Parker Water and Sanitation District Streamlines Monitoring and Control with FreeWave Wireless Communications Network

Parker Water and Sanitation District Streamlines Monitoring and Control with FreeWave Wireless Communications Network

Parker, CO – The Parker Water and Sanitation District (www.pwsd.org) comprises more than 17,000 single family equivalents (SFEs) within Parker, Colorado, covering a service area of approximately 43 square miles. Parker has the distinction of being the fastest-growing town in the fastest-growing county in the United States, experiencing a 50-fold population increase in its short municipal history. To support this explosive population growth, the district aims to provide, “secure and long-term, high-quality water service.”

In line with its Mission Statement, the District sought a Machine to Machine (M2M) communications network that could function “both economically and without interruption.” By having a highly efficient and reliable communication system, the water district could enhance its operations and help ensure that its customers are receiving the best possible service. Parker Water and Sanitation District looked to its technology solution partner, Process Control Dynamics, Inc. (PCD Sales) (www.pcdsales.com) to help it find a real-time, reliable option for wireless M2M technologies that would easily integrate into its existing Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

FreeWave Usage and Applications

Prior to finding a solution, Parker Water and Sanitation District cobbled together five different types of wireless M2M communication systems for data transmission, each with different network settings. The result was a congested and noisy environment that lacked any sort of integration or streamlined communications. Despite the lack of integration, the old system was able to monitor data but experienced at least a 10-minute delay during transmission. Additionally, if there was a problem with the network, a SCADA programmer would need to drive out to the field and fix the issue locally.

As the need for overhauling and updating its old network became apparent, the Parker Water and Sanitation District started the process by replacing its Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). As it began exploring options, FreeWave Technologies became apparent as the district’s best fit for its new M2M communication network. FreeWave provided complimentary network design, path study analysis and diagnostic tools. Tool Suite software, provided free of charge by FreeWave, allowed the water district to diagnose and configure the wireless radios right from the SCADA programmers’ desktops – eliminating the need for remote field repairs and saving the district significant time and resources. This feature became a significant time saver and greatly reduced the need to drive out and locally repair communication issues with the remotely located wireless radios. By working with PCD Sales and FreeWave, the water district mapped out and identified locations for network gateways to ensure effective data transmission. Parker Water and Sanitation District then had a clear path of development, and a chance to test the wireless radios before integrating them into its overall M2M communication network.

Today, FreeWave’s wireless radio models that are integrated into Parker Water’s M2M communication network include its HTplus, FGR Series Radios and FGR2-IO. Parker Water has two networks - one for wastewater and the other for water treatment. For wastewater monitoring, the network design is fairly simple and consists of FreeWave’s FGR master and slaves. On the water side, the design is more complicated and required more detailed planning and engineering to deploy a comprehensive M2M communication network. To ensure reliable data transmission, the new network consists of three layers: the first comprised of the network gateways; the second is the HTplus radios connected to the gateways; and the third layer is some of the HTplus radios connected through a subnet, which is essentially is a subdivision of the IP network that consists of FGR radios. Additionally, with FreeWave’s radios, the water district can communicate with every PLC in its network.

Outcomes

FreeWave’s M2M solutions have enabled Parker Water to increase its bandwidth 100 fold, and the wireless radios are far more portable than its former disparate technologies. If a radio is not in a location where one is needed, Parker Water and Sanitation District can pull one from a less critical area to repair a priority location in a couple of hours. Parker Water and Sanitation District is able to program, modify the radios remotely, as well as monitor the health of the M2M network, with FreeWave’s diagnostic software. By selecting an M2M wireless communications system that integrated into its network, Parker Water achieved an easily installed solution, while increasing performance and reliability.

Highlights of Success

  • Established an integrated and reliable communication network based on network design and path studies. 
  • Developed a M2M network that is capable of delivering real-time communication across long distances, despite hilly terrain and variable Colorado weather. 
  • Gained the ability to diagnose and configure communication issues from the desktop, along with top-notch customer support, as key success factors. 
  • Provided a faster, more reliable M2M communication network to ensure optimization of water operations.
  • Enhanced public safety by constantly monitoring critical data, such as tank levels, temperatures and pressures on a real-time basis.