PC-Based Water & Wastewater Telemetry Solves Early-Obsolescence Challenge


Jim Mimlitz, NRI

Since 1995, Navionics Research Inc. has based its Telemetry & Control RTU system upon an industrial-hardened PC architecture, which is arguably the most stable hardware standard in electronics history.  With many competing source manufacturers, availability is anticipated for many years.  The design philosophy is based upon the idea that while others’ proprietary hardware implementations generally have short life cycles, our industrial PC-based software can be re-compiled and duplicated virtually without limits on successive generations of PC-based hardware.

In short, our system is software-based, rather than hardware-based — which leads to a long supported life.  A recent example of this longevity is the first Telemetry and Control System that we commissioned — in the Winter of 1996.  Serving rural water customers outside Centralia (IL), the system has reliably monitored and controlled the Water Tower and Pumping Stations for over two decades!

RTU Control Panel Refurbishment Extends System Life

When a system provides such longevity, it is important to take full advantage by occasionally overhauling the control panels on an as-needed basis.  For example, in an effort to keep the equipment up-to-date and running smoothly for many years to come, the aforementioned Water District recently commissioned a refurbishment of the control panel at its main Water Tower.  After 20+ years of faithful operation, weather and maintenance over that time had taken its toll on the equipment.

To conserve costs, most functional equipment was re-used, including:

  • CPU Motherboard
  • Analog/Digital I/O Card
  • Narrowband Radio/Modem
  • Antenna
  • Coaxial Cable
  • Polyphaser Coaxial Surge Arrestor
  • UPS Battery Backup
  • I/O Module Rack
  • I/O Modules
  • Pressure Transducer

The equipment was re-organized and installed within a new, larger enclosure.  Emphasis was placed on din-rail-mounting of equipment wherever possible for ease-of-maintenance.  New equipment included:

  • Larger & Deeper 30 x 24 x 10 NEMA 4 Enclosure
  • 4 x 16 Character User-Interface LED Display
  • +5VDC/60W Power Supply
  • +12VDC/60W Power Supply
  • +24VDC/20W Power Supply
  • Strikesorb TVSS
  • Convection-Type Panel Heater
  • Card Cage for Circuit Boards
  • Replacement Ribbon Cables
  • Din-Rail-Mount Circuit Breaker (Replacement of Fuse-Based System)

At the time of the rebuild, the existing CPU Motherboard was re-flashed with the latest 2016-version firmware, which effectively advanced its technology forward to the present level.

Also, at the time of the rebuild, the Water District built a new weatherproof hut around the Control Panel to help protect against the elements.


Re-Built Telemetry & Control Panel at Walnut Hill Water District (IL)

Re-Built Telemetry & Control Panel.


New Telemetry-Housing Hut (Rubbermaid) in the Background. Old Hut (Wood) in the Foreground.

New Telemetry-Housing Hut (Rubbermaid), Right. Old Hut (Wood), Middle.  Water Tower, Left.


Old Control Panel, After Components Were Removed.

Old Control Panel, After Re-Usable Components Were Removed.


Are you interested in acquiring a Telemetry & Control System whose architecture is designed to provide decades of service life without early-obsolescence problems?

Are are you a current NRI customer who is interested in performing an economical rebuild of an existing RTU Telemetry & Control site that is showing wear & tear from years of weather and maintenance?

Give us a call, and we’ll get started.

And as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by phone or email.

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