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 cost effective and lasting solution to recurring network faults such as disconnects, data loss, and stale data. With the help of the OPC Training Institute, Thomas was able to set up secure tunnels enabling him to bypass DCOM configuration, as well as set-up redundancy protocols on different servers in the plant.

“We were having constant connection problems that required us to manually fix, leading to a loss of time and productivity. When we got OPC Expert set-up, it did a lot of that stuff for us automatically behind the scenes,” Thomas said.

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.

Thomas was experiencing many communication interruptions due to network faults, OPC server availability (uptime) issues, and even stale data issues, impacting DES optimization software efficiency. His powerhouse optimization control system experienced recurring interruptions connecting to the plants three control systems (Emerson DeltaV, GE Mark VIe, and Honeywell Experion).

To overcome these problems, DES could have added many data fault-detection features into their software, but that would have taken their attention away from their main purpose: saving money through energy production optimization. Instead, DES chose to let OPC Expert handle the necessary details of communication verification. OPC Expert collected data from all control systems and presented DES with one reliable local connection.

Thomas found a cost-effective solution to his problem using OPC Expert. With OPC Expert running on each computer, he created a tunnel (using OPC UA) between them and the main console, which was also running OPC Expert. OPC Expert used only one port for all communication so it was easy to manage. The control server was able to recognize OPC Expert as a local OPC server, enabling a secure and reliable connection to each individual server. Thomas was also able to set up redundancy parameters in OPC Expert, so his control system was always aware of communication status. During network disruption events, OPC Expert automatically reconnected, minimizing downtime, while informing his control system of failovers and retries.

Thomas was able to drastically reduce network faults and ensure a secure connection to his main control console. Choosing to go with OPC Expert proved to be a cost effective and timely alternative to trying to program a solution using DCOM, minimizing possible plant downtime.

“Our entire DES project was severely delayed and in jeopardy of failure because of multiple OPC connectivity issues. OPC Expert ended up saving the day. Every conceivable OPC connection issue was easily solved by OPC Expert so the project was a huge success, saving the client millions of dollars a year in reduced costs,” Thomas said.

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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