Success Story: Ridgeline Pipe


Ridgeline Pipe Manufacturing’s New Integrated,Information-Enabled Facility Delivers Parts Fast to Electrical Customers

Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture™ System Helps PVC Pipe Maker Improve Quality, Ease MRO and Out-pace Competition.

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Windows XP and SCADA Systems

Windows XP is no longer supported. Now what?


With Microsoft's announcement of the dropping of XP support, many questions are left unanswered. How does this affect my SCADA and should I be concerned? Here are some of the things you should consider...

If your company requires you to keep your system(s) up to date, then migrating to a new PC with Windows 7 Pro is option you will want to pursue. Windows “Pro” is the industry standard for SCADA PCs. Other versions, although supported by most SCADA systems, have come under fire from integrators and install technicians for various issues. 64 and 32 bit systems can be supported based on the requirements of the software being installed on the system.

After your XP to Windows 7 Pro conversion, your next item will be to update your SCADA software to make it compatible with the new operating system. Each SCADA vendor has different requirements to assist in the upgrade process. Some require upgrade to the licenses while others give you upgrades through certain contracts.

Key components in this process are the compatibility of the new SCADA software with your existing process. This can require an addition of a 3rd party I/O server to allow communication to the system already in place. A rule of thumb is to look at the weakest link within the system and use that as the starting point to begin the upgrade process.

Other items to consider are components like Panelview displays that are running older versions of graphics applications. Bringing a new system online will not allow changes to that panelview unless it is upgraded to new panel hardware. In some cases the panelviews and graphics can be upgraded and imported into the new systems without the cost of new equipment, but likely will need to be updated to be compatible with the upgraded software package. These scenarios are just that. Each potential upgrade needs to be looked at on a case by case situation.

If your SCADA PC is not connected to the internet there is no real security risk. It’s the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” With that said, a recommendation would be to get another XP workstation and bring a redundant backup on site to bring some security to your operation. If you lose your SCADA system to hardware or software failure, you will be left to upgrade anyway and doing so will take time and resources to get back online. You may have the resources but time will be against you if you need to monitor your process.

TAG can provide a free assessment and quote to get you better understanding your system as it sits and where you would need to go. Please feel free to contact for more information.

Gary Jenks


The Automation Group, Inc.

Success Story: City of Junction City

Collaborative Effort Produces Great Results...

The City of Junction City has been upgrading their Water and Waste Water Controls Systems to provide better control and alarm notification. The City sent out a Request For Proposal to some of the top Systems Integration Houses in Oregon for selection of their “City's System Integrator of Record” to form a partnering approach to their growing Integration needs. After review of all the RFP's the City Selected 3 Integration Houses to interview and TAG was selected for the Role.

One of the challenges of Designing a SCADA system is to match the Visualization Package to the System being supplied and what is existing to what best fits the City's needs. TAG worked hand in hand with the City to select the best package for the SCADA System to allow the City to have continuity between the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition and the Programmable Logic Controllers to allow better response to issues that may arise including visual representation and Redundant Alarming.

The New Rockwell SCADA System is one of the Top Leaders in SCADA Systems and employs a Wireless 900Mhz Telemetry System that communicates to 4 Remote wells and 10 in progress Lift Stations giving seamless control, reporting and alarming to meet the high demand of a growing City. The Wireless system was split into 2 Radio Systems to allow separation and expandability to 10x the current size. The selected SCADA architecture was the Rockwell Automation Factory Talk View SE Distributive Server/Client System. This system allows us to house the Server at a local area in the facility so that clients may connect on the SCADA Ethernet network. The city has 4 local Clients with 2 remote clients connected over Fiber at the Domestic Water Pump Station touch panel PC and another at the Remote Elevated South Tank for DOC. All SCADA system Components have multi-level password authentication so that only the people with Administrative rights can change critical points. Alarming is always a big concern in a System so we designed the primary alarm system to be an Antx Hardware autodialer system as it communicates directly with the PLC and uses conventional telephone lines and a secondary Aquavx cellular dialer located local to the remote stations to server as a redundant backup due to communication loss from the SCADA system.

The City partnered in a new R&D project to develop a new level of Control/Accessibility through Apples Ipad2 and Cisco secure technology to develop a hand held solution for operators to securely view their SCADA system in the field over a 3G Verizon Service giving the operator the ability to respond to Alarms immediately and minimizing overflow situations among other alarm conditions. This concept was a spin-off of the already proven Laptop and Smart Phone solution utilized in newer plants today. The City wanted to enable IP based traffic from outside network sources (ipad, Laptop, Smart Phone) but not combine their high traffic internal network and Internet trafic, so a network separation was established at the source through Cisco Firewall Technology keeping the process control network separate.

TAG is now registered in the OUS retainer program.

Retainer Program

The Retainer Program includes a list of pre-approved consultants and contractors who have already entered into a contract to provide services at a fixed rate of compensation and on certain terms.  When Oregon University System (OUS) institutions have a project, they contact those firms on the retainer to quickly procure and execute a supplement to the contract for the specific project. When requesting bids, institutions must contact a certain number of firms in the Retainer Program based on the estimated contract price for the project (OAR Division 63).

The Oregon University System can issue retainer contracts to facilitate cost savings and other efficiencies when performing small capital construction projects. Small projects are defined as construction projects under $1,000,000 for professional consulting services, and under $1,000,000 for construction services

New Chemtrac PC3400 Particle Counter

A Few Features That Set Chemtrac’s PC3400 Apart From Other Particle Counters

Calibration Made Simple

The PC3400 is the first Particle Counter designed for use in drinking water treatment plants that has
truly made the calibration process uncomplicated for the end user. Simply access the calibration
features via the front panel keypad and perform automatic sizing calibration of any selected size range
in seconds. No computer or software is required. With the PC3400, the customer is no longer
dependent upon the manufacturer for calibration of their instrument.

No Computer or Software Required For Setup

Most other Particle Counters require you to connect to a computer in order to change size range
settings, alarm set-points, addresses for MODBUS communications, etc. The Chemtrac PC3400, which
boasts a powerful ARM processor, is a completely self-contained unit providing a front panel keypad
that can be used to change any of the end user settings. For those times when it is more practical to do
so, the PC3400 still offers the option of changing settings over RS-232 or RS-485 using MODBUS or serial
terminal commands.

Convenient Large Display with Graphical Trending

We outfitted the PC3400 with a large LCD graphical display (3.5” x 2”) allowing for more information to
be clearly displayed. The large screen layout enables the user to simultaneously view the particle counts
in up to 8 size ranges, where other particle counters display only one size range at a time. For those
users that prefer less data, the screen can be changed to just display Total Counts in an easy to read
larger font. And a graphing feature, combined with the data logging capabilities, allows for an up to
date trend plot of the 64 most recent recorded values.

Data Logging

The PC3400 was designed to function as part of a network of Particle Counters as well as an
independent device that requires no external devices (computer, PLC, data recorder) to perform its job.
On-board memory capable of holding up to 65,000 sample strings is just one more feature that helps
this Particle Counter stand out while standing alone.

TAG provides solutions for Row River Water District

Row River Water District has purchased a new Siemens Water Filtration System to upgrade their existing water plant.  TAG was selected to provide and install a new SCADA system to graphically display the status and operation of the new filtration system.

TAG has worked closely with the water district and their engineering firm to integrate the existing water supply to the filters and storage tanks. TAG-INC upgraded the site security systems in order to monitor the site and protect the water quality integrity.

Netarts Wastewater

TAG-INC has been selected as the Systems Integrator for the Netarts Waste Water Expansion Project. TAG-INC is excited to work with our new client to identify the unique challenges of the coastal terrain and implement a SCADA system that will meet their needs.

TAG-INC ability to team up with local talents and integrate concurrently with all trades on a project will lead to a successful project.

Tim Dugan- Compression Engineering article

Why Sequencers Have Problems and How to Do Them Right

Tim Dugan, P.E. President, Compression Engineering Corporation

As readers of this publication know, there are many ways to save energy in industrial compressed air systems. One common supply side technology implemented is a “sequencer.” These can provide cost-effective savings. Unfortunately, many of them are turned off, or are not running properly. The goals of this article are to show why sequencers often have problems, and to demonstrate how avoid problems by proper system integration and controls design.

Introduction to Sequencers:

Sequencers are control systems that sequentially stage multiple industrial compressor systems, running only the minimum number required, based on one pressure signal, usually with only one running in a part-load mode (“trim”) and the rest either fully loaded (“base-load”) or off. In this article, we are describing three basic types of sequencers based on their algorithm, “cascade”, “target”, and “custom”. The first two are for “discrete” control only, using binary or relay interface, best suited for load-unload screw or reciprocating compressors. Custom sequencers can be applied to proportional control, which includes variable speed (VS) and centrifugal compressors.

Cascade Sequencers:

The simplest sequencers use a “cascade algorithm”. It is the sequential starting and loading of compressors based on falling pressure, and the reverse for rising pressure. This algorithm comes from the pre-computer age. Sequencers started their life as a mechanically-driven pressure switch selectors, using relays, cams and timers. They work like this: as pressure drops, the next compressor starts and loads, and then the next starts and loads if pressure drops further. As pressure rises, the reverse occurs. The last on will load and unload once the number of compressors running stabilizes. The sequencer swaps the order around to even out wear. This was coded into simple programmed logic when programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and embedded controllers were introduced to industry. The cascade algorithm is best suited for positive displacement and reciprocating compressors. Cascade sequencers have a wide operating pressure differential.

Target Sequencers:

With the advent of PLC and embedded controller technology, different algorithms have been designed. One common alternative to the cascade algorithm is the “target” algorithm. There are variants, but the simplest uses one pressure band for the trim compressor and a wider pressure band to trigger base-load compressors. The sequencer manages the number of base-load compressors running without having to wait for pressure to continue to drop again. The first time the pressure drops to the lower “base-load” point, the trim compressor is already fully loaded and the #1 base starts. The second time it hits the same base-load point, the #2 starts, and so on. The reverse happens at the high limit of the wider pressure band, but in reverse. Another way is to use timers instead of the wider pressure band to determine if the next compressor needs to start. Target sequencers have a narrow operating pressure differential.

These common designs seem simple. In a “perfect” world, implementation would be simple also. However, simple sequencers described above assume the following system characteristics for smooth implementation:

  •  All of the compressors are the same vintage, make, type, and size.

  •  All are in the same location

  •  All can run load-unload and be remotely started and stopped

  •  All are plumbed to a common header, generously sized, preferably before dyers

  •  There is adequate storage.

Unfortunately, the systems that they are being implemented in often don’t look like that.

Custom Sequencers:

The sky is the limit here, but we will comment briefly on three algorithms:

  •  "Flow-based”. The optimal number and size of base-load compressors are run at any time based on total flow, not strict sequential order. A more advanced processor and algorithm is required. Significantly different size or type of base-load compressors make this algorithm a good fit.

  •  “Load-sharing”. Multiple proportional compressors are run at the same pressure and percent load. The management system “bumps” the local settings to make this happen. This expands the effective range of efficient trim operation, making a system more stable and reducing blow-off. Multiple (3 or more) centrifugal compressors of similar size are a good fit for this algorithm.

  •  “Hybrid base-trim”. Trim compressor(s) are run by either a cascade or target algorithm, sometimes at an elevated pressure and behind a pressure-flow controller. Base-load compressors are controlled by a separate algorithm, and run at a lower pressure, often final system pressure. A good fit would be a mix of centrifugals and screws.

Common Sequencer Problems:

1. Improper algorithm for the situation. For instance, cascade control for centrifugal compressors. This all but guarantees that one centrifugal will be in blow-off most of the time, wasting about 75% of its full load power.

2. Lack of a champion, leading to controls being defeated.

3. Control logic and wiring not changed when equipment is changed, particularly compressors.

4. Not all compressors are operating in “auto” properly. This can be caused by:

  •   Incomplete or improper interface wiring and/or programming, most often on the compressor side.
  •   Compressor is manually put in “local” for real or perceived reliability reasons.

5. Multiple compressors are in part load. Three common examples:

  •   Incomplete integration: The minimum command is given to the compressor by the sequencer, “make air”. If the compressor is making little or no air because of local unloading or modulation, the sequencer will start and load the next compressor at part load. The sequencer is “unaware” of this.
  •   Improper local setting: The local modulation settings are in the same range as the sequencer settings. The sequencer starts the compressor once, but pressure never gets high enough to unload it. The local settings reduce capacity first. Then another compressor ends up being called to start when demand increases. The sequencer is “unaware” of this also.
  •   Compressors far apart: Local controls trigger a compressor to operate out of phase with master control input, which is far away from it.

6. Short cycling (rapid loading/unloading). This can cause oil carryover in oil flooded screw compressors and reliability problems with oil free screw and centrifugal. It has a variety of causes:

  •   Operating pressure differential too tight.
  •   Inadequate control storage, causing rapid pump-up and bleed-down times.
  •   Excessive pressure differential across treatment equipment. Effective compressor control band is reduced by the dynamic pressure drop across the treatment. This often is caused by a compressor being isolated behind an individual restrictive dryer and filter.
  •   Different local and sequencer control points. The sequencer might be using pressure downstream from the dryer and the compressor unloads based on a pressure upstream.

7. Excessive motor starts. This can damage the motor. Besides the “short cycling” issues, it can be caused by:

  •   Timers in sequencer either not adjusted properly or can’t be adjusted.
  •   Sequencer not tuned properly.

8. Improper integration of a VS compressor. This can cause the following:

  •   The VS compressor is controlled in a discrete manner, it could either base-load (full speed), shut off, or run uncontrolled, depending on the settings. All VS compressors control their own speed by their internal controls, so a simple sequencer is usually unaware of these problems.
  •   The VS could hunt, “chasing” the compressor that is being loaded and unloaded by the sequencer. Lack of storage, tuning, or location of compressor could cause this.

Problems Unique to “Vendor Sequencers”:

Since these are designed and sold by compressor companies, they are usually intended for integration with all new compressors from the same manufacturer. They are typically based on proprietary code running on low cost embedded controllers, and usually use some form of either cascading or targeting. Some of the lower cost sequencers are what I call “told you to make air” controllers, with no feedback that the compressor is actually doing that. Most vendor sequencers don’t incorporate intelligent feedback for running, load or fault. Some incorporate monitoring, but only points that are already monitored by the compressor controller. They are often low cost (less than $10,000) and appear simpler to implement than other options. Some unique problems are:

  •   Sequencer is sold as a component on a project, with no integration service. Underselling is perfect way to have under-performance.
  •   The compressors don’t have the same vintage control panels and interfaces. Oftentimes, these sequencers require an up to date controller on all the compressors, or the interface becomes quite primitive. You either get all the interface or just a single “told you to make air” contact. Not much in between.
  •   The algorithm is not known to the field engineer and customer. Proprietary controllers try to be too smart. Unfortunately, if you don’t know its basic logic you can’t get it adjusted properly.

Problems Unique to “Third-party Sequencers”:

These are sequencers that are designed and sold by third parties, often PLC-based open architecture. They have a pre-programmed algorithm that is adapted to each site. They typically have relay interface or a generic network interface that has to be programmed or adapted in each case. Some are customizable for customer networks, data collection, etc. They are typically mid cost ($10,000 to $25,000 before customization). They usually come with a field engineer start-up included. Some unique problems are:

  •   Supplier might not understand compressor issues well. Their strength in controls knowledge can be offset by their lower understanding of the compressors themselves.
  •   Sequencer might not be able to interface with compressor controller’s full communications capability.
  •   Supplier has little local support after project is completed. It is made by a small company that has a thinly-stretched field engineering staff.

How to “Do Sequencers Right”

Here are our recommendations for a successful “sequencer” project that continues to work for the life of the system:

1. Don’t call it a “sequencer”. That implies it is a simple add-on component, which it certainly is not. It is an integration project that happens to have master controls as a part of it. A better term for it is a “compressed air management system”.

2. Identify a project “champion” in-house who has some understanding of controls and of the compressed air system.

3. Select a controls architecture that is best suited to manage the compressed air system. Keep in mind that compressed air is an essential utility that is very expensive to operate, and even more expensive if it fails. Skimping on controls and particularly monitoring can end up being a bad decision in the long run.

4. Perform a system audit first. Assess the existing system in as much detail as is cost-effective. We recommend the following:

  •   Data-log compressor room primary variables for about 1-2 weeks.
  •   Calculate total compressed air flow profile, total power, and system efficiency (acfm/kW).
  •   Develop several alternative project concepts, from retrofit controls to new equipment, depending on budget.
  •   Develop a preliminary compressed air management system specification.

Some compressor vendors are qualified to do this. Independent auditors have significant value as well.

5. Select the best firm to design and install the compressed air management system based on the architecture issues and audit results.

6. Develop approval drawings for the management system, and review them. This should include a written sequence of logic.

7. Select a contractor to install the management system. They need to be capable of working closely with the auditor, local electrician/engineer, management system supplier, and compressor vendor. If other mechanical issues are being done at the same time (storage, piping, dryers), consider making them a subcontractor to one turn-key contractor.

8. Get compressor interfaces identified and modified first. Test them to make sure they are all ready to be controlled by the management system.

9. After approval, build and program the management system.

10. Have all mechanical and instrumentation issues completed and tested.

11. Deliver the management system.

12. Land wires and/or network, test interfaces, and start up the system. It should be run through failure modes and exception modes sufficient to tune the system.

13. Collect data for at least one week and deliver it to the management system supplier or auditor for review. If possible, allow them to have direct remote access to pull data, either through the plant HMI system or a GSM modem.

14. Develop a tuning/commissioning report based on this data.

15. Perform final tuning.

16. Document the system well. A three ring binder in the maintenance and system champion’s office. At a minimum, include an overall P&ID, electrical schematic(s) for controller and interface wiring, and written sequence of operation.

17. Hang an engraved sign on the wall near the controller with the approved set points.

18. Train the champion and operators.

The most important issues that affect compressed air management system performance are people and business related. Are the right people doing the right thing with the right technology at the right price in the right way and in the right sequence? Implement an integration project properly, and the sequencer will have a much better chance of working properly.

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