In today’s world, it’s unusual to get to work on an urban development project that’s entirely greenfield, but Emerson is currently involved in just such a development with several product families including, quite notably, the discrete control and software solutions. Few projects could be more challenging in terms of both environmental and technical challenges. Here are some details.
NEOM, the largest greenfield urban development project in the world, is currently under construction in Saudi Arabia. The project is a new metropolitan area incorporating a large city center, plus island, beach and mountain developments. Drakken, a prestigious engineering and systems integration company based in Dubai, UAE, with a strong presence in the Middle East and Africa region, was selected as the main automation contractor (MAC) to provide the automation solution for the water distribution system. This system, which extends over approximately 65km of coastal terrain and 75km of mountains, includes a water desalination plant as a freshwater source, pipelines, pumping stations and storage tanks. It currently enables the delivery of more than 50,600 m3/day of bulk desalinated water to the core development area for construction and human consumption. To build the water distribution network, Drakken required a control and supervision system to ensure minimal water loss due to leakage and evaporation. It had to provide a scalable solution that could expand with the extensive new development; be cyber secure; offer high availability with no disruption; and connect highly disparate third-party systems. And, of course, it all had to be done in highly challenging terrain.
Drakken has Emerson-certified automation engineers on staff and worked with Emerson to provide a total system for the water distribution supervision. The system includes PACSystems™ control solutions and the Movicon.NExT™ platform connected through the cloud by PACEdge software, plus Emerson switches and SolaHD™ power supplies. All the equipment is integrated into the company asset management system using Emerson AMS software.
Drakken employed PACSystems RX3i high-availability, redundant control systems at over 20 pumping stations and the water distribution center to control the pump and valve operations. PACSystems edge controllers installed at each location collect, analyze and filter operational data on a Linux engine and are ready to connect and send data to the cloud via the MQTT protocol. In addition, the edge controllers interface seamlessly with a wide range of third-party devices such as flow meters, RFID systems at each TFS station, and many others.
The Movicon.NExT platform interfaces with the PACSystems controllers and collects and analyzes data for leak detection and leak location across the pipeline every 10 meters. To provide for the ongoing expansion of the water distribution as the city grows, the Movicon.NExT platform is scalable to support unlimited tags on redundant servers.
PACSystems controllers perform high-speed data acquisition and control in a complex architecture with multiple fiber optic rings using various industrial protocols to connect to more than 500 external devices. Tag data is historized with a five-year storage capacity, failure prediction and proactive redressal, leading to better capital utilization, reduced operating expenses and faster return on investment. The Movicon.NExT platform automatically imports programmable logic controller (PLC) tags, preventing errors and saving commissioning time. To further support expansion and ease of use, the platform’s web client allows remote access through any mobile device.
Critically, the PACSystems solution operates in temperature ranges from -40°C to 70°C right from startup. Fortunately, all aspects of the controllers and industrial computers have been engineered for reliability in harsh environments, from the use of all industrial-grade components to its fanless design. Emerson incorporates patented thermal monitoring technology with sophisticated passive cooling techniques to provide the highest performance, fanless industrial computing platform that can operate in the extended temperature ranges. Also, the humidity range from 5% to 95% non-condensing helps assure availability everywhere.
In addition, in the face of rising hacker interference in municipal systems, PACSystems control solutions deliver strong cybersecurity with Achilles 2 certification that prevents any denial-of-service (DoS) or man-in-the-middle cyberattacks or any unauthorized firmware changes. They are designed with extensive, multi-level security – secure by design so users can verify and validate the integrity of vital system components. It incorporates defense-in-depth to mitigate attacks and protect at every layer through robust end-to-end security. Secure communications helps prevent attackers from gaining unauthorized access to the controller.
The continued growth of both the city and the water distribution network will be well worth watching. View the case study here.