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Mosaic mapboard helps monitor gas distribution.

In ancient times, mosaic art was used to tell the stories of war heroes an religious icons. Today, mosaics are used to tell a much different tale, one involving the intricacies of process and system control.

A new mosaic mapboard system recently installed at New Jersey Natural Gas Co. depicts the layout of the utility's 214 miles of natural gas transmission lines and over 500 miles of distribution lines. In addition, the board includes the status of equipment, flow information and pressures and valve settings all superimposed on a graphic of its North and Central New Jersey service territory.

The growing utility recently converted existing office space at its headquarters in Wall Township, NJ, into a new control center to centralize control of its transmission and distribution operation. The centerpiece of the 3,000-square-foot control center is a 12-foot x 25-foot mosaic mapboard manufactured by Mauell Corp. of Dillsburg, PA, a provider of design/build services for control facilities and a supplier of control center equipment including mosaic mapboards.

Out With The Old, In With The New

Moving into a new control center gave New Jersey Natural the opportunity to modernize its control and monitoring procedures and equipment with a state-of-the-art, computerized operator interface. Having previously used paper strip charts to display field data, engineers decided that a dynamic system that could graphically mimic its pipeline and distribution systems would benefit operational efficiency and reliability.

Gary Edinger, senior vice president of energy services at New Jersey Natural Gas, said a flexible mosaic mapboard was chosen as the operator-machine interface for its new control center because of the system's ability to dynamically depict the overall system activities in real time using the mosaic technology distributed I/O System.

"The paper strip charts we previously used only showed us a small piece of the total picture," Edinger said. "Our mosaic system offers the 'big picture'. With a global view of our territory, operators can keep a constant and more efficient check on the system all at a glance from any control room location."

New Jersey Natural operators and supervisory personnel have found the mosaic system a useful and effective gas management tool. The mapboard is comprised of individual mosaic tiles engraved with portions of pipeline and local distribution companies' state boundaries and graphic representations of various process plants. Each plastic tile is aligned with neighboring tiles and snapped into a grid carrier that forms a continuous mapboard surface.

Mosaics modular construction allows light emitting diodes (LED) and digital readouts to be integrated into the mapboard to display inlet/outlet pressures, line flows at various points across the system and security status at two LNG plants.

Illustrated on the center of the mosaic control panel is the state of New Jersey and the outline of New Jersey Natural's service territory. To either side of the center panel is an enlarged and more detailed representation of the counties serviced by the company. Included in this graphic are the utility's major transmission and distribution systems as well as its two LNG plants.

"While operators use CRTs to monitor the details of any one of the 90 stations controlling almost 5,500 points within the distribution system, it is our mosaic mapboard with its global view that enhances safety and efficiency by providing up-to-the-minute visual status of our entire pipeline system," Edinger said.

"Other operator interfaces could not paint such a detailed picture with the same clarity as mosaic. Communication between operators and supervisors is clear and accurate and the safety of those working in the field is enhanced."

Getting The Message Across

In addition to upgrading to a technologically advanced operator interface, New Jersey Natural also installed a new Fisher System Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system as part of its new control center. The SCADA is integrated with a Mauell distributed input/output (I/O) system which drives the mapboard's 200 digital readouts and 150 status LEDs. A fiber optic network was installed to relay information collected by Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) to a PC running the SCADA system.

Field data digitized by the SCADA is sent over a RS485 network to the Mauell digital output (DO128) and binary coded decimal (BCD32) controllers that distribute data to indicating devices across the board. Because the controllers do not manipulate data a second time, they assure the accuracy and reliability of the information displayed on the mapboard. The DO128 and the BCD32's I/O system capability allow for cost-effective expansion of New Jersey Natural's dynamic indication as the system grows.

The Mauell I/O system also works in conjunction with the SCADA operator-machine interface to display changes in the field. A change in system pressure made at an operator workstation in the field, is processed by the SCADA and immediately displayed on the mapboard by the I/O system.

Easy Maintenance

Overall maintenance of the mosaic system is simple and in-expensive. Physical changes to the mapboard graphic can be made without destructive means by simply popping a tile from its position in the mapboard and snapping a new one in its place. No matter how often the mapboard is reconfigured, it never loses its visual integrity.

"For a utility that's been growing by 3 percent a year, we can continue to upgrade the mapboard with no difficulty," Edinger said. "Adding new pipeline sections or making a change to existing systems has no impact on the aesthetics of the board."

Just as mosaics of the past have showed great endurance, so have mosaics of the process control realm. With a useful life of 20 years and beyond, mosaics have the capability to stand the test of time. "And that's very important to us," Edinger said. "Opening a new control center requires a sizable investment and any return you can get on that investment is significant."
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Title Annotation:New Jersey Natural Gas Co. installs mosaic mapboard system
Publication:Pipeline & Gas Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1996
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