The Story 

 On more than one occasion sewage lift station failures have resulted in sewage being released to the environment, and backing up into customers’ homes. But, the Pearl River County Utility Authority (PRCUA) has found a way to avoid expensive cleanups, and prevent household disasters for its customers. By teaming with a local technology development firm, the Simple Cellular Alarm Telemetry Unit (SCATU) is now on the job monitoring “high risk” lift stations and notifying the operators of any trouble before it becomes a disaster.

The Beginning

After a second cleanup of a customer’s home, Cliff Diamond, General Manager of the PRCUA was determined to find a way to stop a lift station failure from causing problems like this again.  Preventative Maintenance (PM) was a good place to start. This meant replacing old components before they failed. Also inspecting systems daily could catch some problems. But, unfortunately even with the best PM program, a simple power failure or a few diaper wipes clogging a pump intake can make a lift station overflow in just a few hours.

While most lift stations have a trouble indicator light, few people notice or know they should call if they see it illuminated. Some of the larger more modern lift stations have SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) systems that constantly monitor their condition.  But the cost of retrofitting a typical lift station with compatible SCADA equipment could cost over $10,000 per station.  This would be an expensive undertaking even if only half of the 54 lift stations of PRCUA were so equipped.  There must be a simpler, less expensive method of solving the problem, Diamond thought.

Diamond put the problem to W. L. “Bud” Nail of Technological Services Company(TSC), a former NASA Test Engineer at Stennis Space Center with an office in the same building as PRCUA in Picayune.  “Cliff really had a good handle on what was needed.  He has a background, not only in waste water systems, but also in electrical equipment and control systems.  He had done his homework and knew that nothing in his target budget range was available. But he knew it was technically feasible and if someone was clever enough they could build it at a reasonable price.  He even came up with the name. Our part was to add our experience, contacts and a bit of innovation to realize his dream.” - Nail

So a team was formed. Diamond representing PRCUA, issued the first purchase order for a SCATU and agreed to help define the critical features that were needed for the prototype unit as well as provide critical feedback as the design progressed and ultimately field tested.  TSC did the detailed design and engineering, and worked to secure parts suppliers and a manufacturer. In less than 8 weeks, the first SCATU was in the field at work and a second unit was on its way. 

“Some board members and support contractors were not convinced that a rugged industrial quality device, with this much capability, at this price was possible.  But seeing, is believing. I let them kill the power, and press buttons. In less than a minute, my cell phone beeped and I could show them text messages describing the problem and the address. For some locations the SCATU meets our needs as well as systems costing five to ten times as much.  The system actually turned out better than I imagined, and I have a pretty good imagination.” - Diamond


The Present

SCATU's are now available to utility companies throughout the USA. They are sold by Local Independent Authorized Representatives and nationwide by VideComp, Inc.

SCATU's are manufactured in the USA, by VideComp, Inc. Under license from Technological Services Company (TSC).

ShieldSpec LLC has been named as a Tier 1 Distributor and authorized to sign up new sales representatives and assist in volume sales.