An existing data acquisition system (DAS) installed to monitor the structural integrity of a 50+ year old, 1700-foot-long hydroelectric penstock had become antiquated over time. The obsolete DAS was challenging and costly to maintain, and had started showing signs of unreliability. Due to its deficiencies and limitations for expansion, the original DAS no longer met the ongoing monitoring goals of asset managers.
SAGE designed, programmed, and installed an upgraded DAS to replace the original. We worked closely with our client’s asset managers, engineers, facility maintenance and operation personnel, and SCADA and IT groups during the design phase to deliver an improved system, tailored to meet their specific monitoring, security, power supply, and data management requirements. The new DAS leverages a network of eight Campbell Scientific, Inc. (Campbell) dataloggers to measure roughly 80 (30 existing and 50 new) sensors, which includes piezometers, weir monitors, extensometers, load cells, and tiltmeters. Our Rope Access team installed the new equipment and sensors along the penstock and at expansion joints where it was otherwise unsafe and uneconomical to access using conventional methods. The penstock data is sent to a remote server where it is stored to a database that engineers can query and evaluate trends using straightforward, built-in plotting tools. The server also sends emailed reports every day with plots of 2-week and 2-year trends.
Additional improvements over the old DAS include:
- An industrial-grade, uninterrupted power supply (UPS), designed by SAGE’s electrical engineers, provides the DAS with a reliable source of power and sustains regular data collection during planned and unplanned outages.
- The new DAS uses radio communications, which replaced long data cables along the steep penstock slope that were vulnerable to rockfall damage.
- Additional multiplexers increases expandability of the DAS, so new and future sensors can be added as necessary.
- Custom programming logic together with Campbell’s VSPECT® vibrating-wire measurement technology reduces noise spikes and possible false alarms due to local environmental electrical noise associated with hydroelectric generation at the facility.
- The new DAS is integrated with SCADA, making sensor measurements and critical alarm states visible to operators.
- The DAS sends email and text messages to stakeholders when a sensor alarm state is triggered or system maintenance is required, giving them early notification of changing conditions.