Water shortages, due primarily to global warming and drought conditions, are one of the leading concerns of countries worldwide, and for Israel in particular. 2014 is proving to be one of the most severe drought-stricken years the country has experienced in decades. The primary solution to water shortages today is seawater desalination, facilitating the production of high-quality water from seawater at competitive prices.

DSL (owned jointly by IDE Technologies and Hutchison Water) built the largest facility of its kind in the world for seawater desalination at Soreq, with a capacity of 624,000 cubic meters of water per day. The seawater desalination plant at Soreq is not only the largest of its kind in the world, but is also the most advanced. The plant sets a new standard of performance in terms of production and costs, providing significant savings for the local water sector, reducing the country’s watershortages, and using advanced membrane desalination technology from IDE to reduce investment costs, minimize energy consumption and increase production. Additional steps were also taken, such as pipe jacking of long and large-diameter pipes, as well as treatment and disposal of sludge to specially authorized areas in order to minimize the impact on the land and marine environment.

The “brain” behind the Soreq water desalination plant, a central control system from Rockwell Automation,commanding 11,000 control points, was supplied by Contel Automation and Control Ltd., which specializes in the supply of equipment and systems for industrial automation, HVACR control,  building control, and process control.

“After a lengthy investigation, IDE chose the process control solutions from Rockwell Automation, placing emphasis on a central control system at the forefront of technology worldwide”, said Jacky Ben Yaish, Engineering Division Manager at IDE Technologies.

Contel Automation and Control Ltd. used ControlLogix controllers in the L75 Seriesfrom Rockwell Automation, the very latest and most powerful controllers on the market, featuring larger memory, which increases the speed, enabling multiple communications connections, and eliminating the need to split controllers. This in turn contributed to cost savings for SDP, the company that built the plant (fewer controllers and less hardware) and shortened the development time.

PlantPax was selected as the process control system for the project, a software package built in the shape of an integrated architecture, geared to controllers, and enabling efficient command and control,since each of the system components has a defined responsibility (which also streamlines the software development process).

Contel Automation and Control designed the communications networks and the industrial networking switches. The communications at the desalination plant is based on Ethernet/IPtechnology, built around a ringtopology for closed communications, increasing plant safety and efficiency; if one of the plant’s communications lines is disconnected or damaged, another line provides backup, preventing a break in communication. The IO components hail from the FLEX I/O Series. The card is the most reliable one on the market today, in terms of cost/benefit, flexibility, modularity and reliability. Components in the FLEX I/O are fully adapted to Ethernet/IPprotocol.

Contel Automation and Control was chosen to supply both the control cabinets and the IO cabinets in which the hardware accessories are installed. The main advantage of this decision by SDP is having one reliable and professional supplier who takes full responsibility for both the design and the hardware accessories.

The SCADA system selected is from Rockwell Automation’sFactory Talk View Series. The system is fully adapted to working with the selected controllers, facilitating direct access by the controllers to the information system, and affording the desalination plant multiple benefits: more efficient operation of the controllers as the need for duplicate definitions are eliminated; a faster work rate; a major reduction in errors, and greater plant safety and reliability.

The software for the control system was developed by a jointcustomer team that included an engineer from Contel. The development team wrote the software for the controllers and for the SCADA system using the Rockwell Automation development tool, on the basis of the system’s operation as defined by IDE’s process engineers.

The Soreq water desalination plant began operating at full capacity in October 2013,producing 624,000 cubic meters of water per day (and with ready infrastructurefor future expansion), and meeting the needs of 20% of the Israel’s municipal water consumption.

“Thanks to Rockwell Automation’s modular control system, and Contel’s involvement in both the design and the performance stages, we implemented the project successfully, without any budget overruns”

“The process control system was built using modular object libraries, and was developed with a view to the future needs and to IDE Technologies’ future projects”, Jacky Ben Yaish added.

Contel Automation and Control, together with its subsidiary, “Hydrocom Control Systems Ltd., provides automation and control solutions for optimal operation of water supply systems, desalination plants and wastewater treatment plants. Projects are led by a team of engineers with a proven track record in the water industries.