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Easy update for power station control system

Klaus Wendelberger of Siemens has developed a computer based system which simplifies the update of control systems for power stations. 

Control systems are the brain and nerves of a power plant. They allow operators in a control center to run the plant via simple mouse clicks and maintain an overview of all the processes on a series of displays. 

However, the lifespan of computer technology is shorter than that of power plant technology; that’s why a plant’s control technology has to be replaced with state-of-the-art systems every 20 years or so.

The replacement process is very time-consuming and expensive. For one thing, the supplier of the control technology has to laboriously align the new control system with the parameters of the old one.

This requires the examination of countless control system documents provided by the power plant operator. What paths are followed by the cables between the control system and the power plant equipment? How were the signals from the individual power plant components previously read in and analysed?

Up until now, this process frequently involved tens of thousands of plans whose content had to be analysed, translated, and transferred to the plans for the new system at a speed of around ten minutes per plan.

The goal of Wendelberger was to automate the project planning process as extensively and logically as possible. The team spent about three and a half years developing this idea and gradually implementing it in a solution. 

A computer-based system is now utilising the knowledge they gained. The system automatically reads the texts and images of many thousand documents, partly with the help of semantic recognition programs, or interprets them itself.

It also immediately translates everything it reads into the language used by a Siemens control system. This automatic translation of sequential function charts has now been used for about one year – and in ten projects to date. 

The experts now only have to enter a power plant’s boundary conditions into the computer. The data that are entered include the power plant type and its specifications, such as the output in megawatts. 

To put it simply, just the push of a button is now all it takes for the system to generate the complete project plans for the new instrumentation and control system. 

The automatic translation now only takes two to three days of processing time. It saves as much as 30 percent costs in the control system engineering operations.

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