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By implementing new alarm management and KPI Reporting software from M.A.C Solutions UK Ltd., engineers at a UK-based biomass power station are now able to easily and quickly identify KPIs for alarm trends and to analyse the root causes of plant upsets (i.e. events that lead to a loss of production).

ProcessVue is a suite of software from M.A.C Solutions that provides clear, relevant and prioritised information to plant operators, supervisors and managers, enabling them to make better-informed decisions about their processes and plant safety. The software combines the latest communication, data logging and reporting technologies with more than 20 years’ experience in design and implementation of Alarm Management and Printer Replacement software. ProcessVue can be used as a standalone application or to bring together multiple disparate systems onto one common platform.

Like all products from M.A.C Solutions, ProcessVue is based on open technologies. The software uses the latest .net technology from Microsoft, ensuring compatibility with customers’ existing and future operating systems. ProcessVue uses the industry standard SQL database, TCP/IP system architecture and the latest Ajax ‘Zero Footprint’ web-based clients.

ProcessVue’s architecture has been designed to enable interfacing with almost any control system, bringing all data into a standard configurable format. This allows simple Operator Sequence of Event [SOE] display and high level KPI reporting and analysis. These disparate systems might include SCADA systems, Distributed Control Systems, emergency shutdown, fire control, buildings management or any system that can output data in an ASCII format. With ProcessVue, all alarm sources are put into a standard, open format so that operators can view the KPIs without anyone having to write complex code or script.

The UK-based power station operates on a Siemens’ PCS 7 DCS/SCADA system, which handles all process data and alarms. As an efficient, lean power station, it is critical that the site’s IT systems enable the control and instrumentation engineers to access process data and alarms quickly and easily, particularly if they need to report to higher management on a recent plant upset. Power stations typically witness thousands of events each day that need to be recorded, as well as safety-critical processes that need to be monitored and managed in terms of process alarms.

In 2010, the power station approached M.A.C Solutions to ask for help in providing easier, faster access to plant process data. Within days, M.A.C Solutions had implemented ProcessVue at the site, enabling the power station’s engineering team to access process alarm data and KPI reports securely and safely from the plant control room and from anywhere via an Internet browser. ProcessVue allows the team to view the sequence of events leading up to a plant upset. Engineers can then export this data in Microsoft Excel format and email it to senior management.

Now, if the power station has a trip on a safety-critical system, for example, as part of its engineering management processes, it needs to record this for audit and reporting purposes. A good example is the boiler drum at the site, which acts as a storage vessel, ensuring that the boiler furnace tubes are full of water at all times. The drum also feeds steam to the superheaters and ultimately to the turbine. This vessel must never run dry as this would cause damage to the boiler. Similarly, if the drum was to overfill, this could severely damage boiler superheater tubes and the steam turbine. Therefore, the water level in the drum is continuously monitored and controlled using level sensors. Should the drum level fail, the engineering team needs to ensure that the plant shuts down safely and that any such event is recorded. All safety-critical processes at the site are therefore monitored and recorded using ProcessVue.

Connection from ProcessVue to the Siemens PCS 7 system is via a serial connection from the plant’s primary and secondary business IT system. Outputs are taken from a serial interface into the ProcessVue server. This is then linked to the business enterprise-wide network. Two identical feeds are used, one redundant and one live feed, which provide the power station with a back-up system.


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