Client Manager, Ketek Group
IPCSs monitor and control well-water level and flow rates
Ketek recently completed a multi-million-dollar project for a client that saw us build and deliver 14 Intelligent Pump Control Systems – and their corresponding Mine Compliance Systems – to a client operating in the oil sands.
Our IPCSs are a technology we’ve developed over the last several years. They allow a client to monitor and control the flow of water from a well and to maintain a constant water level in the well. Key components include a Variable Frequency Device, a Programmable Logic Controller, input and output filters, a flow meter, a pressure transducer and sample ports. All the components are enclosed in an insulated cabinet which is heated in winter and cooled in summer.
In the case of this project, the client had been using a competitor’s large, complex systems, which had several unnecessary and/or redundant systems. They didn’t operate well in the cold and were so complicated that operators had a hard time understanding what all the buttons were for. They had also started failing and repairs were a huge cost in both direct expenses and downtime.
The client came to Ketek and asked us to come up with a better system. It had to be fit for purpose, easy to use and completely safe, meeting a variety of regulatory, operational and safety requirements. Our initial design was refined as we went along, and we ended up with a plug-and-play system that does everything required while having a much smaller footprint than any comparable unit used in the industry.
Key components include a Variable Frequency Device, a Programmable Logic Controller, input and output filters, a flow meter, a pressure transducer and sample ports.
It’s a simpler, smaller package that meets the needs of the client. The built-in VFD allows the client to maintain the required water level by controlling the speed of the pump. That is critical, particularly in winter, because otherwise the pump will run at full speed and may drain the well. Then it will stop and freeze. Getting it operating again is a major chore. It’s all held together by a custom-fabricated skid that makes it easy to transport.
The IPCS sits in the open through searing summer temperatures and freezing winter ones. Some are in the mine itself, and others are around the edges of it. Their purpose is to monitor and control the flow of water from a series of wells. The wells and pumps remove groundwater and “depressurize” the mine, allowing the client to mine the area.
IPCSs come with a small PLC screen so operators can see variables like the water level in the well, the flow rate and the total flow. They also come with a high-visibility beacon light that will alert operators from over a kilometre away if there is a problem with the unit.
We’ve also made them for water sources that produce a high concentration of H2S. The modified version comes in stainless steel with specialised flow metres to meet customer criteria.
The Mine Compliance Systems that accompany the IPCSs are a crucial safety device. They work with the IPCS to detect any leakage of electrical current to ground. If it detects any, it shuts down the system, protecting equipment and people. These IPCSs are not on permanent power, so Ketek also provided generators to power them. If the client decides to bring permanent power to the location of the IPCS after the initial install with the generator power, the design allows them to just plug in the permanent power without making any changes to the internal wiring.
Our electrical department ensures all the components work together.
An IPCS with accompanying Mine Compliance System installed and commissioned.
Telemetry can be added as an add-on to allow for remote monitoring of the system by providing the data as per the requirements of the client. This can be added during the fabrication phase or once the systems are installed and running. Some of the other options that can be added are:
- Chemical injection systems to treat the water before discharging into its final location.
- Discharge line purging systems to prevent the lines from freezing during a shutdown.
- Battery backup and solar panels for PLC operation during times of no power. This helps the client to get the critical data even during times of power failures. Adding the solar panels or other renewable energy options extends the life of the battery backup.
While these systems are for running water pumps, the technology can be used to run any kind of motor. Ketek does all design and manufacturing of IPCSs in-house, from the skids through the cabinets to the plumbing and electrical engineering, providing a one-stop shop that can deliver on time and on budget. If you are interested in discussing a system like this with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.