A-C Technology Solutions Engineers Results for Customer
Who did a natural gas storage facility call when they had a breakdown in their wireless communications system? A-C Technology Solutions, naturally.
A natural gas storage facility was in need of improving the reliability of their wireless communications system
Upgrading their current software and hardware, as well as designing a better line of sight between antennas
Industry: Natural Gas Storage Facility
Service: Radio Telemetry
- Wonderware Intouch Human Machine Interface (HMI) software development
- Upgrades to antennae cables and hardware
- GE MDS Radios
- Topographical software
The client owns and operates an underground intra-state natural gas storage facility located near Fresno, CA. Designed to hold 20 billion cubic feet of natural gas, it includes a central plant, four well pads and two remote locations. The remote location farthest from the central plant (about 20 miles away) is connected to a pipeline that links the facility to a local company’s mainline transmission system, allowing it to serve customers throughout the entire state. The other remote location (about 10 miles away) is where their radio telemetry is housed and serves as their interconnect site. With underground wells that are 6,000 feet deep, natural gas is stored, then extracted and sent to the utility’s pipeline when demand calls for it. Once the utility has enough, the remaining gas is sent back to the storage formation.
The radio telemetry system that was implemented proved to be extremely unreliable, with intermittent interruptions occurring sometimes as often as every 20 minutes. Each time the system failed, someone would have to travel out to the remote site to physically radio into the main plant, which was a huge waste of time and money for everyone involved. This went on for about four years.
A-C Technology Solutions (A-C) had worked alongside the client in the past on several other projects. So, when some A-C technicians bumped into the client at a Wonderware training session and shared their communications problems with them, they immediately hired A-C once again to come up with a solution.
A-C Technology Solutions conducted a full investigation of the site, which included a thorough radio propagation study; a spectrum analysis to see what kind of interference they were dealing with via both desktop and on-site typographical software; and a path survey in which the A-C team set up temporary radios to analyze their current antennae height and locations. They also conducted a 3D design analysis in order to determine the most effective, direct line of sight between all antennae, which was tricky considering there was a 20-mile span of land to cover.
Once the results were calculated, the team discovered that the client’s antennae towers weren’t tall enough and improperly placed. Instead of replacing the towers altogether, however, A-C came up with the much more economical solution of installing GE MDS radios, which supplied them with the power they needed. They also repositioned the existing antennae, adjusted their height and upgraded their cables.
As far as the client’s software, their main SCADA was powered by Wonderware, but it wasn’t working properly. A-C Technology Solutions corrected this, along with upgrading all their hardware and improving their other software applications.
A-C was responsible for all aspects of the client’s radio telemetry system, and it proved to be an extremely successful redesign. In fact, the wireless communications are now 99.9% reliable compared to about 50-60% reliable before A-C Technology Solutions took over. Plus, they now have the capability to add critical safety protocols such as emergency shut-downs.
“A-C Technology Solutions provided us with a much more reliable communication link between our two sites, which is not only critical when you’re talking about delivering natural gas, but it also saves us a ton of time, money and – most importantly – risk.”