Research Studies Identify SCADA, AM/FM/GIS and AMR Projects for Water/Wastewater Utilities
by Alison Fowler, Market Manager UA Research
Water and wastewater utilities in the United States and Canada are planning 482 SCADA and/or process-control-system projects over the next two years. The projects are valued at over $325 million; 88 projects have budgets of $1 million or greater. These projects, and others, are described in a series of detailed reports published by Utility Automation (UA) Research.
In addition to the two control system reports–water and wastewater–UA Research has also completed the water/wastewater utility AM/FM/GIS report as well as the first water utility AMR report. UA Research plans to produce the report annually.
The focus group for these studies includes 1,206 water and wastewater utilities. The nation`s largest utilities and a sampling of smaller utilities were contacted. UA Research analysts interviewed plant managers and other decision makers to uncover specific plans for new SCADA or process control, add-on RTUs and PLCs, AM/FM/GIS systems, map conversion and AMR systems. These specific plans include type of system, operating platform, number of system components (RTUs, PLCs, CRTs), as well as planned communication, consultant, mapboard and preferred system vendors.
Water utilities are budgeting more than $170.5 million for 289 system projects and more than $15.7 million for 91 RTU/PLC add-on projects over the next two years. Figure 1 illustrates the value of planned water-system projects by cost category. The seven most costly projects, or 2 percent of the planned projects, represent $56 million or 32 percent of the budgeted system dollars. This graph illustrates an interesting finding. The majority of project dollars are being budgeted for projects that are between $500,000 to $1.99 million. These two categories, $500,000 to $999,999 and $1 million to $1.99 million, together make up 37 percent of the total value of the planned system projects.
Results of this study also indicate that water utilities that have 100,000 to 299,999 meters plan to spend the most for SCADA and process control system projects, as shown in Figure 2. Utilities in this size category alone plan to spend nearly 50-percent more than larger water utilities in the more than 300,000 meter segment. Interestingly, utilities in the 10,000 to 19,999 meter range make up the second largest group in terms of planned water-system project value.
Wastewater utilities plan to spend more than $155.7 million on 193 system projects and more than $8.9 million on 54 RTU/PLC add-on projects over the next two years–as documented in UA Research`s 1996 Wastewater Utility Control System Market Data Report. Wastewater utilities with 20,000 to 49,999 connections plan to install more control systems, 26 percent of the total, than any other size category.
Both the water and wastewater control-system reports identify existing and planned operating platforms among other specific information. For 1996, PC-based systems comprise 75 percent of the total planned system projects, which is a slight increase from the 1995 report. Minicomputers will be used in 14 percent of the planned water and wastewater utility projects, followed by workstations with 8 percent and mainframes with 3 percent of the projects. Over the years, UA Research has followed the slow decline of the mainframe-based computers and has monitored the narrowing area between PC-based and UNIX-based workstation platform systems. The trend is clearly a move toward low-end systems, which may hold 90 percent or more of the installed base within two or three years.
In addition to the technology of computerized control systems, water and wastewater utilities benefit from ever-changing AM/FM/GIS systems. UA Research analysts identified 160 AM/FM/GIS system projects valued at more than $40.4 million as listed in UA Research`s 1996 Water and Wastewater Automated Mapping/Facilities Management/Geographic Information System Market Data Report. This study also uncovered add-on, conversion and consultant projects. The value of the planned system projects by cost category is illustrated in Figure 3. This graph shows that 2 percent of projects fall within the $3 million or more category, which is 30 percent of the total value and cost. Sixty-eight percent of system projects costing less than $125,000 make up only 14 percent of the overall value and cost of systems.
Figure 4 represents the results of the questionnaire on technical features. Utility managers noted that “Ease of Operation” was considered to be the most important feature of an AM/FM/GIS system. This feature, or the ability to have a system that is easy to understand, received an average ranking of 9.1 among the 41 respondents. Ranking second behind “Ease of Operation” was “Full Graphic CRT`s” and “Open Architecture,” which were tied with a rating of 8.5. “UNIX Operating System” was rated by the managers as the least important technical feature, with a 6.1 rating for the 1996 survey.
A total of 194 meter-reading-system projects valued at $55.8 million are listed in UA Research`s 1996 Water Utility Automatic Meter Reading Market Data Report.
A breakdown of planned system projects by water utility size is illustrated in Figure 5. UA Research analysts found that utilities with 10,000 to 19,999 meters are planning more meter-reading system projects than any other size category. Following the leader is the 20,000 to 49,999 meter category with 22 percent of the total number of meter-reading-system projects.