Power and Water Corporation
Remote water monitoring and control
Power and Water Corporation (PWC) provides electricity, water supply and sewerage services to over 94,000 users across Australia’s Northern Territory - an area of more than 1.3 million square kilometres including many varying environments from the tropics to the deserts. It is one of the largest businesses in the Northern Territory, employing nearly 900 residents.
PWC’s Remote Operations team is responsible for 72 remote indigenous communities and 66 outstations across the state, ranging in size from a few families to over 2,000 people. They install and maintain essential infrastructure including potable water treatment from groundwater bores, storage and reticulation, and sewage treatment plants. Managing these systems requires data gathering for effective system diagnosis, infrastructure and maintenance planning.
The remoteness of these sites means extreme communications costs, while onsite field visits require costly travel by 4WD or light aircraft from headquarters in Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek or Alice Springs. While supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is used extensively in urban areas, the high cost of installing these systems and bringing the information back for analysis from remote areas meant that PWC needed another way to get the information it needed quickly and cost-effectively.
By condensing traditional SCADA components into a single device using cellular or satellite data networks, Pervasive Telemetry was able to provide a remote telemetry solution otherwise out of reach. It specialises in small/medium remote monitoring, control and telemetry solutions in the form of the AgentG2+: a remote monitoring and control Managed Service which provides continuous, real-time monitoring and control of remote assets and infrastructure on a web browser or web-capable mobile phone. It provides immediate notification of out-of-range situations, security breaches and equipment failures.
The Agent is built using technologies more accessible and flexible than the proprietary technologies used by traditional SCADA providers. The Agent field hardware comes pre-integrated for communication securely across cellular and satellite communications networks with Pervasive Telemetry’s centralised cloud platform. Configuration and alert programming can be done remotely via simple web forms, and reports and alerts are sent automatically to field staff and management via email or SMS.
The first trial installation occurred just before Easter when reduced staffing numbers would put a strain on resourcing. By being able to securely log on and view this data remotely, management quickly found a system fault that greatly reduced water security and wasted significant diesel-generated electricity. A field engineer was sent on site with a replacement part and the community’s water security time was greatly increased while saving fuel and emissions.
Since that first implementation, PWC has increased the number of Agents in the field. A typical site installation involves a single electrician who usually completes the task in 30 minutes to an hour, often as part of a routine maintenance visit. This contrasts with a traditional SCADA installation that involves a charter flight, three or four different specialist technicians and a full day or more.
Implementing the Pervasive Telemetry solution has not only allowed PWC to centralise and streamline its data collection and reporting, but also allowed it full transparency on the sites it manages. After wiring existing pumps and level sensors into the AgentG2+, PWC staff can view all connected assets for a site at a glance on a mimic panel. All permissioned staff have live and historical telemetry visibility in the field or back at base, using a range of devices from computers to tablets and mobile phones with no need for per-seat licences or proprietary software/hardware.
PWC is now able to move beyond its core responsibility of infrastructure services to remote Indigenous communities, and promote ongoing sustainability and water conservation education in the Northern Territory.