Ottawa, Illinois SCADA system

Overview screen of the MetroCloud SCADA map of sites for both water and wastewater systems in the City of Ottawa. Stars indicate station locations.

As one of the most common industrial control systems, a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system is of critical importance to municipalities. By allowing for the centralized monitoring of the larger water system — wastewater treatment, storm water, water treatment, lift stations, etc. — SCADA systems streamline access and help ensure that everything is running as planned. Unfortunately, traditional SCADA systems haven’t kept pace with technology, leaving many municipalities with high maintenance expenses and a lack of flexibility, access, and security concerns.

When it came time for the City of Ottawa, Illinois to address its decades old SCADA system, antiquated controls, and unreliable radio system, the municipality recognized that it was time for a broader change. While SCADA systems have historically been operated from one central, on-site computer, Ottawa didn’t want to feel tethered to or dependent on an old system. Rebuilding a SCADA system with multiple connections and hardware from various manufacturers is no small task, but engineers from Metropolitan Industries were able to work with the city to ease implementation and greatly streamline system monitoring by bringing the entire processes into the MetroCloud.

Understanding The Cloud

From smart phones, tablets, photo storage and servers, the term “cloud” seems to be working its way into every conversation and corner of life, but what exactly does it mean to be in the cloud? Well, this mysterious storage option is actually fairly simple. When storing data in the cloud, what you’re actually doing is placing digital data on servers, often in multiple locations, owned by a hosting company. This allows you to access your information from anywhere and prevents you from having to maintain digital storage options. Additionally, transitioning the physical SCADA computer to a virtual machine running in the cloud eliminates associated IT costs, computer replacements, software update costs, and physical security concerns. Best of all, everything once requiring an operator to sit in front of a computer can be done with remote access from any Android, iOS, or Windows smart device.

What this means for a SCADA system, like the one in Ottawa, is that the on-site computer server becomes a thing of the past, but the information once held on that system becomes more accessible than ever.

From Ground to Cloud

To help ease the transition for the City of Ottawa, Metropolitan worked with the municipality to take a two-step, transitioned approach for the implementation of MetroCloud SCADA, our remotely hosted SCADA monitoring system. The first step was to rebuild the existing SCADA system and improve operator access to the data. By combining our expertise with pump systems with our deep understanding of associated software communications, we connected various components and software systems across multiple sites to enable easy communication. Though some lift stations are still on their old radio communications, other were replaced with cellular modems to allow for faster, more reliable communications and easy cloud hosting. Further, the remaining lift stations are track to be replaced in the future with our LMS II, a complete menu-configurable lift station level management system. Though we didn’t move everything to cloud storage/hosting immediately, all systems needed to communicate through the cloud.

With the SCADA communications reconfigured, we were able to move to step two: transitioning a small number of municipal water components — three lift stations — to cloud hosting. The result? As planned, access was simplified, information was readily available with just a few taps, and in less than a year the City of Ottawa took the plunge.

After recognizing the value of MetroCloud SCADA, they transitioned  more lift stations, four wells, three pump stations, one water treatment plant, and one waste water treatment plant to the cloud and this new system has already proven itself. When the city was hit by a major tornado in February, communications via MetroCloud SCADA were sent as planned, allowing the city to remain aware of its water system despite the chaos and destruction that rocked the community. That’s all part of the security that’s inherent to every MetroCloud SCADA.

Overview screen of the MetroCloud SCADA map of sites for both water and wastewater systems in the City of Ottawa. Stars indicate station locations. Shown on a smart device.

Overview screen of the MetroCloud SCADA map of sites for both water and wastewater systems in the City of Ottawa. Stars indicate station locations. Shown on a tablet.

Security is Priority

When talking about the cloud, security concerns are usually one of the first things that come to mind. While it’s good to be aware of risks, MetroCloud SCADA puts security first by working to guarantee uptime and restrict access to information. To ensure reliability, all data using the MetroCloud platform is hosted on Amazon Cloud Servers, with 99.9% uptime and multiple servers in geographically redundant zones, meaning you’ve always got a backup should something go wrong. Additionally, we designed this system so that it’s not exposed to the Internet. A private Internet protocol (IP) address essentially creates a gated community for your information, limiting access to sensitive municipal data, and when connecting to MetroCloud via Ethernet connection, VPN tunnels encrypt all data. Finally, the system partners with cellular carriers to create a private network connection between MetroCloud and the cellular network.

With all of this being done by Metropolitan’s experienced pump system and control experts, setup is quick and ongoing maintenance is minimal. In addition to the cloud offering easy access, this storage/communication option eliminates the need for dedicated on-site computers/servers and the costs associated with maintaining this added infrastructure, including SCADA software licenses and upgrades. In fact, with free upgrades automatically pushed to the system, there is no IT involvement at all for most applications.

You could say that we have our heads in the cloud, and we’d probably agree. By remaining at the forefront of innovation in the market with MetroCloud, we’re taking steps to ensure that our clients are ready for the years ahead. Backed by a 60 year history of proven expertise in the pump systems industry, we’re looking forward to the next 60 years and we know that phone lines, computer towers, and at-risk data won’t get us there.

PLC- based control system operates the (4) pumps in variable or constant speed modes to maintain constant pressure.

Pump stations come in many shapes and sizes. With so many options for customization depending on the needs of the customer, you could almost say that no two pump stations are exactly alike. That might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s definitely not a stretch to say that all pump stations aren’t created equal. Those exposed to the elements come with an obvious set of challenges and normally age more quickly due to exposure, while pump stations set below ground level increase safety risks and costs (if a permit is required) by creating a confined space.

When the City of Oak Lawn set out to upgrade its own aging infrastructure and confined space pump station, it was determined that an above ground station was the answer. When the lead contractor set out to plan the job, Metropolitan met all the specifications, had a reputation for quality in the industry, and offered round the clock support. However, meeting specs is only the tip of the iceberg and 24/7 support typically only comes in handy after things are connected. In other words, it’s easy to make those claims. The real difference comes to light in the space between meeting specs and offering service. The real difference is in delivering from start to finish. At Metropolitan, we understand the importance of building a reliable pump station and, to accomplish that, we’ve got you covered from the first pipe to the final shingle.

(4) 125 HP end suction pumps are capable of delivering over 10,000 GPM through 24” piping.

All Under Two Roofs

To help guarantee quality and ensure that every component of a Metropolitan pump station arrives in perfect condition, we build ours in our Romeoville, Illinois facility. That means we’re actually building your roof under ours. This approach allows us to remain on schedule by working regardless of the weather and it enables us to test everything before delivering. Pump stations must normally be tested in the field, but this can cause delays and increased costs. With our on-site testing capabilities, we can work to guarantee that every valve, pump, and handle function properly. With systems shipping all over the country, these tests are especially critical, but testing all components is equally important.

Further, the pumps are fusion bonded and approved for drinking water, but we know that the building must also be suitable from two different perspectives:

1. The Structure

The building itself must provide adequate protection from the elements. A Hardie TM board exterior with numerous facade customization options and an FRP interior help create structural integrity with every Metropolitan pump station, while blown-in closed cell insulation provides temperature protection. This approach protects valuable equipment and makes the structure compliant with various building codes. To ensure the system is always up and running, the installation of a diesel or natural gas generator is also possible.

2. The Functionality

In addition to serving its purpose as shelter, every pump station must allow for seamless day-to-day operations. For Oak Lawn, that meant all pumps, controls, and the chemical room — a customization requested by the municipality — needed to be accessible at all times. In part, this is made possible by the climate controlled, enclosed space of the pump station itself. By removing the elements, operators can work without worrying about the weather, and with accessibility options such as cranes, hoists, and overhead doors, service is simplified.

Completed housed booster station set onto the foundation at the jobsite.

Backed By Engineering and Expertise

To design and build a lasting, reliable structure, we begin with full three-dimensional renderings that help clients understand the space and its possibilities. Our design engineers are experts in the world of pumps and pump systems, allowing us to design pump stations that function as planned in Metropolitan’s test lab and in daily use. From a range of available pump options from various manufacturers to the UL listed controls to the software that keeps everything running, we cover it all. Following design approval, the structure is built, tested, and arranged for delivery.

In Oak Lawn, our attention to detail and our deep understanding of the needs of municipalities combined to produce a pump station that will serve the community for decades. Not only that, but we plan to be around to provide the city with the support it needs as it grows and continues to change. We always feel a sense of accomplishment when we can check design, construction, and installation off the client to-do list, but we never put a mark beside “24/7 Support and Service” because we’ll never be done offering that. For more information our prefabricated housed systems, visit metropolitanind.com.

Contact Us

(815) 886-9200 or Email Us: info@metropolitanind.com
37 Forestwood Dr., Romeoville, Il 60446

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