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Find out how SAGE completed a world-first installation of GE's CPE115 PLC to upgrade local water treatment plants in ten regional towns throughout South Australia's Riverland. 


Utilities: Water


SAGE Automation delivered PLC upgrades for 10 water treatment plants throughout the Riverland region.  This helped our client to secure future water reliability for regional customers and increase process efficiency within the plant. 


Turnkey project, blackbox upgrade, 5-hour changeover, SCADA, PLC, RTU, cybersecurity.


Multiple towns, Riverlands, South Australia

James Gorman, Water Treatment Coordinator, SA Water

"The dedication and commitment expressed by the SAGE team has been amazing. This project has thrown its fair share of challenges at them and they have responded in a professional manner and worked endlessly to develop the solution to fit the control philosophy to meet our requirements and desired outcomes. "


Ten Riverland townships in South Australia receive their water supply from local Water Treatment Plants (WTP) managed by SA Water. The WTPs take water from the River Murray and process it into safe drinking water, which is done at such high quality that it has been voted the best-tasting tap water in South Australia by the Water Industry Operators Association of Australia (WIOA).

The aging control systems at these sites were running at capacity and didn’t meet the standards of the organisation. This meant it was becoming increasingly hard to support and needed an upgrade.

SA Water needed to ensure this critical infrastructure was aligned with their SCADA and cybersecurity standards, as well as providing them with the resources to grow over the next 10-15 years. Most importantly, the plants needed to be able to continuously supply high-quality water throughout any upgrade process.


SA Water engaged SAGE Automation to replace 28 PLCs and 10 SCADA systems across all of these sites over a period of 2.5 years. This allowed technologies and architectures to be used that are now helping to reshape the way the organisation implements control systems.

The ECI process allowed SAGE to lead the design process with a core group of customer stakeholders. A highly functional group of experts from across the organisation and the industry worked together to solve issues as they arose, using the best technology.

The resulting solution provided a number of technological firsts for the business.

Water Treatment Plant UpgradeThe project required delivery of control system infrastructure that would handle additional growth over the next 10-15 years. 


World-first installation of GE’s CPE115 PLC. This project has implemented 28 of the new PLCs and was the first site in the world to use the PLC in a production environment. The features of this PLC allowed the field IO to be retained, reducing overall project risk and ensuring the shortest possible cutover time.

The ECI process allowed SAGE to prototype and implement a number of new technologies that had not been used by SA Water for control systems before. This has been used as a base for a change in how the SCADA platform is considered across the whole business.

Further outcomes included:

  • Upgrade to iFIX SCADA 5.9
  • Virtualised SCADA server architecture
  • Thin client interface
  • Fixed Wireless NBN and 4GX architecture for remote access.

Installation Of PLCsSAGE Automation replaced 28 PLCs and 10 SCADA systems with no interruption to the water supply.

Fast changeover ensures no interruption to water supply

Because the infrastructure provides the community with its only water supply, it was highly critical that the hardware upgrade was quick and seamless.

“Some sites have less than a day of reserve storage, so we needed to change over the new system quickly or risk the town running out of water.” SAGE Senior Systems Engineer, Mark Dankiw said.

“Using the GE PLC hardware, a well-trained team and a detailed plan, we were able to perform the total changeover to the new system in less than 5 hours,” he said.

Client benefits from the increased efficiency of water treatment plants

The site upgrades have enabled SA Water to secure future water reliability for its regional customers and increase process efficiency within the plant. 

The solution also includes:

  • 10 times faster PLC with 15 times more memory
  • the ability to control multiple sites simultaneously
  • increased accuracy in trending and reporting
  • active cybersecurity monitoring and protection
  • communications and operational redundancy. 

Technology used:

  • GE CPE115 PLC
  • iFIX SCADA 5.9
  • NBN
  • 4GX
  • Cisco
  • Virtualised Server Infrastructure
  • SCADAPhone
  • ECI contract model.

Is your organisation in need of a scalable control system to make managing your assets easier? SAGE Automation has more than 20 years' experience delivering system upgrades to critical water supplies. Get in touch to discuss your project requirements. 

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