DES Global was contracted to supply a power house optimization control system to a mill in Eastern South Carolina. Clay Thomas, APC project engineer at DES, needed a highly reliable solution to recurring physical computer failures, and network faults (disconnects) resulting in data loss and stale (unchanging) data. Using OPC Expert, Thomas set up redundancy parameters enabling him to reduce potential data loss due to physical equipment and software failures.

Thomas’ control system utilizes an Emerson DeltaV, GE MarkVIe, and two Honeywell Experion OPC servers. All communication and redundancy used standards-based OPC Classic and OPC UA, using only one secure port to tunnel and transport information between computers.

DES used OPC Expert to create tunnels from Emerson DeltaV, GE Mark VIe, and redundant Honeywell Experion servers. The main console, running DES Energy Management, recognized OPC Expert as a local OPC server. OPC Expert uses OPC UA to transfer data between tunnel endpoints.

“We needed to set up a system to account for potential computer, network, and communication failures, ensuring we would not lose data necessary for our energy management software. OPC Expert would automatically switch over and begin collecting data from the standby Honeywell Experion OPC server,” Thomas said.

Thomas was tasked with creating a system to protect against potential network interruptions. Originally, he tried using Honeywell’s own software (Redirection Manager), but after being establish reliable channels, turned to OPC Expert. He was able to use OPC Expert’s built-in redundancy features to create a safeguard in the event of communication interruptions. Thomas set it up as a “warm” redundancy, meaning OPC Expert actively received data from only one of the Honeywell servers, but in the event of any network or communication loss from the primary server, OPC Expert would automatically begin tracking data from the secondary (standby) server, minimizing potential data loss. Custom alerts and triggers were activated to alert operators of any interruptions or failovers occurring. Although OPC Expert also includes a hot redundancy option, he was unable to use it because only one Honeywell Experion OPC mercer can run at a time.

In this configuration, OPC Expert uses Warm redundancy as it only transfers data from the primary OPC Server during normal operation. Following a communication error, OPC Expert automatically fails over and begins transferring data from the standby OPC server. OPC Expert also supports Hot redundancy, where it sends data from both OPC servers simultaneously, thus eliminating data loss during OPC communication failures.

With OPC Expert’s redundancy parameters set, DES put in place a system that could grow with any potential future upgrades the plant may have.

“If the client decides to expand their operations by adding another DeltaV or GE Mark VIe server, OPC Expert is already set up to safeguard those servers as well, ensuring a painless transition,” Thomas said.

Using OPC Expert redundancy (including automated failover and reconnection) capabilities, Thomas was able to significantly mitigate potential data loss due to network faults and interruptions.

About DES Global: DES Global is recognized as an industry leader in Energy Management and Advanced Control solutions. DES Global LLC offers dynamic steam header control optimization solutions that minimize total cost of energy at large industrial facilities. DES controls coordinate multi-fuel power boilers, turbine generators, pressure reducing valves and atmospheric vents and to minimize cost of steam generation. DES has assembled a team of professionals with deep experience in operations, engineering, and software development.  All engineering disciplines are represented, allowing DES to address the expansive types of problems in industry today. DES has industry experience in pulp and paper, oil and gas, chemicals and more.

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