Thursday, 19 November 2009

Emergency Callout Groundwater Treatment

A call-out to a groundwater treatment plant earlier in the week showed a few interesting problems. "Dirty" power from a failing generator caused the failure of a single instrument (a Siemens Hydroranger), but the knock-on effect was total plant failure.

The software programmer had "interpreted" the requirements of the Functional Design Specification in such a way that this instrument became critical for plant operation. This was especially annoying as there was a backup instrument working on a more robust principle, but no way to switch plant operation over to this alternative instrument without a programmer on site.

Of course at the point where I was called, the working day was coming to an end, the plant's feed lagoon was on the point of overtopping, and it was raining. I love a challenge!

Naturally there was an expedient way to get the plant to go again, but the fix was a little questionable. I consequently thought it best to connect a web-cam into the system so that I could see and hear what was going on remotely, as well as being able to see what the SCADA shows. All is now well with the plant.

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