Texas Automation Systems
Creating a Smart Field with Ignition and MQTT
Project For: NGL Energy Partners
- Tags: 736,000
- Screens: 600 pages on central gateway (and Advantech IPCs have 3-5 screens per implementation for local interface)
- Clients: 45
- Alarms: More than 12,000 configured
- Devices: 35 Advantech Industrial PCs with Custom Ignition License; 65 Red Lion DA Modules; all devices talk using MQTT Sparkplug B protocol
- Architecture: Hub-and-Spoke with MQTT
- Database: SQL Server
- Historical data logged: All tags
This is a large-scale, rapidly deployed wastewater disposal project. Built around a single gateway with multiple disposal facilities and pipeline tie-ins, Texas Automation Systems (TAS) leveraged Ignition and MQTT to centralize all assets for the end user. The project began in September 2019 and now has 37 disposal facilities and roughly 75 pipeline tie-ins that equate to 736,000 tags and over 12,000 configured alarms.
The biggest problem was how to create a “smart field” with little to no telemetry infrastructure that would allow TAS to enhance pipeline and disposal facilities’ efficiencies.
The second problem was how to share data across all sites and ensure data synchronization in a network that is based on cellular communications that is known to periodically go down. Building a custom architecture that assured data synchronization would be a monumental task.
The third problem was trying to complete this with the just-released Ignition 8 and MQTT modules not yet supported with 8.
TAS leveraged the performance of Ignition, MQTT, and cellular communication to solve its smart field needs. Ignition provided the one-to-one graphic interaction for the users to dive into their assets, and also enabled utilization of Cirrus Link MQTT modules to achieve the smart field that they wanted.
With MQTT’s store-and-forward capability, TAS was guaranteed automatic data synchronization as soon as communications returned to any one site.
With great support from both Inductive Automation and Cirrus Link, TAS was able to get past the bugs it ran into with or between Ignition 8 and the MQTT Module.
The project is ongoing, and TAS is very proud of its progress. None of this could have been possible without the support of the TAS team, the customer, Inductive Automation, and Cirrus Link Solutions.
TAS uses the Cirrus Link Chariot Broker in an Azure environment. All edge devices connect to this broker via cellular communication.
Aside from the “Hub,” or central Ignition gateway, there is an instance of Ignition at each disposal facility on a touch screen to allow local operations to interface with equipment and controls. TAS designed the system so that the Hub and local interfaces have a very similar look and feel to enable the user to jump between each application and not feel like they are in different projects. TAS could not use Ignition Edge due to its inability to subscribe to MQTT broker data, so they worked with Inductive Automation to create a custom license that allowed the edge devices to both publish and subscribe to MQTT data. The result is what they call a “smart field.”
Of the 75 pipeline tie-ins, there is a mix of touchscreen and non-interactive Red Lion Edge devices that publish data via the Sparkplug B protocol. Because the Red Lion Edge devices use the Sparkplug B protocol that Cirrus Link helped standardize, the Red Lion devices had no issues connecting to the MQTT infrastructure. This allowed TAS to save money for the client by making the local edge devices serve multiple purposes.
Texas Automation Systems had a team of PLC programmers at each site during each start up. Besides programming the local PLCs to control the facilities, they performed facility loop checks with the customer through the local Ignition instance and the Hub and communicated with the SCADA team for any fixes that were needed. This provided end-to-end data validation and confirmed the local control narrative.
Will has four years of automation and telemetry experience with a focus on HMI and SCADA development for customers. He attended the University of Texas at Tyler and received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Will interned for Texas Automation Systems through two winter breaks and one summer, and upon graduating he received a full-time position with TAS in 2017.Created By:
Texas Automation Systems
TAS provides best-in-class automation system design, integration, programming, and commissioning services. TAS is a team of highly experienced and dedicated automation and telemetry professionals who are committed to making advanced technology, automation, and engineering services work for clients. The goal is to apply TAS’ capabilities to client’s needs, enabling them to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.
Website: www.txautosys.comProject For:
NGL Energy Partners
NGL Energy Partners is a diversified midstream MLP that provides multiple services to producers and end-users, including transportation, storage, blending, and marketing of crude oil, NGLs, refined products/renewables, and water solutions. Vertical integration enables NGL to be a full service provider, which includes transportation of crude oil from the wellhead to refiners, wastewater from the wellhead to treatment for disposal, recycled or discharged Natural Gas Liquids from fractionators, and hubs to refineries and end users. It also provides refined products to customers.Industry:
Oil & Gas