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Case Study: Gazprom, Russia

Gazprom integrates SCADA, HMI modules, RTUs, data processing and historical archiving

Gazprom, the largest gas producing company in the world and responsible for 8% of Russia’s GDP, is using the DataHub® to monitor and control pumps, valves, consumption control units, cranes, and other equipment along 23,000 kilometers of pipeline spanning much of western Russia. The control system was developed by the Federal State Unitary Enterprise and is called the Unified Remote-Control Complex, or UNK TM. Software sales and support were provided by SWD Software Ltd., a QNX and Cogent distributor in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“The DataHub was the perfect tool for the job,” said Mr. Leonid Agafonov, Managing Director of SWD. “It is easy to use and provides robust connectivity for the whole control system. Our customer is very pleased with the project, particularly the reliability of the software.”

The system is an open, distributed-information control system with modular hardware architecture running on the QNX 4 operating system. A DataHub operates in each Control Room, and is connected to a number of Remote Terminal Units (RTUs), which in turn are connected to valves, pumps, and other hardware. The DataHub is also connected to a SCADA system, various HMI modules, and the Cascade Historian, which stores data to disk.

The system provides real-time operation, a multi-window graphical user interface, data processing components, and archival disk storage of data. Workstation devices and services, such as electrochemical protection and operational service can be added or removed at any time. There is also teletext communication between the Control Room and the RTUs, through the DataHub.

The Unified Remote-Control Complex has successfully passed tests administered by the Interdepartmental State Testing Commission and has been recommended for use at OAO “Gazprom” units and facilities. The system was developed by the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “FNPZ Y.E.Sedakov NIIIS”. It has a Measurement Instrumentation Approval Certification #6398 and is listed as #18430-99 in the State Measurement Instrumentation Register.

Case Study: University of California, Berkeley, USA

DataHub is used to integrate data for distributed control of unmanned aerial vehicles

For the past several years, students and faculty at the Vehicle Dynamics Lab (VDL) of the University of California, Berkeley, have been developing a system of coordinated distributed control, communications, and vision-based control among a group of several unmanned aircraft. A single user can control the fleet of aircraft, and command it to carry out complex missions such as patrolling a border, following a highway, or visiting a specified location. Each airplane carries a video camera and an on-board computer, and communicates with the groundstation and the other aircraft in the formation. The control algorithms are so sophisticated that the fleet can carry out certain missions completely autonomously—without any operator intervention.

The control system for each aircraft runs on a PC 104 computer with a QNX6 operating system. Control is divided into three kinds of processes: communication, image processing, and task control. All of these processes interact through the DataHub running in QNX. The DataHub® is a memory-resident, real-time database that allows multiple processes to share data on a publish-subscribe basis. For this application, each process writes its data to the DataHub, and subscribes to the data of each other process on a read-only basis. In this way, each process gains access to the data it needs from the other processes, while avoiding problems associated with multi-processing data management.

For example, the communication software comprises three separate processes: The Piccolo process controls the aircraft, the Payload process communicates with users on the ground, and the Orinoco process handles communications with the other aircraft. Needless to say, each of these three programs needs information from the other two, as well as from the video and task control packages. All of this data is transferred seamlessly through the DataHub.

“The DataHub has contributed a great deal to our software integration,” said Brandon Basso, one of the VDL team members. “Its ability to restrict write privileges to each shared variable of the owner processes avoids many of the difficulties associated with multi-process management.”

For task control, there are two primary software packages: Waypoint controls visits to specified locations, while Orbit handles the orbiting “patrol” of a group of locations. These processes are monitored by a third, supervisory process called Switchboard. In addition to coordinating these processes, decisions must be made by the different aircraft as to which plane will take on which task. The complex calculations needed for this decentralized task allocation are mediated through the DataHub.

Waypoint and Orbit use input from the vision control and vision process. Prior to takeoff, certain algorithms are applied to previously recorded videos, to create a visual profile of the area, which is maintained by the vision control. In the air, this data must be compared to what the plane is currently flying over. A camera on the wing of the plane feeds data to the vision process, which analyzes the content and generates meaningful information about objects on the ground, such as waypoints on a river or road. This live content, along with the stored visual profile in the vision control, is fed through the DataHub to Waypoint and Orbit.

According to the paper, A Modular Software Infrastructure for Distributed Control of Collaborating UAVs, published by the University of California Berkeley which describes it in detail, this project marks “a major milestone in UAV cooperation: decentralized task allocation for a dynamically changing mission, via onboard computation and direct aircraft-to-aircraft communication.” Skkynet is pleased that the DataHub has played an important role in the success of this endeavour.

Case Study: KuibyshevAzot Chemical Plant, Russia

Russian chemicals giant KuibyshevAzot uses the DataHub to link Yokogawa DCS to proprietary system in QNX

Deep in the heart of Russia, on the banks of the Volga River, stands one of the country’s most successful chemical plants: KuibyshevAzot. Founded in 1966, the company produced over 1.7 million tons of chemicals last year, with sales volumes close to ½ billion dollars. Through constant technology upgrades, the plant maintains the highest efficiency levels in all of Russia for ammonia production–and higher than average efficiency levels for nitrogen fertilizer production.

One of the goals at KuibyshevAzot is to update and re-equip the plant to optimize the consumption of raw materials and energy. To meet this goal they recently installed a Yokogawa CENTUM CS3000 Distributed Control System to control their ammonia production process. They were satisfied with the performance of this state-of-the-art system, but there was one question – how to interface with their Plant Information System Server?

The Plant Information System Server is KuibyshevAzot’s proprietary system that collects live process data, calculates technical and economic performance indicators, and generates reports-processing more than 900 variables simultaneously in real time. Due to its mission-critical status, the system runs on the QNX real-time operating system. Getting the data from the Yokogawa control system into the Plant Information System was vital to the overall success of the project.

To create the data link, KuibyshevAzot chose the Windows and QNX versions of the DataHub® from Cogent Real-Time Systems.

Each of these DataHubs is an off-the-shelf middleware program that collects and distributes real-time data. The DataHub that runs in Windows can connect to any OPC server, such as the Yokogawa ExaOPC Server used in the project. On the QNX side, the QNX version of the DataHub was connected to the Plant Information System server. Once connected to their respective systems, the two DataHubs establish a TCP mirroring connection across the network to create a Windows – QNX real-time data link.

“This connection has saved us a lot of money in development time,” said a company spokesperson. “The major requirement was to save our existing information system. The deployment of DataHubs saved us time and money because there was no need to purchase, develop, or configure a new information system. The update process was seamless. We kept our existing information display consoles and report forms. All we had to do was add more report forms and update the information displays.”

SWD Logo

“KuibyshevAzot needed something robust, something they could trust with their vital data,” said Leonid Agafanov, Managing Director of SWD Software, Cogent’s local distributor who was involved in the project. “Linking the DataHub in QNX to the DataHub in Windows combined the strengths of both systems.”