Screen views like the one pictured offer graphical interfaces with operators making operational monitoring and control easier to learn and more efficient to implement. Photo: Rockwell Automation

Today's automation, computers, and communication systems have advanced to a level that provides for the implementation of user-friendly enhancements and increased choices for management of a water or wastewater plant's operation and data acquisition.

Computer panel displays offer customized graphics of treatment and distribution systems. For example, a screen for a lift station may graphically show the station with a pump and water level and an actual digital picture of the site. In addition to showing the current operating condition of the station, this screen often will have space available for operator input of control information such as the levels at which pumps are turned on and off. Some systems also allow the operator to access control screens over the internet using a Web browser.

Also, a wide choice of communication technologies exists for transfer of information between processes and remote sites. Plants can tie control systems together through an ethernet connection to a local area network, telephone lines, fiber-optic lines, cellular networks or radio signals.

Automated systems also offer as an additional resource the ability to link Adobe Acrobat PDF files to images on the screen. By clicking on a pump, the operator can not only access the usual operation and maintenance (O&M) data screens, but also the PDF file containing the entire O&M manual for that particular pump. Some systems include the ability to access the manufacturer's Web site from this screen.

Readers can visit the following Web sites to learn more about the types of features offered by automation companies.

  • Allen-Bradley, a division of Rockwell Automation,
  • Bristol Babcock,
  • USFilter,