Westermo upgrades Illinois water pumping station controls

June 28, 2021

Ethernet line extenders enable existing telecom cables to be used for new resilient data communications network supporting updated PLCs.

Westermo has enabled a cost-effective upgrade of the data communications network supporting new PLCs at water pumping stations in Bedford Park, Ill. The company's Wolverine line extenders let existing cabling be reused for a new, resilient Ethernet network that cuts installation time and costs.

The aging PLCs that controlled equipment at three pumping stations were becoming obsolete, with maintenance requirements increasing and sourcing spare parts challenging. It was decided that the PLCs would be replaced, along with the supporting data network, which was based on a proprietary protocol, and didn't offer necessary reliability or functionality.

Concentric Integration, which specializes in utility technology for governments and municipalities, was tasked with upgrading the system to increase its reliability and ensure it could be supported in the future. A new Ethernet network was required, but the cost of replacing existing cabling with fiber was not only very expensive, but also extremely time-consuming.

Concentric turned to Westermo for support, and they report that its Wolverine Ethernet line extenders provided an ideal solution. The extenders use SHDSL technology on twisted-pair cables to establish high-speed remote connections between two Ethernet networks. Instead of installing fiber or radio links, SHDSL provides a cost-effective solution using the existing cables. In total, nine Wolverine DDW-142-485 line extenders are being used to create networks supporting PLC-to-PLC communications for the three pumping stations. A single line extender is installed at the main pump stations and another at each underground metering and inlet vault.

Wolverine line extenders allow data to be transmitted over a distance of about 0.3 miles from a remote site to each pumping station using existing two-wire telecom cable. The extenders are designed to provide extremely reliable and resilient data transmission despite the noisy environment and several surge protectors at the pumping stations. The ability to adjust the data rates helped to create a very stable connection. Built-in tools in the Westermo WeOS operating system show the signal-to-noise ratio and other statistics of the SHDSL line, and assisted with troubleshooting and configuring the units.

“The Wolverines can form a network over any type of copper cables, which made it possible to create a very cost-effective solution using the pre-existing telecom cable,” says Benjamin Campbell, technical engineer at Westermo. “WeOS, which was developed to simplify configuration and management of the devices, made the upgrade easy and problem-free.”

Michael Klein, president of Concentric Integration, adds, “Not only were we able to carry out the project efficiently and successfully, but the Wolverine Ethernet extenders enabled project cost and time savings because we didn't need to install new cabling. We were also very happy with the support provided to us by Westermo during the project.