Modular, or mobile home communities are in nearly every state in the U.S., and these homes continue to represent an accessible housing option for millions of American families.
As with all residential communities, from bustling cities to sprawling subdivisions filled with single family homes, developers must plan for water movement and management solutions for every resident. However, modular home communities are traditionally built in unincorporated parts of a municipality, meaning they have to design, build, and maintain their own systems, including lift stations.
This scenario is not uncommon, with large subdivisions frequently stretching into unincorporated land as cities grow and spread, but modular home communities face three unique challenges.
Common Water Management Challenges Faced by Modular Home Communities
1. Aging Infrastructure
Many of these communities were built at least 50 years ago. The infrastructure has already passed end of life and requires servicing or replacement. This often means lift station controllers can only issue common alarms from an alarm light or horn or at best, an old alarm dialer, keeping operators in the dark until they observe the equipment in person.
2. Limited Budgets
Budgetary constraints limit upgrade options for critical infrastructure. One advantage of a modular home community is a low association fee, but this leaves little money for necessary improvements. Over time, this leads to a system that is held together by short-term fixes rather than more appropriate upgrades.
3. Off-site Operators
It is common for developers to own and oversee multiple communities. This allows for resource sharing, leading to operators who are responsible for maintaining all utility management equipment at multiple locations. As a result, response times may be longer, and operators or service personnel bill for travel time to and from distant sites even for phantom alarms or minor issues.
Utilities, Meet the Digital Age
Any one of these challenges would be difficult to contend with on its own, but the combination of all three is the perfect storm for system degradation. Metropolitan Industries’ decades of expertise with water management have enabled us to help modular home communities throughout Illinois update their systems and take advantage of more robust monitoring options. In fact, our MetroCloud remote monitoring and control products are the perfect solution for this trio of challenges.
So, when Blackhawk Estates in Des Plaines, Ill. recently turned to Metropolitan to help them upgrade their lift station controller and meet EPA regulations, we knew just what to offer: The MetroCloud’s LMS II level control system.
This cloud-based controller comes standard with an array of features — including a flow metering algorithm, flushing cycle capabilities, and automated report generation for the EPA — and can be customized to address site-specific needs. With the capacity to manage all of the most common system parameters, every critical aspect can be connected and accounted for. Real-time updates keep operators informed, while round-the-clock system access means alarm severity can be assessed remotely so service calls will only be performed — and invoiced — when absolutely necessary. For increased accountability, the system also tracks when the alarm was received and acknowledged, and which operator handled the issue.
The upgrade allows Blackhawk Estates to feel confident that their lift station is functioning as it should be. They no longer need to buy or update on-site hardware, and Metropolitan even ensures all software is regularly updated, saving Blackhawk Estates time, money, and hassle. Now, the only thing that needs monitoring is the lift station itself.
Naturally, though ease of use and an array of features are important, the team at Metropolitan also made security a top priority.
A “typical” Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system streamlines information access by centralizing the monitoring of large water systems. Unfortunately, older and ”traditional” systems operate with a single on-site computer. This equipment requires regular hardware and software updates and operators typically need to be on-site, as well, to accurately assess alarms.
MetroCloud solutions eliminate these shortcomings by moving everything to cloud servers and storage, and offering system access from anywhere with a cellular signal or internet access. The peace of mind offered at every level makes these systems appealing in a variety of applications, and the inherent cost savings and 24/7 system access make our cloud SCADA systems especially appealing for mobile home communities.
Authorized Users Only
All MetroCloud systems rely on Google and Amazon servers to ensure an uptime of greater than 99.9%, and system access has multiple layers of security.
A virtual private network (VPN) application is added to all approved devices when the system is setup. The VPN is secured with two-factor authentication, accessing system data then requires an additional login, and every user can be setup with their own privileges (e.g. some can have set-point changes, others are limited to monitoring only). Easy management of the user roster also allows the call-out schedule to fit a fluid operator schedule. Finally, Metropolitan programmers are available to help with any questions that may arise.
Looking at the built-in color touch screen on the MetroCloud LMS II, it is easy to forget everything this advanced controller can manage. Ultimately, the same can be said about every product in the MetroCloud family. Despite this deceptively simple appearance, the system will work with you and for you to ease management in a way that no one could have even dreamt of when these mobile home communities were built.
Today, we are excited to showcase all MetroCloud products on our newly redesigned website: metrocloud.us. And, as always, we are here to answer any questions you might have.