Whale of an application: 25 mi. of control wiring

What you do get when you mix 6.2 million gallons of water, 1.8-million-lb of "Instant Ocean," 3,106 I/O points, 62 control panels, and motors, drives, and pumps to deliver 100,000 gallons of filtration/min.?


Control Componets

Opto 22 supplied intelligent I/O modules for Georgia Aquarium; RCK Controls Inc., automation system integrator for the project, supplied this image with labels.

What you do get when you mix 6.2 million gallons of water, 1.8-million-lb of "Instant Ocean," 3,106 I/O points, 62 control panels, and motors, drives, and pumps to deliver 100,000 gallons of filtration/min.? Answer is an inland home for whale sharks, dozens of cow nose rays, and scores of other inhabitants of the Ocean Voyager exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium . It's been a packed-to-the-gills Atlanta attraction since opening on Nov. 23, 2005. Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world in size (550,000 sq ft) and water volume, just over 8 million total gallons. It has more than 100,000 fish from 500 species.

RCK Controls Inc. did the automation system integration for the aquarium, serving, in part, a triple system of sand, protein skimming, and ozone filtration. Largest pipe in the system is 56-in.; two 250,000-gal. tanks store pre-mixed water, ready for use as needed. Opto 22 supplied the I/O connections, 2,523 digital and 583 analog, with 10 PC-based controllers. The system has two human-machine interfaces, two laptops with wireless connections, a ruggedized handheld unit with Web-based interface, a dedicated T1 line with remote VPN, email, and Wireless Communication Transfer Protocol (WCTP)-based alarm data, a firewall and router, six fiber-optic media converters, and nine wireless routers. Other automation includes Ashcroft gauges, GF Signet Flowmonitors, Neptune mixers, Siemens switch boxes, U.S. Filters, many valves, and Westinghouse motors, connected with some 25 miles of control wiring and about 40 miles of total piping.

I/O modules
System Integration

These Georgia Aquarium residents seem to appreciate consistent filtration provided by controls at the "world's largest" aquarium. Photos by Mark T. Hoske.

Control Engineering received a tour of aquarium automation during a recent "Machine Vision Show" held there for customers and partners of Cognex/DVT , Advanced Control Solutions , RCK Controls , Opto 22 , and others. The event included technologies beyond those applied at the aquarium, such as machine vision, x-ray systems, lenses, lighting, and 2-D readers, among other technologies.

—Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief, Control Engineering,

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