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FDT enables higher productivity at lower operating costs

03 November 2013

FDT/DTM Technology improves efficiency, diagnostic capabilities at wastewater treatment plant. Network permits remote management of 250 kilometer system of canal, pipes. Profinet network uses FDT to help boost productivity and cut costs.

As early as 6500 B.C., people began separating and disposing their solid and liquid waste. Over time, the procedures involved in the disposal process have come a long way. In the past years, engineers have been developing innovative new technologies towards more efficient waste disposal to achieve environmental protection, lowered operating costs, and increased productivity in industrial installations.  

With these considerations in mind, the Warendorf wastewater treatment plant management decided to upgrade their facilities with a view to more comprehensive diagnostics and profitable operation. The water treatment plant consists of numerous individual systems and building structures. In addition to the main sewage plant, which is designed for roughly 80,000 inhabitants, there is a secondary treatment plant for around 7,000 inhabitants. There is also a network of eleven pumping stations and around 25 special structures. The canal and pipe grid totals more than 250 kilometers. As processing became increasingly complex over the years, it became necessary to deploy intelligent and reliable field devices. With them, employees are able to access all the relevant information needed for status-based maintenance during operation. FDT Technology is another crucial part as it provides centralized data processing and visualizing. 

Pre-emptive planning and completion of required maintenance work
The FDT interface is used for standardized data exchange between the field devices and the control system. This way, the plant operator can view all operating data and diagnostics messages from a central location while also diagnosing and configuring the intelligent field devices during ongoing operation. Parameter configuration enables rapid response to process changes, offering added flexibility and efficiency in all sections of the plant. The display of essential operating data such as motor currents, switch cycles, and operating hours furthermore contributes to easier planning and implementation of status-based maintenance, avoiding downtime wherever possible. FDT Technology – which is also very easy to use –ensures that the system complexity of the water treatment facilities remains fully manageable and operable. 

At the Warendorf control center, all diagnostics data from the electronic motor management modules is collected and visualized within the FDT framework software. In addition to diagnostics data and alarm messages, employees can view visual representations of current operating data such as motor currents, torques, and temperatures as characteristic curves in the relevant DTMs, which permits instant analysis. This means that the drives can be continuously monitored for malfunctions. For example, aging bearings or exceeded torques are detected before they can cause a failure. Based on the captured data, the plant operator can schedule all required maintenance measures well in advance.

Fully independent from the deployed bus system
Through the use of an FDT framework, the plant operator obtains an overview of all the intelligent field devices installed across the plant. The FDT framework is software that comprises a number of different device and communications drivers. These drivers essentially work in the same way as a common printer driver. Along with standardized communications drivers, FDT Technology is also distinguished by its standardized user interface. Thanks to the use of device drivers (Device DTMs), employees can access operating data, alarms, and important measurement readouts from the intelligent field devices at any time and from different locations. Thanks to the standardized communications interface, the underlying bus system is no longer important. This is particularly useful if the plant sections are physically spread out as all the information can be viewed from a safe central location. This also saves costs as maintenance staff only need to travel to remote plant sections when on-site physical work is required.

In the Warendorf wastewater treatment plant systems, the intelligent field devices are connected to the control center via three different bus systems. The higher-level controller from Phoenix Contact communicates with the lower-level bus couplers using Profinet, which is a real-time Ethernet protocol. A communications module is connected to the local bus of the remote bus couplers via Interbus, enabling data transmission to the field level. Communications with the intelligent field devices is handled using an internal system bus. A range of different communications drivers (Comm and Gateway DTMs) for all common bus systems ensures that data exchange between the device user interface (Device DTM) and the device itself is seamless.

Easy integration and reconfiguration of field devices
If there are any sudden malfunctions in the system, the error can be quickly located via the FDT framework, permitting the plant operator to respond in a timely fashion. Alarms are also displayed visually, which means that process errors or failures can be detected very quickly. “Thanks to FDT Technology, our employees at the Warendorf control center can easily operate the entire plant and all its distributed sub-stations from one central location, and they can log all the relevant data needed for maintenance purposes,” says Facility Manager Tim Jungmann. “The FDT concept fully supports our aim to operate the plant’s systems as efficiently as possible, both in terms of energy use and costs.”

Because field device complexity is continuing to increase, fast and easy integration of new hardware into the existing application is an important consideration for staff. When it comes to expanding power units, intuitive component handling is crucial. The flexibility offered by FDT Technology is very helpful in this regard. When an intelligent field device needs to be integrated into an existing network, the user simply adds a Device DTM to the software framework. All this usually involves a guided driver installation on the office computer. After that, the FDT framework and the Device DTM provide for remote as well as on-site configuration of the field device, meaning it can be precisely adapted to its intended tasks. All of the parameters available for configuration are displayed together for a better overview. 

Conclusion
For today’s industrial applications, it is becoming increasingly vital that faults and errors are detected as early as possible and remedied in a preventive fashion. If a failure occurs, it needs to be located and diagnosed instantly, and the processes involved need to be adapted quickly to accommodate sudden changes. This is the only way to increase application efficiency and thus lower maintenance, material, and personnel costs. Thanks to its flexible makeup and user friendliness, FDT Technology is ideally suited to meeting these challenges. Integration of new field devices and expansion of existing plant sections is also made easier as all the relevant data is brought together in a single user interface.


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