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Proficy HMI / SCADA

Formellino Wastewater Treatment Improves Plant Criticalities with HMI/SCADA

30 %

Increase in energy savings


Optimized process efficiency


Improved water quality and control








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Proficy HMI / SCADA

The Formellino Wastewater Treatment plant at Faenza is managed by Hera Imola - Faenza S.r.l. It is a medium-sized installation that purifies 1000 m3 /hour of water and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


The Formellino Wastewater Treatment plant diverts the water flowing into the Lamone river, splits the flow onto two parallel lines, and directs the two flows to the treatment tanks.


The water treatment plant is, due to its intrinsic nature, subject to seasonal variations determined by rainfall. Consequently, one of the process criticalities is that the quality of the water to be treated cannot be determined beforehand. Furthermore, the plant collection basin includes a number of industries, which introduce large amounts of waste, thus the water chemistry and flow varies greatly. Another criticality of a plant like this, with such an extensive coverage, is that it is always on. This is essential to prevent the risk of releasing polluted water into the river and to prevent being fined by the water quality monitoring authority.


The old plant was run according to a fixed time logic. This consisted of making the sewage water stand in the various vessels for a predetermined length of time and controlling the operation of the process-related machines (aerators, blowers, pumps, etc.) according to dissolved oxygen measurements and laboratory test data only. The goal set by Giovanni Tedioli, Water Treatment Manager of Hera Imola—Faenza, was to use the data collected by various sensors to control the transit times of the sewage in the tanks and machine operation according to the values of oxygen, ammonia, suspended solids, and nitrates to improve plant processing and energy efficiency. Furthermore, the new control system had to allow an operator to work at the plant as well as relaying data to the control room from where all Hera plants are monitored. The plants are manned during the day, but the control room alone monitors the operation of all water treatment plants during the night.


Unlocking predictive control with CIMPLICITY


In order to reach these goals, Hera called Pastorelli’s Environmental Engineering firm to establish the project guidelines. The system was made by Novanet, a company based in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, with major expertise in the construction of large control and automation systems. Hera asked Novanet to use GE Digital solutions for implementing the control system. These products are standard at Hera Imola— Faenza plants because they are reliable, competitively priced, the construction technology is good, and assistance in case of need is prompt and conclusive.


The “brain” of the system is a GE PACSystems RX3i in redundant hot backup configuration, which interfaces with all the field instruments on a Profibus network (part optical fibres and part copper wires); there are several new and old sensors in total, amounting to approximately 600 controlled tags. The two redundant CPUs ensure the high plant availability required by the application criticality. The PAC Contoller establishes the standing times of the slurry in the various stages of the plant. By means of a direct Modbus/TCP link, the PAC communicates data to the Hera control room, where they are stored in a SQL database and concisely displayed so that the operator (present 24 hours a day) can be warned of faults and act accordingly.


At the Formellino plant, a local computer running CIMPLICITY monitors and displays information and data in the form of trend or log, in addition to alarms, which may be silenced or not by the users according to their access levels. Ten profiles corresponding to ten different operative and data access levels have been created according to the privileges established for each user class.


The application allows for set up and program control parameters (the plant has been running only for a few months and the control logic is still being fine-tuned). Many fault detecting functions have been implemented in program running at the water treatment plant today to signal measurements deviating from expected values and to collect and use self-diagnostic data from the field sensors.


Improved plant performance 


The new system collects plant data for constantly monitoring everything in detail. Predictive control, sensor data collection, and use and control system response rapidity have been exploited to optimize machine running times and consequently decrease energy consumption while keeping the water quality high. Before installing the new system, for example, the water was over-oxygenated, and this was pointless from a microbiological point of view. The Formellino Water Treatment plant automation system has been running for only a few months and the implemented logics are still being optimized. After only 50 days, an energy consumption of 30% has already been observed. The plant was shut down for approximately half an hour to allow the new system to be installed. Personnel training was swift, thanks to intuitive, self-explanatory graphic displays, and was carried out over several shifts to account for staff turnover.


New actuators, which will be controlled continuously instead of in steps, will be added in the future. They will be installed on the Profibus field network and controlled directly by the PACSystems Rx3i. These improvements will provide the best results where the processed matter is kept moving: i.e., in oxidation and sludge recirculation tanks.

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