Reliable Data Supports Cleaner Energy Initiative For 50 States

Automated Control Concepts — 2023 Finalist

10 min video  /  4 minute read

Project Summary:

One of South Jersey Industries’ (SJI) key initiatives is to deliver on its commitment to provide cleaner energy. The generation of renewable natural gas facilities at dairy farms is a key production commitment for SJI. A modular production facility is required at each farm site, near the raw materials. The speed of deployment and number of sites involved demands the establishment of a universal architecture and platform for the integration of control and enterprise systems at the company. In addition, the distributed nature of the system and criticality to the energy infrastructure demand the highest level of security and reliability. Finally, SJI requires that all these sites be centrally monitored from an enterprise SCADA system that will also historize data for financial and regulatory reporting. The central importance of reliable data for continual operational financial justification proves the common Digital Transformation adage that “data is the new gas.”

SJI Industries tasked Automated Control Concepts (ACC) to build a foundation for the application of key control and information technologies and systems that will allow the organization to realize world-class Digital Transformation and create a secure data pipeline. In doing so, SJI would be able to provide users at all levels of the organization with access to control system information. Through the strategic application of industrial information technologies, significant benefits are realized in the following areas: reliability, availability, visibility, and security.

ACC successfully built and deployed this operational technology stack on Inductive Automation’s Ignition platform, which let ACC establish a scalable architecture to support plants/sites of varying sizes and complexity. The integration of data from the site’s control level, through various secure (DMZ) network layers to the corporate core network and cloud providers, has been addressed.



SJI’s challenge had multiple aspects. It needed to rapidly deploy modular production facilities at remote, rural locations. These locations required full SCADA control and visibility across multiple modular skid equipment systems. Data from these systems must be reliably and securely published in a central repository for reporting purposes. Financial and regulatory reporting is critical in this application with the need to totalize raw materials, renewable natural gas production, and effluents.



The highly flexible Ignition platform can be deployed in a modular fashion, allowing ACC to deploy a gateway at each site that complies with the network architecture required by SJI. Secure site functions such as SCADA are separated from external-facing functions such as data transmission via MQTT and alarm notifications via Twilio. The lightweight MQTT transmitters allow ACC to publish and synchronize all data from each site’s SCADA to a central system, where the data can be viewed in a central portal across multiple sites. 

Ignition helps establish an enterprise-wide Unified Namespace. This ensures asset-naming standards across all sites allow data to be combined into the centralized location and allow seamless integration to external applications. The creation of this Unified Namespace and Ignition embedded into the design of the SCADA’s tag structure makes the integration of the resulting data from these systems possible with no additional toolsets. Essentially the data is self-describing.

MQTT provides robust, secure data transmission with store-and-forward capabilities to ensure data delivery despite the remote and low-speed nature of many of the site connections. The enterprise-level system is highly scalable, using a combination of multiple MQTT distributors, redundant MQTT Engine backend gateway tag servers, and multiple frontend servers attached to a secure enterprise load balancer. While users can drill down and visualize the same screens and data that are visible at the site SCADAs, the system also provides a flexible dashboard interface to allow users to create their own views of data with the combination of multiple, flexible widgets.



ACC was able to deliver on all aspects of this secure system solution for SJI, with a fully scaled solution of over 50 sites. The system provides a standard, local control system at each site, centralized viewing and historization, and satisfies SJI’s need for a reliable repository of production data that supports its financial and regulatory reporting needs.


Deploy Date: December 2022

Project Scope:

Tags: 40,000 per site X 50 sites

Screens: 28 displays per site, variable dashboards at multi-site

Clients: 50

Alarms: 3,000 per site X 50 sites

Devices used: 8 skid-based PLCs for digester, media feeds, gas upgrading, and compression/distribution at each site utilizing Siemens, Rockwell, Opto22, and Schneider. Central BOP PLC based on Rockwell ControlLogix.

Architectures used: Enterprise/IIoT

Databases used: 50

Historical data logged: 1,292 tags per site X 50 sites, ~64,600 historical data points

Project Information

Created By:   Automated Control Concepts LLC

ACC’s mission is to provide high-quality information products, services, and solutions to manufacturing and utility companies. In doing so, we will strategically deploy new technology and continue to implement proven technology in the best interests of our end user. We strive to establish long-term relationships with our end users, employees, and suppliers. We shall be fair and honest in all our dealings. ACC strives to provide automation and controls solutions and services with the latest in technology. ACC can architect, design, build, and commission complete process control systems.


Project For:   South Jersey Industries

At SJI, we recognize that our position as a trusted community partner means that we hold a shared responsibility to protect the environment in which our employees, communities, and over 700,000 customers call home. That's why we are committed to promoting sustainability, driving innovation, and providing solutions that advance New Jersey's vision of a clean energy future for a better today and tomorrow. We aim to achieve a 70% carbon reduction of operational emissions and consumption by the year 2030, achieve 100% carbon neutral operations by 2040, and commit at least 25% of annual capital expenditures on sustainability projects.


Posted on October 20, 2023