Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Wood Buffalo, AlbertaThe Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) completed major upgrades of their largest water treatment plant in Fort McMurray, Alberta to address capacity issues associated with continued growth in the area. Located in Northern Alberta, Fort McMurray is an urban service area in the RMWB and is well known as a major hub for oil sands production. Fort McMurray has a population of over 61,000 people.

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Eramosa was responsible for completing the SCADA system programming utilizing the Municipality’s standardized PLC hardware (Automation Direct PAC 3000 field controllers). A new control philosophy was identified by the plant’s process engineer as the upgrades include the addition of new chemical systems, Actiflo pretreatment, new filtration capacity, and a new high lift pumping station complete with new reservoir. Storage capacity at the plant was also doubled with the addition of the new reservoir. Due to the complexity of the Plant Control System (PCS) and given that the existing PLC system was outdated, many of the existing PLCs were replaced as a component of this project. In total, 13 PLCs were installed or modified on the plant network.

Our team was also responsible for the programming of the managed network hardware that was installed to implement the new redundant fiber optic ring network. The network will utilize two separate paths throughout the plant providing physical redundancy as well as hardware redundancy. PROFIBUS DP (Decentralised Peripherals) and PROFIBUS PA (Process Automation) fieldbus networks were utilized for smart instruments in the field. The PROFIBUS (Process Field Bus) network will reduce the amount of field wiring needed and increase the amount of information available to the operations and maintenance teams.

GE Proficy iFIX and Proficy Historian software were utilized in plant operations to visualize plant processes and to collect data from the water treatment plant process areas and remote water distribution sites. A redundant iFIX SCADA server was employed to house the iFIX database. For visualization, a terminal server was utilized for 14 terminal node clients located throughout the plant. A new control room was also implemented by the Municipality. It uses multi-screen operational nodes and a large format video wall to provide views of the entire water treatment and distribution system at a glance.

As a result of the capacity limitations at the existing plant, the site commissioning team was constrained to windows of plant down time to complete the upgrades. This presented start-up challenges and added complexity to the work as additional coordination efforts between every stakeholder was required.

Final project completion occurred in July 2013 at a capital cost of $83 million. Associated Engineering was the design consultant on the project and Bird Construction was the general contractor.

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