Fully integrated systems are critical for utilities when upgrading equipment and instrumentation.
by Alan Hinchman, GE Intelligent Platforms

Real-World Results

Downtime was virtually eliminated because of robust, dual-redundancy capabilities, which are imperative for the San Francisco PUC because it has to ensure that water and essential services are delivered 100 percent of the time. The controllers have dedicated, redundant links to one another and operate synchronously with little overhead added to the control application—transferring all the application’s variables, status and I/O data on every scan with speed and transparency. It synchronizes the system at the beginning and end of each logic scan execution to keep all variable data the same—providing rapid and bumpless switchover.

The San Francisco PUC is also saves time and money by protecting investments with flexible, scalable, open architectures that also support legacy applications—now and in the future—and reduces engineering costs with easy configuration and quick startup and maintenance. Complementing the time and money savings is an increase in productivity that results from fast, powerful synchronization and the ability to maintain individual system components without interruption.

Another benefit of implementing the high-availability solution is that the water treatment plants decreased the cost of spare parts. When the U.S. is losing about 7 billion gallons of treated water per year because of the country’s aging water infrastructure, flexibility could make a substantial difference. Additionally, the smaller form factor of the solution allows for more water capacity.

Efficiency gains are also realized through high-speed memory sharing, which enables multiple devices to transfer large amounts of data over a fiber optic deterministic network at speeds up to 20 times faster than Ethernet. The use of fiber optic connections allows the PUC to easily operate in high-noise areas and cover large distances in real time. Adding to the efficiency gains is that the PUC’s knowledge base was sustained, reducing training overhead.


For a utility to be viable in today’s world, the business must use automation platforms to leverage their capabilities. The outcome is lower operating costs, quicker response to changing needs and easier training. By replicating systems faster across the utility, implementation costs are lowered, risk is decreased and completion time is accelerated. Additionally, operators can create solutions without putting added demands on IT.

Creating consistency, efficiency and accountability and enabling collaborative information with a holistic approach are keys to success. At that point, utilities can optimize every aspect of water operations for high performance in today’s connected world.