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Rockwell Automation powers NuWater developed desalination plant

Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture system drives processes in desalination plant that aids in continuous smelter operation.

Water specialist company NuWater developed a two megalitre desalination plant at a smelter plant in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. Rockwell Automation Sub-Saharan Africa, through the collaboration of its PartnerNetwork program participants, authorised distributor CraigCor Distribution and its Rockwell Automation recognised system integrator (RcSI) M&M Electronics, supplied automation products and conducted programming and HMI development for use in the desalination plant.

The desalination plant facilitates continuous smelter operations in the face of water shortages due to the severe drought that saw local dam levels drop to alarmingly low levels.


NuWater incorporated the Integrated Architecture system into their automation and control development by means of Rockwell Automation Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Human-Machine Interface (HMI) with visualisation control software, Variable Speed Drives (VSD) and industrial network equipment as well as the powering switchgear componentry. Integrated Architecture system-enabling products included a ControlLogix L73 Processor, Distributed I/O Model through a quantity of 10 stations that utilise POINTIO modules, one main Network Redundancy through Device Level Ring (DLR), 22 PowerFlex 755 VSDs (up to 110 kW) and Rockwell Automation Moulded Case Circuit Breaker Switchgear.

“As our and other water stressed nations turn to seawater desalination as a solution to process and drinking water, it is advantageous to be leading the way in terms of our product offering,” says NJ Bouwer, Chief Business Development Officer, NuWater. He adds that most of the equipment offered to the smelter was refurbished to help make sure that the short lead times required could be met. “The existing equipment already had MCCs and control centres, which we decided to refit with the latest Rockwell Automation product portfolio. Although many manufacturers have similar product offerings, it is hard to find robust and reliable equipment that can withstand the rigors of working in these often wet and humid environments.”

“Water industry professionals around the world face an increase in challenges due to stringent government regulations and aging control systems,” says Jacques Jacobs, Account Manager – OEMs, Rockwell Automation.  “This causes tighter water quality standards and rising labour, operating and maintenance costs. The Rockwell Automation vision of The Connected Enterprise is what helps overcome some of these challenges. Through the Integrated Architecture system and the connection of smart devices, new windows of opportunity into processes open. Data and analytics enable better and faster decision-making, while seamless connectivity spurs new collaboration.”

Commissioning was conducted in October/November 2016 and the Rockwell Automation RcSI, M&M Electronics, formed part of the plant commissioning team.


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