Ahead of the Curve: Lanco Electric Brings Intelligence to Water Treatment

Lanco Electric
SPWA system control screens

Lanco Electric Inc., Leechburg, Pa., is at work on a series of projects aimed at water treatment upgrades and intelligence—most recently completing three projects for two authorities: West View Water Authority and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority (SPWA). The EC has spent the past two decades providing design, build, installation, systems integration and ongoing support services to the water industry around the region.

Water treatment plants have been transitioning to networks of stations that are getting smarter and more complex. Lanco Electric has made a specialty of delivering highly automated solutions that manage these systems with intelligent equipment, sensors and wireless networks. The EC has 25 years of experience in heavy industrial, commercial and municipal installations. For water treatment facilities, the new systems and upgrades are boosting operational efficiency, and helping them meet the demands of growing customer bases.

Since 1993, the EC has completed water treatment projects for more than 40 municipal water authorities, in addition to customers in the nuclear power and metal manufacturing sectors.

The company’s most recent water treatment work consists of construction of new facilities as well as upgrades to existing water treatment systems. For this kind of specialized work, Lanco Electric serves as prime contractor, providing engineering, installation and IT services as well as applying several decades of water treatment facility experience.

The projects include a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system upgrade for West View Water, a two-phase expansion of a water treatment plant for the SPWA, and a new raw water intake and treatment plant in Beaver County that adds significant capacity to the West View Water Authority system.

The West View Water and SPWA projects represent an example of how water authorities are using technology as they modernize and expand their operations, according to Rob Landowski, vice president, Lanco Electric.

SCADA rooftop unit filter, SPWA
SCADA rooftop unit filter, SPWA

West View Water Authority

The West View Water Authority wanted to modernize its SCADA system to replace outdated equipment while increasing efficiency, quality control and safety. Lanco Electric was selected to provide the SCADA system at the main plant and 12 remote sites.

The 40-million-gallons-per-day (MGD) main plant control system was completely overhauled, said Eric Moreland, Lanco Electric engineering manager. The EC replaced the existing copper wire, daisy-chained, serial network with a plant-wide fiber optic backbone.

This authority required a network infrastructure with the reliability and bandwidth necessary for modern control computing technologies, Moreland said. Additionally, equipment including valve actuators and motor controls needed to be upgraded.

These base improvements at the main plant offered a foundation on which the modern control computing system could be built, Moreland said. Lanco Electric custom designed the modularized control system units that control each sub-process so each could be retrofit into the existing electrical enclosures. Lanco Electric co-built these subassemblies at its manufacturing facility, then delivered them to the job site and installed them.

The upgraded local control modules—commonly referred to as remote telemetry units (RTUs)—were then connected to the new fiber backbone so in-plant control systems could be networked together and be managed by supervisory control. In all, 24 RTUs and all motor control at the plant were integrated into a single system.

Newly expanded SPWA main plant
Newly expanded SPWA main plant

From there, Lanco Electric’s engineers commissioned each subsystem and brought the supervisory system online. The SCADA system could then control the plant, collect data, and enable control of the operation from one room with minimal staff.

This work spanned nearly two years and required minimal outages to the existing plant while supplying water to its customer base, Moreland said.

In addition, the authority’s distribution system covers a large topography, and pumping stations also required RTU upgrades. The authority opted to use 4.9 gigahertz (GHz) wireless data links, which include radios and repeaters to communicate. Lanco Electric helped install antenna towers and a wireless network infrastructure of sufficient bandwidth and reliability to provide connectivity.

By building the subassemblies at its in-house manufacturing site, the EC can shorten the schedule and reduce overall project costs and risk. Self-performing the majority of the work in-house is one of many things that makes Lanco Electric unique.

“Our facility has a UL 508 panel shop,” Landowski said. “All control panels are designed and assembled at our facility.”

They are then staged at the facility, and factor acceptance testing is done in-house before they are delivered and deployed.

UV water system, SPWA
UV water system, SPWA

Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority

SPWA is based in the town of Jefferson, Pa., and provides water to three Western Pennsylvania counties. Its water treatment plant in Rice’s Landing also comes with distribution centers in two other Pennsylvania locations. Since the water authority was created in 1951, it has been growing, acquiring additional water systems to serve more communities. It is now one of the larger water authorities in the state with 7,000 miles of pipes and serving a population of 45,000.

Lanco Electric upgraded the existing 16 MGD water treatment plant, which comes with eight filters. Here, too, it installed a new SCADA upgrade to control and monitor the process system. It also replaced the existing 15 RTUs, effluent actuators and plant instrumentation and controls.

The new system includes an array of physical and virtual high-performance servers. Lanco Electric installed copper and fiber backbone to power the network switches and a 5.7 GHz wireless radio data network for the two-way data transmission to the upgraded SCADA system to monitor and control water distribution, Landowski said. The upgraded system can control upstream and downstream water processes across 200 square miles, including a combination of 22 remote pump stations, tank sites and metering sites across three counties, all controlled as a single system.

At the same site, the EC installed a new 5 megavolt- ampere (MVA) substation, which comes with the latest, smart switchgear. To enable greater capacity, Lanco Electric also upgraded the plant raw water and distribution pump stations with smart motor drives and power components.

In addition, the EC provided and installed four 700-hp 5kV high service pumps variable frequency drives (VFDs), and two 200-hp 5 kV backwash pump VFDs.

Overall, Lanco Electric also provided and installed the new electrical system to support the new filter building extension. Phase two of this project is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in 2019.

Baden Raw Water Intake Facility generator installation
Baden Raw Water Intake Facility generator installation

Baden Raw Water Intake Facility

The third project is still underway at the West View Baden Raw Water Intake Facility and Beaver County Water Treatment Plant.

The project includes construction of a new 15 MGD, six-filter water treatment plant. In this case, Lanco is providing and installing another new SCADA system to control and monitor the full plant process system including raw water intake and pumping, with three 600-HP raw pump VFDs. It also is installing pumps for pretreatment chemicals and flocculation equipment, sedimentation basin equipment, six gravity filters, filter backwash equipment, and a UV disinfection system. It provided another new fault tolerant server, RTUs, instrumentation and controls, and a new wireless data network for two-way data transmission for the water site as well as to the existing water treatment plant on Neville Island.

One logistical challenge was a matter of getting the heavy equipment on-site, Landowski said. Lanco Electric installed a 3-megawatt generator, for example. The Superload took more than a month to transport from Wisconsin to the Pennsylvania site. A 500-ton crane was used to lift the generator. The heavy equipment was also used for switchgear lifts and rigging to get equipment into the buildings that are under construction.

Lanco Electric installed two 150-foot communication towers. These required electricians to climb the towers and conduct related pole work for radios at heights from about 30 to 150 feet.

 At completion of this project, the company will have installed, for that phase, 8,000 feet of medium voltage cabling, more than 300,000 feet of low-voltage cabling and 8,000 feet of fiber and category cables. It will have run 12,000 feet of instrument cabling.

At times, equipment delivery was delayed, and there was the logistics issue caused by the geographies of the installation, Landowsky said. Pump station and water tank sites covered multiple counties in the authority’s distribution network.

Conduit installation in West View Baden duct bank
Conduit installation in West View Baden duct bank

On each job, Lanco Electric provided about 10–15 electricians per site and the crew included about three control system engineers plus an electrical designer, project manager and project coordinator.

Despite the challenges of heavy equipment and multiple remote locations, there were very few safety issues on-site, Landowski said. As with any such project, Lanco Electric provided special training for the use of the large lifting equipment.

This highly industrialized work has required a lot of heavy equipment—including cranes, excavators, aerial lifts and bucket and line trucks.

There are common themes that appear in all three projects, Landowski said: working with contractors of varying experience levels, satisfying the priorities of all parties even when they are not always completely aligned, and managing the schedule and budget on projects with multiple moving parts.

Lanco Electric has become highly specialized at performing in this industry and on projects of this type.

“Each challenge carries with it the opportunity to learn and grow,” Landowski said. “In fact, much of the approach to the projects has become the standard at Lanco.”

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