New Lift Station Pump Rises to the Occasion
The Village of Bolingbrook, IL, needed to replace the failing pumps in their lift station with new pumps. The village hired Lenna Controls, Ltd., to get it done.
Lenna Controls needed the newly replaced lift station pumps (using Modbus) to communicate properly with the village’s existing Allen-Bradley SLC5/05 PLC.
After considering an expensive solution, Lenna Controls began “looking for some gizmo that would not require programming to be added to the PLC.” A quick online search brought Real Time Automation’s 460ETCMC to their attention.
Have You Ever Replaced Lift Station Pumps in Sub-Freezing Weather?
The existing lift station pumps in the Village of Bolingbrook, IL, were inadequate and kept failing. It was decided that a new prepackaged pumping system needed to be purchased. The purchase was made, but without regard to the communication protocol that the village was using and was planning on using for the foreseeable future. They had a connectivity issue.
The system manufacturer provided the data and alarms required but offered little post-purchase support. Lenna Controls considered hardwiring data to another PLC but determined that solution unviable. As Alena Horsky-Gust of Lenna Controls, Ltd., explained, “It would be another ‘piece’ that would have to be maintained, possibly replaced. And in the field, it had to be powered up, wired and kept warm in another electrical enclosure in the middle of nowhere.”
To complicate matters further, the PLC on the receiving end of the data was a legacy Allen-Bradley SLC5/05. After contacting the pump system manufacturer, Lenna Controls was informed that there was Modbus communication available on the unit and was given a generic Modbus data address. But that was it. “I assumed the response time from a Modbus converter manufacturer to a small application like mine would not be quick,” said Horsky-Gust, “so I figured I’d see what I could find online and then see what kind of response and support I would get.”
“I was familiar with ProSoft®,” Horsky-Gust continued, “but the village had cost restrictions and I needed to find something more reasonable.” So, Horsky-Gust conducted a quick online search and contacted Real Time Automation. She figured if the RTA solution worked, she and her team would have a cost-effective solution for communicating data and be able to replace the remaining pump systems throughout the village without issue.
“I had excellent pre-sale support from RTA,” she said. “I got a prompt response and the person on the other end analyzed my application and recommended which product to purchase, which showed up very quickly with easy-to-use installation instructions.”
In the middle of January, Horsky-Gust and her team followed the step-by-step instructions to establish communication with the RTA gateway. However, connecting to the pump system proved more complicated. “After waiting a week for a callback from the manufacturer, we finally got an Ethernet address to use on the unit and an address for the Modbus unit. RTA spend a lot of time with us while we were outside in the snow trying to get synced up. RTA provided us with the links to test our end of it and it was determined that the pump system was not setup properly. So, after the manufacturer’s tech properly setup their unit and gave us a viable Ethernet address, the communication was established immediately. There was no need for any special programming and ‘Voila!’ everybody was talking.”
The final step was to facilitate radio communication. Lenna Controls used the old PLC Ethernet address on the PLC side of the gateway, unplugged the test PLC and plugged the radio in instead. “Again, voila! The communication made it via several different subnets to the master PLC. Now, everything works, and it works well.”
Real Time Automation has been delivering innovative communications solutions to the industrial automation market since 1989. RTA products seamlessly integrate process equipment so control engineers and integrators can collect, analyze and interpret the real-time data needed to improve productivity and maximize efficiencies.
RTA specializes in making easy-to-use connectivity products, including industrial protocol gateways, embedded source code stacks and customized OEM solutions. RTA’s products are used on factory floors all over the world and come backed by industry-leading Enginerd® tech support to help save time, money and aggravation. And, RTA products come with a 5-year warranty, are made in America and are always in stock, ready to ship the same day (with orders placed before 2:00 PM Central time).
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