Wireless pump monitoring and control for reservoirs

05 January 2022

Ian Loudon explores what is needed for industry to overcome monitoring and control challenges in applications where assets are dispersed over a wide area.

Water reservoirs are often situated in geographically dispersed areas and can be difficult to access. This means that asset managers must rely on remote monitoring and control systems to monitor water levels and turn pumps on and off at each reservoir from a centralised control station. Because installing control cables is costly in such applications – often more costly than any of the equipment itself – the utilities industry relies on wireless monitoring and control systems.

Wireless monitoring of all reservoirs from a centralised control system allows asset managers to know what the water levels are at each site at a glance. Combined with a pump control system, this allows them to control water levels to suit demand without the need for time consuming site visits.

Wireless technology also increases operational flexibility – it is much simpler to move a wireless device compared to a cable unit. Wireless units simply need to be unplugged at the old location and plugged in at the new one.

Traditionally, asset managers have used radio telemetry systems, operating in license band frequencies, to operate all wireless equipment. However, administration costs to own and maintain license band radio frequencies often outweighs the cost of the equipment itself, making the networks much more expensive to operate.

New globally defined license-free ISM band radio telemetry equipment, Industrial, scientific and medical band radio frequency spectrum (ISM) has proven to be a game changer, helping equipment owners avoid unnecessary licensing and admin costs. Combine this with Omniflex’s plug-and-play technology and the result is a system that can be easily installed and up-and-running in minutes.

The wireless units can be directly interfaced to an existing supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system using the on-board ethernet ports or function as a stand-alone programmable controller independent of SCADA using wireless networking to monitor remote I/O for control implementation. This makes installation quick and simple, allowing asset managers to save on any additional hardware or engineering requirements. Most applications require little or no programming due to the functionality of the Omniflex Telemetry devices. 

Furthermore, Omniflex’s cloud-based Data2Desktop platform allows asset managers to monitor systems 24/7 using a tablet or phone, rather than a fixed desktop in a control room. This is helpful for mobile workforces, particularly in the current situation, where the pandemic has been forcing more people to work remotely.

This new generation of plug-and-play wireless telemetry offers benefits in other industries, such as mining where there is a need for surface-level control of sub surface water pumps to remove water from mines. Indeed, any industry where cabling is either too costly, or too disruptive, to install can benefit from adopting this kind of plug-and-play wireless telemetry system.

Ian Loudon is international sales and marketing manager at Omniflex.

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