3-mile WiFi connection enables mobile HMI access

Wireless local area network easily cover 3.1-mile span for a California water system, saving more than $15,000 compared to a wired solution, says Phoenix Contact.


A water system in San Diego County needed wireless field access to human-machine interface (HMI) data in rugged terrain. In this industrial wireless application:

  • The water system of an arid California community dealt with high water demand.
  • Water distribution system operators spend most of their time in the field, but need to access HMI at the control room 3 miles away.
  • A cabling solution was impossible due to the challenging terrain.
  • After installing Phoenix Contact high-power WLAN radios, the operators now have a flawless 3.1-mile connection and can easily access HMI data in the field.

Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., a suburb in northern San Diego County, is considered to be one of the most beautiful U.S. communities, yet one of the most arid.

Bird's-eye view from the plant toward the Santa Fe Irrigation District operations yard shows trees and terrain that would have made a 3.1-mile cable run prohibitively expensive. It’s an application made for rugged wireless communications and has worked wi

Extreme drought conditions often increase local fire risks. Additionally, the local orchards need water to keep the orange and citrus groves growing. This combination places a high demand on the water system.

Tower in Santa Fe Irrigation District operations yard receives communications from the plant (other photo) via Phoenix Contact’s high-power wireless local area network (WLAN) radio (RAD-80211-XD/HP), creating a wireless Ethernet connection across the 3-mi

District maintenance personnel spend most of their time in the field, resulting in the need to extend the control screen HMI from the control station LAN at R.E. Badger filtration plant. With the installation of the fully automated system, operations wanted a way to monitor this new information from the field station, where most work priorities are scheduled.

The application requires taking information from the mountain-top plant into town. The mountainous area, along with trees and the challenge of right-of-way, left cabling directly with copper or fiber out of the question. This is due to high cabling costs and the difficulty of installation along this 3-mile path.

HMI screen visible, savings

Phoenix Contact’s high-power wireless local area network (WLAN) radio (RAD-80211-XD/HP) created a wireless Ethernet connection across the 3-mile mountainous terrain, resulting in effective throughput of 18 Mbps. This allowed for the extension of the HMI screen on the plant-wide LAN to reach the water operations yard.

Santa Fe Irrigation District plant communicates with operations yard (other photo) via Phoenix Contact’s high-power wireless local area network (WLAN) radio (RAD-80211-XD/HP), creating a wireless Ethernet connection in terrain that would have been too exp

The water district saw an immediate return on investment compared to copper or fiber, totaling well over $15,000 for this installation. The district operations supervisor reported that the wireless link performance was “flawless.” The installation has moved this water district one step closer to becoming a fully automated system.

Santa Fe Irrigation District provides water service to the City of Solana Beach and the communities of Rancho Santa Fe and Fairbanks Ranch.

- David Burrell is wireless product specialist, Phoenix Contact. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media.




More industrial wireless information is available at http://controleng.com/wireless.

Also see controleng.com/networks 

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