Rochester Water Bureau PLC Upgrade

Industry: Government, Water & Waste Water


The Rochester Water Bureau's (RWB) existing PLC was obsolete. RWB had hard-wired operator stations throughout the facility, and wanted to convert everything to touchscreen technology. With touchscreen technology, changes for operators could be done in software, rather than having them re-wired in a machine. RWB had a general idea of what they were looking for, but asked Optimation to make PLC recommendations within the Allen-Bradley platform. The client needed the project completed before the end of 2015. Optimation was one of three bidders for the project, and came in during bidding significantly less than the competition.  The client also appreciated Optimation's thorough investigation of the Scope of Work and interest in fully understanding RWB's situation and business reasons for the upgrade.


Because the requirements for the operator screens weren't very complicated, Optimation suggested operator interfaces from a controls products company called Red Lion. Red Lion's simple operator screens were cost effective, and included free programming software. This recommendation ended up saving the client almost $20K, and was also was one of the reasons Optimation won the project. Optimation chose Allen-Bradley CompactLogix PLCs, the latest platform, as it fit well with the application and met RWB's requirements. 11 systems needed to be upgraded. Optimation originally planned on upgrading one system per week, for a total of 11 weeks. Eight of those systems were filtration systems. Optimation saw an opportunity to save time by starting with a filtration system upgrade and replicating the process with the seven other filtration systems. Another strategic decision was to have a one week delay between the first install and a second install. This would give the client a complete week of runtime on one system, and give both the client and Optimation a heads up on any changes that would need to be made. The scheduled was modified a few more times to accommodate for summer holidays; installations were not done during short weeks. To make the transition much easier for operators, Optimation attempted to make the touchscreens similar to the original hard-wired operator panels. Optimation also provided some training during the first week after installation to acclimate operators. During Factory Acceptance Testing, a few RWB operators observed the process and gave input. Optimation made a few changes based on this input during FAT. Optimation provided services to eliminate RWB's data highway system and replace it with all Ethernet communications.


The project was completed well before the RWB's deadline, and the systems are running well. Since Optimation's solution came in so far under the client's budget, the client was able to apply the leftover funds for future improvement projects. The client and Optimation have signed a services agreement for continued support at the facility.
Project Images Click to View Gallery

  • Government
  • Water & Waste Water

  • Controls Engineering
  • Software Engineering

  • PLC and DCS Systems

Click Arrows to View All Categories Applicable to This Project