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Invensys Process Systems (IPS) has implemented a 5GHz private wireless network at William Grant and Sons’ distillery to control and monitor ground-water extraction.

William Grant and Sons wanted to ensure sustainability and to maintain maximum production and quality, so it asked IPS to develop an environmentally friendly system that would control remote borehole pumps from the floor of the distillery.

Unauthorised water extraction can shorten supply, increase pollution, damage wildlife habitats and dry-up rivers.

Because the boreholes are located in some of Scotland’s most beautiful countryside, the IPS system had to be unobtrusive and keep with the natural surroundings.

To comply with licensing requirements, water flow and level in the boreholes had to be monitored so that pumps could be turned on and off from the distillery control room.

After a thorough appraisal, IPS implemented a wireless system on the 5GHz-licensed radio band, which provides reliable communication with the borehole pumps and keeps interference with existing wireless networks to a minimum.

A 5GHz private wireless network communicates reliably with the boreholes and has a different operating frequency from conventional Wifi networks, keeping interference to a minimum.

Small and unobtrusive antennae ensure minimal impact on the rural surroundings.

IPS has also employed mesh technology, enabling all locations to communicate over multiple paths, ensuring resilience and redundancy.

Julian Pye, leader of William Grant and Sons’ brewing and utilities teams at the Girvan Distillery, said: ‘The wireless solution IPS provided is highly secure and offers ease of expandability so that additional boreholes or other remote plant installations can be added.

‘Our investment also gives us the opportunity to integrate other systems onto the wireless infrastructure, such as video and voice networks for site security and safety.’ The project was complicated by the presence of pipistrelle bats, which have temporarily halted work at two of the borehole pump houses.

William Grant and Sons contacted a bat expert who reported that the bat-roosts in the pump houses were unoccupied, but would almost certainly be reoccupied in the future.

He also confirmed that the wireless installation work would not disturb the bats to any significant extent, meaning the project could be completed.

The bats will be able to reoccupy the pump houses in subsequent years without interfering with the distillery’s operations.

Although two sites are on hold because of the bats, the remainder of the network is communicating over the wireless mesh.

IPS has calculated that once the remaining sites are brought online, the redundancy of the wireless network will be tripled, ensuring that multiple paths from the distillery to the borehole pump houses and back to the distillery remain open.

One failed transmitter will not stop signals being sent and received.

The installed system has enabled water supply to be matched to the distillery’s daily or hourly needs.

Invensys Operations Management

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