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By Jim Montague, Executive Editor
Every business has to change with the times and the demands of their customers. Some businesses do this better than others. Generally, smaller companies adapt faster, but shops with one or just a few self-employees are the most nimble of all because their "bosses" and employees are literally the same people.
For example, Luckett Pump and Well Service Inc. in Dublin, Miss., about 80 miles south of Memphis, is a three-man company that services many of the water and wastewater facilities in hundreds of small, widely distributed towns and municipal areas spanning the entire northern half of Mississippi.
Luckett Pump was founded in 1990 by Steve and Jim Luckett. It started out maintaining and repairing all types of mostly agricultural irrigation wells in and around the Mississippi Delta region. After a couple of years, they began offering certified water and wastewater operator services for small municipalities and rural systems, then started selling and servicing chemical treatment equipment used in the water and wastewater industry, and finally began servicing and repairing wastewater pumps.
"Now that we were working on more water and wastewater systems, we saw the need to learn to service the electrical controls for various pumps, motor controls and liquid level controls," says Steve Luckett. "We even run conduit and wire overhead water storage tanks."
Looking for an alternative way to control remote well locations and improve reliability without using phone lines, Luckett Pump started using Banner Engineering's DX80 gateway and nodes. "This was a low-cost option for remote pump control. In some cases, it will pay for itself in as little as 18 months from phone company savings alone," he says.
More recently, in December 2009, the U.S. EPA's latest water rule took effect, requiring all water systems with more than 3300 residential customers to continually monitor chlorine. To constantly monitor chlorine residuals, these systems installed residual chlorine analyzers with 4-20 mA data outputs to record the chlorine residual readings. In the past, data collection was done on chart recorders and equipment, which wouldn't allow users to stay in compliance with the groundwater rule that requires notification of non-compliance situations.
"As a result, we hired Boyd Mitchell as applications engineer, and he worked with Joe Waszgis at Automatic Dynamic Corp. (ADC), which represents Banner and Red Lion Controls," says Luckett. "After explaining our application of data collection for the groundwater rule requirements, Joe recommended Red Lion's HMI equipment using Crimson 2.0 and 3.0 software for data logging and notifications.
By employing Banner and Red Lion's equipment, users can receive real-time sample data from their wells' chlorine analyzers via Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, Ethernet-based connections and Banner's radios, and then organize it using Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet format. "If we didn't have Red Lion's HMI equipment, we would have to use chart recorders with SDS cards and work like crazy to keep up with all the data coming in," adds Luckett. "It was a steep learning curve to implement the radios and program the HMI equipment, but we had a lot of good support from our suppliers and Joe. As we've gotten a better understanding of the operation and applications of this equipment, its programming is getting much easier and has solved a lot of headaches."
So far, a handful of North Mississippi's municipal water systems have converted to Luckett's radio-based, data-acquisition method, and he's sure more systems will adopt it. "We can remotely update clients' programming, adjust chlorine levels and turn pumps on or off from our office, saving our clients money and time," adds Luckett. "Some small towns can't afford to send a person to manually check their water systems several times per day. So,it will be necessary for them to adopt this kind of data acquisition and analysis system." Agile, indeed.