Controllers: Caribbean Plants Enlist Remote System to Control Operations

Through experience and in-depth knowledge of its own geographic region, P.A.S. Technologies (PAS) of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been able to identify and recommend affordable control solutions such as the implementation of the Sensaphone SCADA 3000, a product of Phonetics, Inc. of Aston, Pa. For PAS, the Sensaphone unit has achieved more than just customer satisfaction, it has also help the company grow increasingly active in the control solutions industry in the Caribbean.

As an emerging leader in providing control solutions to industries throughout the Caribbean, P.A.S. Technologies (PAS) of San Juan, Puerto Rico, represents major U.S. and European process and control instrumentation manufacturers. Long-standing relationships with these manufacturers have enabled PAS to offer cutting edge technology products and services to its customers in the water and wastewater, pharmaceutical, power utilities, petrochemicals, refining, cement, sugar, and rum industries.

Through experience and in-depth knowledge of its own geographic region, PAS has been able to identify and recommend affordable control solutions such as the implementation of the Sensaphone SCADA 3000, a product of Phonetics, Inc. of Aston, Pa. For PAS, the Sensaphone unit has achieved more than just customer satisfaction, it has also help the company grow increasingly active in the control solutions industry in the Caribbean.

Learning by Doing

In the early 1990s, PAS, a relative newcomer to the control solutions industry, was working with a pharmaceutical company to remedy a large hydrocarbon spill at a fuel distribution center. The spill contaminated a nearby private farmland and eventually cost the pharmaceutical company millions of dollars to settle.

In the aftermath, PAS was challenged to identify and implement a control system that would avoid future accidents by safely and accurately monitoring hydrocarbon levels in electrical generators, boilers, and fire and pump day tanks. Similar spills in tank dikes and hydrocarbon transfer sequences were also of major concern. One of the key objectives was to find a monitoring system that offered dial-out alarm notification to plant personnel off-site. Additionally, the pharmaceutical company sought a monitoring system that was easy to program, upgrade, and operate.

Research by Alfredo Agelviz, General Manager of PAS, identified the Sensaphone SCADA 3000 as the solution. "The Sensaphone SCADA 3000 unit was full of expectations," Agelviz said. "Its technical specifications and abundant, practical features demonstrated to us that this was a powerful product."

Most important among the Sensaphone features were the dial-out option and the critical data recording capability that allowed the pharmaceutical company to collect, store, and transmit critical data either on-demand or at regular intervals.

It was the first implementation of the Sensaphone remote monitoring system for PAS Technologies and its customers, but not the last.

Continuing Reliability

In the seven years since that hydrocarbon spill, PAS has continued to recommend the implementation of the Sensaphone system to other clients, including the Compania de Agua de Puerto Rico (Water Company of Puerto Rico).

The water company, on behalf of the government, provides the island?s nearly four million residents with potable water and sanitary sewage systems. At the time that PAS Technologies was consulted, the company had been experiencing difficulties with its current monitoring system.

"We were working with the water company on a remote telemetry project and we were looking for a solution that could meet the demands of that application," Agelviz said. "It involved control systems for the company?s potable water pumping stations, potable water distribution metering station, and a wastewater lift station."

The difficulty, Agelviz said, was inherent to the water company's existing remote terminal units (RTU). More than 70 were in use at several highly visible water distribution tanks throughout the San Juan metropolitan area, each requiring on-site monitoring and inspection. The process was inefficient, costly and time consuming.

PAS company officials recommended that the water company test the Sensaphone SCADA 3000 remote monitoring system at specific sites. The primary advantage, Agelviz said, was that the Sensaphone system could bring all monitoring services to a single location while providing updated features, most notably being the remote dial-out alarm notification.

"The Sensaphone SCADA 3000 solved a number of problems for us and the water company," Agelviz said. "First, the original RTUs came in many different parts and were located in numerous places; now, we're able to remotely monitor different devices - all from one comprehensive control unit - without the increased time and expense of maintaining a central station. Second, the installation of the Sensaphone was not complicated and did not require special mounting, it was very compact and integrated into only one package. So we were able to quickly provide our customer with a reliable solution."

The Sensaphone system allowed the water company to monitor pressure transducers, flowmeters, water levels, timers, temperature, power failure, and built-in equipment alarms at a variety of sites. The system also offered the flexibility for data logging, downloadable event logging, graphing, and polling. The systems' data recording feature collects, stores, and sends data to and from industrial controllers, chart recorders, and network servers. Users are immediately notified about environmental changes and alarm conditions, which helps minimize contamination, overflow, and costly repairs. PAS officials initiated four additional applications at the same Compania de Agua de Puerto Rico, which is developing an island-wide data gathering system.

To date, P.A.S. Technologies has implemented a total of seven Sensaphone SCADA 3000 units for its clients, including one installed at a prestigious resort on the east coast of Puerto Rico to monitor its wastewater plant and another two at pharmaceutical manufacturers used for data acquisition management.

For further information, phone 610-558-2700, visit www.sensaphone.com.

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