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Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 56 / 37
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Transparent wireless assists wide area SCADA oil system

The Cockrell Ranch Waterflood project is an ambitious enhanced oil recovery project, located in the Texas panhandle. Cano Petroleum uses advanced methods to recover oil from wells that would have once been considered 'tapped'. The waterflooding process uses pressurised water to move through the formation, driving raw crude oil out of the ground from wells. The recovery field covers some 30km2 which means that wireless is the only effective way handling data. The system has now been working for two years without downtime

BOSS AUTOMATION of Spearman, TX, was brought in to design and install the discrete automation platform and a control network to monitor pressure and flow of this water into the wells. With the company's experience in automation, control and process optimisation, the project evolved into the design and implementation of a new, fully automated, self-monitored SCADA system. The system was designed to gather, assemble, and transmit data from the wells and injectors and ultimately bring it back to a master station. This allowed the day-to-day operation of the field to be monitored and controlled from these sites, and the collected data to be used to produce detailed production models.

Considerations for the system included reliability, maintainability, ease of use, as well as the ability to obtain local support. With the aid of Rexel, the local Allen-Bradley distributor, Boss Automation decided on a combination of AB hardware, Rockwell Automation software, and ProSoft Technology wireless gear.

The SCADA system consists of one ControlLogix at a main master station tied to four ControlLogix slave sub-stations and over one hundred custom-built Remote Terminal Units (RTUs), each comprised of an AB MicroLogix 1100 PLC and a ProSoft Hotspot radio. The main master station and four substations represent the backbone network of the project. Each of the four sub-stations acts as a master for its respective sub-network. All communication from the wells and injectors to the sub-stations, and from the sub-stations to the main master station, is handled over a wireless link.

At the main master station, an HMI application for the system was developed using Rockwell's RSView 32 software. The graphical interface screens provide the operators with detailed information about alarm conditions in human voice, by automatically calling the cell phone of the person on call. A RadioLinx OPC Server is used on the remote access computer to monitor the status of the radio network.

An impressive amount of data over 3500 discrete I/O as well as 1000 analogue points is gathered and moved across the wireless network at about 11Mbps to the main master station where it is then assembled into data log models, then digested by Cano's own proprietary modelling software.

Rexel was instrumental in providing logistical as well as technical support for the project. ProSoft provided engineering support for the wireless network throughout the length of the project.

ProsSoft wireless engineer Patrick Haga said that the main reason for the outcome as a success story was due to the planning and care taken before starting the project. He reckons that he spent close to 80 hours all told working with Boss Automation Control Engineers on a computer path study. The collaborative work took place both before and throughout project installation and took in the layout of the network and the strategy for PLC messaging.

The overall network covered approximately 30km2 with the longest link being only about 3km, and a bulk of the radios were positioned in an area of about 8km2 which presented a concern. 'In a radio network of this size it is imperative that care should be taken in setting up the PLC messaging,' said Haga. 'If all radios are trying to communicate at the same time, you can quickly swamp your bandwidth with RF collisions and retries.'

'This in mind, we discussed the need to create a polling style network rather than having all the radios trying to communicate at the same time. It takes a lot of planning up front to successfully install a radio installation of this size, and ProSoft's Technical Support group provides an excellent planning resource.'

The process has been reliable and consistent and makes for an essentially self-managed site. From the main SCADA monitoring station, the operators are able to see virtual diagrams of the wells and what is going on within them, as well as all the data collected by the RTUs and control units.

The project went live about two years ago and has since had near zero downtime. The wireless network works seamlessly and is virtually transparent to the user.

ProSoft Technology

Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 56 / 37
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