Indian River Utility Installs New Wireless System

The Indian River County Utilities Department recently installed a new wireless system that can monitor and control more than 1,200 events per minute, alerting operators immediately to any off-standard condition, such as a failed pump or a level that is too high or too low.

The Indian River County Utilities Department recently installed a new wireless system that can monitor and control more than 1,200 events per minute, alerting operators immediately to any off-standard condition, such as a failed pump or a level that is too high or too low.

The same system will also be used to monitor trucks in the field, allowing operators to coordinate their response by linking remote stations, central control and maintenance personnel in the field.

The new system from Tera Systems International is called WIMAC™ (Wireless Intelligent Monitoring and Control). The system is “event-oriented” rather than looped oriented, said Rafael Lander of Tera Systems. In the past, operators could not get an instantaneous reading on the status of a distant lift station. Instead, they had to wait while the monitoring system polled the more than 100 remote points in the network.

In the system, if an off-standard event is detected by a remote monitor, the central office is notified right away. This is true if the “event” is a malfunctioning pump or a vehicle outside of its assigned area, Lander said. This event-oriented control (EVOC) system is one of the most significant advances in remote monitoring and control technology in over a decade, he said.

The $1 million contract for the WIMAC system includes installation of 40 new remote radio units on Indian River’s new lift stations, and all necessary central control station hardware and software. In addition, Tera Systems is retrofitting the wastewater treatment system’s existing lift stations and monitoring equipment to make it compatible with new equipment.

One of the keys to the system’s speed and capacity is the proprietary error correction communication protocol developed by Lander. The technology allows the use of highly sensitive, low power radios to transmit information in the 900 MHz range, thereby reducing the number of repeaters needed to pass along signals to remote stations. The radios have a sensitivity of –126 db, compared to –113 db for a standard good radio.

Several of the utility’s vehicles will be equipped with Geographical Information System (GIS) hardware and radio units, which will allow the control station to monitor their positions at all times.

For example, if a problem is detected, an operator can zero in on the location on a computer screen and view a complete report on other equipment at the same location. The operator can operate switches and pumps by remote control and compare the situation to other stations in the network. They can located the closest maintenance vehicle and double-check the identify of repair personnel on that vehicle, including pictures of the assigned crew members.

“There will be substantial savings because of the ability of the tracking system to be used for dispatch purposes,” said William McCain, PE, capital projects engineer for the utility. “We can even let other departments utilize the system to track other vehicles including police and fire vehicles.”

The Indian River County sheriff’s department has expressed interest in the system. The system’s infrastructure will be installed as part of the utility upgrade, and will have enough capacity to handle the sheriff’s vehicles. One feature of the system will allow each department to view only the location of their vehicles, eliminating confusion and enhancing security.

More in Home