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FreeWave Technologies and Rockwell Automation Join Forces to Address Growing Water Management Issues


2 May 2011 - FreeWave Technologies, a manufacturer of reliable, high-performance spread spectrum and licensed radios for critical data transmission, today announced a new initiative, in collaboration with Rockwell Automation, to design and implement a comprehensive SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system solution to tackle water municipality's growing issues in water management.

The problem: Water municipalities have water tanks that need to be kept full during peak usage times to keep up with increasing demands. Typically, a water tank is connected to a reservoir miles away via a pipeline, however, tank monitoring and pumping operations are being completed manually in many areas, creating numerous inefficiencies and cost constraints. To complicate matters, the main control rooms, the water reservoir and the water district headquarters are usually geographically dispersed.  In order to keep up with demands, water districts across the United States need ways to automate their water demand management and keep their investment low to make such a change feasible to end-users.

"In order to make this application work, the SCADA system needs to be able to monitor the water level in the tank, the line pressure throughout the pipeline and the flow rate when the pump is running, as well as control the drive that runs the pump," explains Ashish Sharma, chief marketing officer of FreeWave Technologies. "It also needs to have a Human Machine Interface (HMI) at the water district headquarters to provide monitoring and control of the entire system for the operators. Clearly, wireless communication is a must, but the system also needs to be very reliable, flexible and cost effective. Our customers are looking for a solution that is easy to deploy and maintain."

Because cost effectiveness and reliability are high priorities for public utility operators, both FreeWave and Rockwell Automation products are a natural fit for the water districts. The SCADA system consists of an Allen Bradley SLC5/05 PLC at the main control room, its PowerFlex 40 drive at the pump house with FreeWave's serial and serial IO radios connecting them together. The serial IO radios also allow the master Allen Bradley PLC to monitor pressure and flow rates throughout the pipeline as well as the water level in the tank. Along with the serial network, there also would be a pair of FreeWave Ethernet radios used to connect the SLC5/05 back to a Rockwell Automation PanelView Plus at the water district headquarters. Because multiple FreeWave radio networks can coexist at the same location, its FGR2-PE Ethernet radios are a trouble-free option. Typically, they would be used to link the Ethernet ports of the Allen Bradley SLC5/05 PLC and the Rockwell Automation PanelView Plus to provide seamless integration. "This allows for easy monitoring and control with real time updates of the entire system," Sharma says.

"With both Rockwell Automation and FreeWave products, it's easy to build a cost effective, yet very reliable SCADA system," he explained. "Because the FGR2-IO-IOE is a flexible wireless IO platform and a very reliable serial radio, it offers the ability to quickly and cost effectively add IO without having to add additional radios. This adds a level of flexibility that complements Rockwell Automation products perfectly."

About the FGR2 Series of FreeWave Radios:
Each member of the FGR2 Series of radios is fully backwards-compatible with earlier FGR radios and offers the lowest power consumption in the industry. The FGR2-CE-U is the serial radio option and the FGR2-IO-IOE Serial radio base provides a wireless platform for IO Expansion to any new or existing FGR serial network .The FGR2-PE offers users a second, switched Ethernet port as well as two serial ports to meet the demands of customers' wireless automation requirements. The future-proof combination of two serial ports and two switched Ethernet ports offers customers the ability to transition from serial to Ethernet data communication without having to replace their wireless communication hardware down the road, or operate both serial and Ethernet communication independently and simultaneously on the same platform. Additionally, each FreeWave FGR2 series radio is capable of transmitting data up to 60 miles line-of-sight (LOS).

About FreeWave Technologies
Founded in 1993, FreeWave Technologies manufactures reliable, high performing, lowest power consumption, spread spectrum and licensed radios for mission-critical data transmission.

FreeWave Technologies participates as an Encompass™ Product Partner in the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork™.  Through Encompass Product Partners, customers can quickly locate complementary products that best solve any application challenges. These products are critical components or connectivity solutions that extend and enhance Rockwell Automation installations.

About Rockwell Automation

Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE: ROK), the world's largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, makes its customers more productive and the world more sustainable. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., Rockwell Automation employs about 19,000 people serving customers in more than 80 countries.

Source: FreeWave Technologies