AC&TS Customer Solution

CASE STUDY: What do a golf course, food producer and a healthcare facility all have in common? Remote access and process control via a smartphone, thanks to AC&TS.

“There’s no doubt that AC&TS puts their customers first: they went the extra mile for us by making our HMI interface extremely user-friendly and fully comprehensive with our original system. It’s pretty amazing what we can do with our smartphones now!”



The Challenge:

A customer asked AC&TS to find a method for them to control their irrigation system remotely.

The Solution:

Discovering creative ways to take existing technologies and modify them in order to gain remote HMI access to fit each customer’s unique needs.

 

Technical Highlights:
  • Industry: Several including food production, water distribution and potable water supply
  • Service: Designing and implementing smartphone interfaces that allows the user to monitor, access and control systems remotely.
  • Technologies Used:
    • Wonderware Intouch Human Machine Interface (HMI) software development
    • Rockwell PAC software and hardware
    • Rockwell and Wonderware Mobility software applications
    • Rockwell and Wonderware Webserver software applications
    • Cellular, Wifi, VPN (tunneling) and Cloud applications

Background:

One of Automated Control and Technical Services’ (AC&TS) current clients, who operates a semi-private, 18-hole golf course located in California’s picturesque Central Valley, approached them about coming up with a solution to control their irrigation system remotely. As always, the AC&TS team was up to the challenge. They started out by pinpointing the existing technologies that controlled the system itself as well as its alarms. Based on the fact that there are very few technologies that exist today that cannot be emulated onto a tablet, the team set out to modify these existing technologies in order to work from any tablet, smartphone or smaller device, no matter what the location.

Process:

AC&TS carefully took the time and consideration needed to create a unique application that allows any smartphone or tablet to interface with the entire irrigation system. The team took care of everything from HMI (Human Machine Interface) application design and development, PAC control code development and Webserver configuration to wireless network design and installation including WiFi, cellular and FHSS. They also included SCADA HMI and Historian servers, configured all alarms and event software, selected and implemented VPN hardware and software and set up the mobile applet. The application now provides the client with complete control – including the ability to evaluate fairway conditions and override programing (from a golf cart) to provide extra raw water flow/irrigation to brown spots along the course – from any remote location. The client can also monitor, change and reset the alarm systems right from their touchscreens. But what really sets this smartphone interface apart from the rest is how simple it is to use because it was built to be a complete reflection of the client’s original technology. In fact, the HMI programming was written in such a way that it is easily readable and understandable in the smaller smartphone/tablet format. Plus, it provides robust security since it can recognize specific devices and limit access to these devices. The client can also limit various user privileges based upon a predetermined hierarchy.

Once AC&TS created the innovative smartphone interface for the golf course, they realized that several other clients could benefit from this technology as well. For example, a food importer, processor and packer that AC&TS had been supporting for many years was concerned that their myriad of shift managers weren’t monitoring the facility as well as they would have liked. AC&TS presented their smartphone interface as a solution, and now the Plant Manager can monitor the entire plant process anytime, anywhere. Another client example is a healthcare facility that was very interested in managing and controlling not only the potable water sites but also their water treatment, waste water and irrigation systems from a touchscreen device. Thanks to AC&TS’s smartphone interface, they’re now able to check water levels, water flow and have complete control over their pumps, ensuring that their entire 600-acre campus is fully functional at all times.

Results:

For AC&TS’ client who operates the golf course, as well as for all the other clients they’ve designed smartphone interfaces, they’re now able to:

  • supervise and control all systems from anywhere in the world
  • monitor production at any time
  • respond to and triage any alarms at a moment’s notice rather than drive to the plant
  • enable “work a rounds” or other alternatives in “real time” remotely in order to facilitate continuous functionality

The bottom line? They’re all saving invaluable amounts of downtime, production time and personal time by having complete control of their critical system and monitoring of all data at their fingertips, wherever they are.

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