Vic utility rolls out $1.5 monitoring system

South East Water is rolling out its $1.5 million infrastructure monitoring software across Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula.

Expected to be completed in August, the iFix monitoring software implementation will enable the company to monitor its 209 sewage pumping stations, 81 water pumping stations, 71 reservoirs and major water tanks, 10 local sewage treatment plants as well as 7783 kilometres of water supply mains; and 7020 kilometres of sewer mains.

The iFix implementation will replace South East Water's custom-developed "Monitor" supervisory control and data access (SCADA) software. As part of the upgrade, the utility is also implementing data collection and analysis software, PI Historian from OSI, and alarm notification software, Win911 from Specter Instruments.

The utility has recently completed the upgrade in its operations in Melbourne's outer suburbs of Mornington, Hastings, Rosebud and Blind Bight, and has started the roll out in metropolitan Melbourne.iFix gives South East Water a real-time picture of its operations as well as alerting staff to potential problems at their desktops, or remotely, via the company's intranet, pagers and mobile phones. PI Historian lets the company analyse historical data such as temperature, rainfall and water usage patterns, which will be used for future planning tasks such as design specifications for water pipes.

Plant engineering and software applications manager Glenn Pyman said iFix provides the ability to respond to problems immediately.

"Also, the "Monitor" SCADA software is a very old proprietary system, fewer and fewer people at [the provider] are able to maintain it, and we have no in-house capability to maintain it either. Part of this project is to train our staff to maintain and modify iFix to our requirements," he said.

The state-wide implementation is a joint effort between South East Water and IT services provider, Tusc Computer Systems. Tusc is involved in configuring iFix and related applications to South East Water's systems requirements, and provide user training and technical support.iFix runs on Compaq Proliant servers and the Windows NT and Windows 2000 operating systems. It utilises the DNP3 communications protocol to connect treatment plant sites to its network. DNP3 is the standard communications protocol developed for the utilities industry, and according to Pyman, the company is moving to an environment where all hardware and software has to run on DNP3, to reduce future systems development costs.

Owned by the Victorian Government, South East Water provides water to about 1.3 million customers. The company was formed in 1995 when its predecessor, Melbourne Water, was split into several separate companies.

In addition to carrying out the monitoring system upgrade, Tusc also provides 24x7 support for South East Water's Category 1A mission-critical systems. It also recently assisted the water provider relocate its disaster recovery site from Mt Martha to its new site at Keysborough.

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