RPP’s Landfill Gas to Pipeline – SCADA & Situational Awareness HMI Design
Designing a situationally aware human machine interface for a landfill gas to pipeline (high Btu) project.
Renewable Power Producers
Enerdyne Power Systems develops and operates landfill gas systems across the United States, and is considered a leader in the landfill gas to energy industry. In 2017, the company started a landfill gas project at Hamm Sanitary Landfill in Lawrence, Kansas under the name Renewable Power Producers (RPP). This landfill gas to pipeline natural gas processing facility processes up to 3.7 MMscf/day, and sells high Btu gas under a long-term gas purchase agreement.
We wanted a low-cost HMI that was easily understandable to increase optimum operator response time to abnormal situations. Affinity Energy helped us get there.
–Steve Allman, Director of Operations, Advanced Biogas Systems/Enerdyne Power Systems
During the development of the plant, RPP planned to deploy a highly sophisticated controls and monitoring solution. They wanted an HMI with multiple screens that showed the entire landfill gas process. Specifically, a HMI that employed the philosophies of situational awareness design and ISA-101, a high-performance HMI standard defined by the International Society of Automation.
Because RPP needed SCADA work to commence while design was still fluid, it meant working with a systems integrator that was flexible and could accommodate a rapid deployment in which the SCADA design was only marginally ahead of the build. The project had a compressed schedule with SCADA scope from start to finish, initially planned for 3 months.
RPP chose Affinity Energy in March 2017 for this project because of Affinity Energy’s experience in landfill gas SCADA systems.
Companies looking at situational awareness typically choose Wonderware SCADA software, due to its extensive collection of pre-defined objects and templates. After a conversation with RPP about their needs, Affinity Energy instead proposed a customized version of Trihedral’s VTScada as a cost-effective alternative with strong datalogging, trending, and easy-to-configure redundancy.
Affinity Energy integrated hundreds of instruments and process points into the SCADA system, often having to work with PLCs supplied and programmed by different OEMs. Engineers designed a HMI that included 12 complex stages of the landfill gas process condensed in just four screens.
Utilizing VTScada as a situationally aware HMI for landfill gas posed some unique challenges. VTScada templates don’t have built-in objects and symbols that match situational awareness standards or RPP’s P&ID. Affinity Energy had to draw and build most symbols from scratch.
Setting up reports in the VTScada reporting engine posed another challenge. It wasn’t until well into the design process that Affinity Energy received the reporting template. Unfortunately, VTScada didn’t match the desired formatting and templating, so Affinity Energy custom built reports in VBScript and automated the template.
Throughout the SCADA development, HMI design was an extremely collaborative process between the owner, system integrator, and engineers.
Though it was challenging to customize this project in VTScada, Affinity Energy completed the project as a successful application of high performance HMI principles.
RPP now has access to a detailed overview of KPIs, normal operating ranges, goals, and alarming that they use daily to monitor plant performance and guide operation decisions throughout the plant.