans to integrate all future projects with Ignition. We have customers requesting it on our second and third projects with them. It’s just been a powerful, great option for us.”

Vertech has offices in Phoenix, Ariz.; Irvine, Calif.; and Nashville, Tenn. Vertech works in numerous industries, including solar, water/wastewater, aerospace, and craft brewing and distilling. For more information, visit


Kris Grindstaff: I am Kris Grindstaff, and I am a Renewable Energy Specialist with Vertech, and over the last few years, we've been working with DEPCOM. DEPCOM uses Ignition in a couple different ways. They control all of their solar plants and the output of those to the electric grid. But they also use Ignition to analyze data and improve performance and efficiency of those plants by looking at historical data that's been collected.

Jimmy Hood: I'm Jimmy Hood, and I'm the Director of Plant Operations at DEPCOM Power. Ignition has been all around a blessing in this industry. We've suffered from many other vendors limiting the amount of tags, limiting the data integration with certain manufacturers or vendors of different companies and data types. Ignition has bridged the gap front-to-back and made seamless integration with multiple data types with multiple platforms almost effortless.

John Schroeder: I'm John Schroeder, Senior Vice President of Plant Operations for DEPCOM Power. When we looked at all the different stakeholders we have, from the utilities, the plant owners, our own operators, sometimes independent engineers, we need to be very fluid and flexible with who has access to the system, how many devices we're including and monitoring, and this software really allowed us to do that. It meshed very well with our business model, and it didn't break the bank either.

Kris Grindstaff: I think Ignition's a great fit for DEPCOM and what they're trying to accomplish. One of the reasons would be the speed at which we can develop applications. DEPCOM rolls out sites very quickly, and Ignition allows us to accommodate that. And secondly, it allows us to be very flexible and develop customized applications for whatever needs they have.

Jimmy Hood: More times often than not, we have last-minute requests from the utility or customer to integrate a certain device or a certain report. With Ignition, we sometimes can turn this around in the same day, depending on the magnitude of the report. With other platforms, this could be a huge effort of an entire team that could take a week to a month to complete. 

Jimmy Hood: Prior to Ignition, we had trouble standardizing and maintaining access, understanding of the system, managing user accounts, operations, and control of the plants. With Ignition, this has provided a platform that everyone understands in our group, and any confusion has been completely removed.

John Schroeder: Oftentimes you have a stakeholder that's got a favorite package or a favorite way they look at things, and Ignition needs to play well with others. It's probably the best platform for integrating with other software packages out there.

Kris Grindstaff: I think one of the great benefits that Ignition offers to DEPCOM is the ability for them to quickly generate reports and data to look at how plants are performing.

John Schroeder: We now have a lot of users of Ignition. We started with just a handful of stakeholders, and now we've got utilities, banks, independent engineers, owners, independent power producers, all kinds of people all on Ignition looking at the system. They've abandoned some of their traditional dashboards and things like that to log in to this SCADA system and see what's going on with their plants. The results have been fantastic.

Jimmy Hood: Vertech has been a great partner. They've led us on the Ignition path, and we couldn't be more grateful. It's opened more opportunities, more doors, and made our system easily integratable from a company perspective where we didn't have enough time and effort to build out our own SCADA team and design team.




Posted on August 29, 2018