We were faced with the task to create an advanced and modular SCADA system for automatic and smart control and monitoring of garden irrigation in Dammam Area, Saudi Arabia to have green gardens in desert. The key attribute of a SCADA system is its ability to perform a supervisory operation over a variety of other proprietary devices.
Combining the benefits of the real-time processor with LabVIEW graphical programming language to create rugged and modular remote terminal units for agricultural weather station, scheduled control, and monitoring of irrigation system.
The existing irrigation systems at customer side were high-end industrial solutions from different vendors. However, those were not able to irrigate the gardens in a proper way, so as a result within the harsh desert conditions the gardens were either over irrigated or under irrigated in both cases causing the gardens to dry or swamp. This behavior was damaging the green plants on the garden, and even damaging the pumps.
The customer needed to have a reliable and modular system for automated and remote irrigation system. The system required to be solely based on industry grade hardware and software in order to operate normally in various weather conditions and reduce the shutdown rates. The system should also include unlimited number of agricultural weather stations, which should calculate evapotranspiration ratio to adjust the irrigation schedule.
Having a green and nice looking yards and gardens in all countries requires a huge amount of water for irrigation. Water is a very important resource throughout the world, where many countries suffer from lack of water. This fact makes the technology companies to design new control algorithms for optimum control over irrigation.
At the other side, making the irrigation correctly is not just saving water, but also helps the plants to grow normally and saves money spent on plant seeds and maintenance.
The system consists of a SCADA center and RTUs. The SCADA center consists of a Communication Server and an Operator Workstation. We have designed two types of RTUs.
The areas being irrigated were in a desert with harsh weather conditions. Temperature could rise to 60°C and dry the sand and the plants. The strong winds and sandstorms could create a non-standard environment for regular systems to operate. Our system is industry grade and is able to operate in various hazardous and harsh environment.
At the other hand, the main challenge was to provide a smart system, which could implement the irrigation control intelligently, taking into account the weather abnormalities, and adjust the irrigation process accordingly. This would prevent the over irrigation and under irrigation
of the gardens, which could potentially damage the plants (grass, trees, flowers, etc.).
For this purpose we have incorporated a weather station based on NI technologies and could
calculate the evapotranspiration ratio ET0 based on different weather parameters like wind speed, solar irradiation, air temperature, rain fall, etc. Based on this we could implement the irrigation in a smarter way by adjusting the irrigation process accordingly, and provide green gardens in Dammam Area, where most of the gardens were dimed to desertification.
Benefits of the application
This advanced irrigation system, allowed to optimally use the water resources and save energy consumption. Our customer could achieve 20% water savings, 20% energy savings and 30% maintenance and operation cost reduction. Moreover, he succeeded to have green public gardens.
For Dammam Area, which has about 4 million population, our system had a big social impact, allowing the citizens to enjoy their daily life spending time in the gardens and yards.
Comparing to other similar systems in the market, our system is one of a kind. Our system is fully scalable, easily expandable, includes non-standard features including weather station, ET0 calculation, irrigation adjustment and pump protection.
The meaning of SCADA irrigation system is not just to do it automatically, but also intelligently. In order to design smart and intelligent system, a combination of smart engineers and technologies is needed. We could reach all our goals and cover all the needs
of our customer. Using our system, our customer can benefit financially and technically, and what is most important, to have green yards and gardens in the desert areas and extreme heat conditions.
This article was published in the Armenia Outsourcing Destination Guide. For more interesting articles about the Armenian IT-market, download the guide here:
Ashot Minasyan is a co-Founder, CTO at an energy automation company Bitlismen (www.bitlismen.com). Ashot’s background is Computer Science and National Instruments Technologies. He leaded the design and construction of their own Hydro Power Plant some 10+ years back in Armenia and started his career on Energy, Renewable Energy and Water Automation. He has end users like Aramco and Royal Commission from Saudi Arabia.