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Connecting Multiple Remote Control Panels with Fiber Optic Cable

CP interior, remote control interior

A soil remediation project uses fiber optic cable for connecting multiple remote control panels, allowing control and monitoring from one centrally located main panel.

Horlick is a manufacturer of industrial controls used in a wide variety of applications. A single control panel is commonly used to control an individual piece of equipment or a localized process that may consist of pumps, blowers, heaters, etc. For larger projects, or projects where the equipment is separated by a great distance, several control panels may be needed to integrate the process. These control panels are typically networked together and controlled from a central location.

Application: 10 Remote Control Panels for Separate Wells Controlled By Main Panel

This case study describes a groundwater remediation installation in South Carolina that required control panels to be installed at 10 separate recovery wells. They needed to be remotely controlled and monitored by an additional “main” control panel in a central location.

CP interior, MAE2
The Main Control Panel

Solution: Connecting Multiple Remote Control Panels Via Fiber Optic Cables

Due to the distances involved and client preference, there were three options to facilitate communication between the eleven control panels:

  1. Direct wire
  2. Fiber Optic Cable
  3. Leased Cellular Network

The project specification allowed for a single programmable logic controller (PLC) within the main control panel, combined with distributed inputs and outputs (I/O) to be located in the individual well control panels. The original design specification showed preference for a leased cellular wireless network to be used as the means of communicating between the control panels. The importance of maintaining a reliable and robust connection between the control panels, combined with the fact that the furthest well control panel was located 4,000 feet away from the main control panel, led the Horlick Company to propose a fiber optic network for the communication platform. Since the client already had to trench for the water piping, Horlick felt that adding the fiber optic cable runs to each well would be less expensive than if they needed to dig a trench just for the cable. Plus, once installed, there would be no further cost for the fiber optic cable solution. If the client had chosen the cellular approach, initial equipment costs would have been compounded by monthly network maintenance fees during the lifetime of the project. Additionally, there was also the uncertainty of required cellular equipment replacement in the event of carrier technology upgrades.

Result: Lasting Network with No Cellular Fees or Need for Technology Upgrades

The client ultimately agreed with Horlick’s approach and Horlick provided a main control panel with an Allen-Bradley Compact Logix PLC and 10 remote well control panels with Allen-Bradley distributed I/O. Each well control panel contains motor controls for the groundwater pumps. The level and flow rate from each well are monitored and the flow is controlled through the operation of a modulating control valve associated with each well. The parameters, set points and operation of each recovery well are controlled from the main control panel. All of this data is communicated over the fiber network. The fiber optic cable is terminated on N-Tron FX series Ethernet switches that are utilized to complete the network. To date, the system has been running without incident and the client can take comfort in the fact that neither the weather, cellular tower uptime, nor radio interference will have any impact on the effectiveness of their system.

More Project Details

Horlick supplied the control panels to Mid-Atlantic Environmental Equipment, Inc. (MAE2). The control system has been designed and manufactured to operate groundwater recovery and treatment equipment associated with extraction of a large volatile organic compound (VOC) plume in the aquifer.

The end customer, a valve manufacturer in South Carolina for over 40 years, has allowed solvents to contaminate the soil around the factory. Since the solvents are water soluble, the solvents have leached into the local aquifer and have contaminated the water table in a nearby residential community. With all of the wells in operation, the system has the capacity to run at 275 gallons per minute while it draws down the water and allows the contaminants to be removed.

MAE2’s system included 10 groundwater pumps, combined with equalization and storage tank transfer pumps, and dual air stripper blowers that are all controlled by the Horlick control system. This is a project that was in discussion and preparation for eight years. The site startup occurred in September of 2016 and the cleanup is expected to last for about 20 years before remediation is complete.

“Horlick control panels are laid out well and use quality materials” said Shawn Evans, Vice President for MAE2. “Horlick has a remarkable range of products and capability; they can provide control panels that are single use basic panels all the way up to entire systems. We never use anyone else for our control panels as Horlick provides a very good product at a fair price.”

About Mid-Atlantic Environmental Equipment
Mid-Atlantic Environmental Equipment, Inc. (MAE2) has been a leading manufacturer of environmental systems since 1996. MAE2 is committed to building the best environmental remediation and wastewater treatment systems available. They are dedicated to delivering systems quickly and cost effectively, with outstanding customer support before and after the sale.

MAE2 has the experience and the equipment to design, integrate and deliver the highest quality systems at a competitive price. Their custom designed, self-contained and transportable groundwater and wastewater treatment systems are individually manufactured and delivered directly to the customer’s site where MAE2 provides startup assistance.

Mid-Atlantic Environmental Equipment, Inc. is also one of three companies in the U.S. certified to manufacture remediation systems for Chevron. In addition, MAE2 is a woman-owned corporation with certifications through Virginia Woman Business Enterprises and Fulton County Georgia WOB and is CCR registered.

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