Invensys and Apprion Implement Secure Wireless Infrastructure at LCRA Lost Pines Power Park

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Initial applications include wireless, hands-free voice communications throughout Sim Gideon and Lost Pines power plants.

There's certainly a lot of hype in the marketplace about wireless technology being the next game-changer in automation

Invensys Process Systems and its strategic partner, Apprion, have successfully implemented a secure, managed wireless infrastructure plus several initial productivity-enhancing wireless applications at the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Lost Pines Power Park. The park is located near Bastrop in central Texas. The Lost Pine Power Park houses both the LCRA-owned Sim Gideon Power Plant and the Lost Pines 1 Power Project, owned by Gen-Tex, an LCRA affiliate. Together, the two plants can generate up to 1,165 MW, or enough electricity to meet the peak demands of approximately 250,000 homes. LCRA has recently merged these two plants under one functional management system, and with assistance from Invensys and Apprion, has implemented a new layered WiMax/WiFi wireless infrastructure to help link the two plants.

"We're always looking at new technologies that can help us maintain our competitive edge while meeting or exceeding regulatory requirements," commented David Runkle, production manager at LCRA's Lost Pines Power Park. "Invensys' comprehensive managed approach to the new wireless technology has enabled us to unify both plants in the Lost Pines Power Park under a common communications system at a fraction of the cost of a wired solution, while providing an extremely flexible platform for future wireless-enabled applications, including remote equipment condition monitoring and tank farm level monitoring."

The joint Invensys/Apprion wireless communications solution for LCRA includes:

  •     Comprehensive site assessment study
  •     Wireless network design, engineering, installation, and commissioning
  •     Application qualification, implementation, and integration
  •     Ongoing network administration, performance monitoring and tuning, security monitoring, infrastructure evaluation, scheduled upgrades, and around the clock system monitoring

Initial wireless infrastructure-enabled applications now in place at LCRA's Lost Pines Power Park include:

  •     Common, sitewide, mobile Voice Over IP (VoIP) system for hands-free, "push-to-talk" personal communications and paging anywhere in the Lost Pines Power Park via a WiMax broadband umbrella
  •     Wireless Public Address (PA) system

Planned Phase 2 applications under consideration include:

  •     Remote wireless equipment condition monitoring
  •     Ammonia leak detection/alarm system
  •     Wireless fuel oil tank farm tank level monitoring
  •     Wireless material transfer monitoring
  •     Remote perimeter security video monitoring
  •     Tablet PCs that will provide process control operators with remote wireless access to the Foxboro and Westinghouse control systems currently installed in the Sim Gideon and Lost Pines power plants, respectively.

"There's certainly a lot of hype in the marketplace about wireless technology being the next game-changer in automation," said Dave Runkle. "And while this might indeed be true, it also means that the technology is still relatively unproven in many of the types of industrial wireless applications that we are considering. Not only do Invensys and Apprion appear to have an excellent handle on what it takes to implement and manage a cohesive wireless network over time, based on the highly successful track record of our 10+ year strategic technology partnership with Invensys, we are highly confident that the benefits will be sustainable."    

About Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA)
LCRA supplies low-cost electricity for Central Texas, manages water supplies and floods in the lower Colorado River basin, develops water and wastewater utilities, provides public parks, and supports community and economic development. LCRA sells wholesale electricity to more than 40 retail utilities, including cities and electric cooperatives that serve more than one million people in 53 counties, and operates more than 3,300 miles of transmission lines statewide. LCRA is ranked as the nation's 10th-largest public power producer by the American Public Power Association.

LCRA is a conservation and reclamation district created by the Texas Legislature in 1934. It has no taxing authority and operates solely on utility revenues and fees generated from supplying energy, water and community services. The mission of the Lower Colorado River Authority is to provide reliable, low-cost utility and public services in partnership with its customers and communities and to use its leadership and environmental authority to ensure the protection and constructive use of the area's natural resources. More information about LCRA can be found at http://www.lcra.org.

About Apprion
Apprion provides the ION system - an integrated platform that optimizes the security, management, performance and business value of wireless systems deployed in industrial manufacturing environments. The ION wireless infrastructure can be deployed across a single facility, or across multiple operational areas to help cut costs, improve efficiency, productivity and performance, enhance safety and security, and provide more meaningful analytical metrics of plant systems and assets. Headquartered at NASA Research Park at Moffett Field, Calif., more information about Apprion can be found at: http://www.apprion.com, by e-mail at info@apprion.com or by phone at 650/934-5700.

About Invensys
Invensys is the world leader in industrial asset performance management, a strategy designed to help today's industrial enterprises to effectively balance the availability and utilization of their production assets to match changing business requirements. In addition to its rapidly expanding Global Solutions and Performance Management services groups, Invensys' automation businesses includes industry-leading brands such as Foxboro, Triconex, SimSci-Esscor, Wonderware, and Avantis, whose products are installed in more than 100,000 plants across the world. These range from small hybrid and batch plants to the world's largest upstream projects, refineries, gas plants, petrochemicals plants, power plants, and pulp and paper mills. For more information on Invensys' process automation businesses, please visit http://www.invensys.com/ps.     
The Invensys Group (http://www.invensys.com) is headquartered in London and is listed on the London Stock Exchange, with approximately 30,000 employees working in 60 countries.

Invensys, Foxboro, I/A Series, Triconex, SimSci-Esscor, Wonderware, and Avantis are trademarks of Invensys plc, its subsidiaries, or affiliates. All other brands and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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