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M2M WaterThe Department of Water Management in City of Durham, North Carolina is in the process of upgrading the city’s water system to keep pace with the city’s growth. As a part of the upgrade, Durham constructed two new water towers which collectively store  4.5 million gallons of water. The new equipment within the towers needed to be incorporated into the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system current used to monitor and control the city’s water system. Adding to the complexity of the system design, the pumps, controllers, and other equipment must be able to communicate directly to other components within each tower and water plant (the City operates two water treatment plants). The City of Durham was referred to USAT Corp. for assistance in designing the sophisticated data communications the project network topology required. In order to hit critical deadlines, a compressed timeline was requested.

Once engaged, USAT Corp. was able to determine that a commonly used one-modem-to-one-location network architecture would not work. The Allen-Bradley programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and controls panels pre-existing in Durham’s infrastructure were incapable of Port Address Translation (PAT) and without this functionality the network design would need to change. Without PAT, each piece of equipment on each tower’s LAN would require its own individual wireless gateway, data line, static IP address, and other equipment in order to facilitate cross network communication. This development was a major hurdle, because if the costs for the equipment and Verizon Wireless 4G data plans required for the system upgrade increased, then Durham’s project budget would have to increase, which was not a welcome change. However, faced with this technical challenge, USAT was able innovate a solution to successfully work around the problem and to avoid an increase to the project budget. Using a combination of a Verizon Private Network and Sierra Wireless AirLink GX450 wireless network gateway SCADA water systemUSAT Corp. was able to overcome the technical hurdles within Durham’s system. Because the GX450’s ALEOS operating system supported a network technology protocol called Dynamic Mobile Network Routing (DMNR) USAT was able to leverage this functionality: DMNR enabled each individual component within the LAN to communication directly with other components of the SCADA water system in near real-time. After USAT Corp. implemented DMNR, the network topology proved effective. Detailed wireless network coverage analysis–which led to specific antenna recommendations–completed USAT’s solution. Leveraging USAT’s expertise, Durham’s Department of Water Management was able to complete this enhancement to their water SCADA on time and within their budget.

About USAT Corp. – USAT Corp. specializes in improving the efficiency of our clientele’s mission critical operations by implementing wireless communication solutions for data acquisition. USAT provides, configures, and deploys the exact durable, field-tested intelligent network devices that best fit the business requirements and budget of a wireless connectivity initiative.

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