Mastering the energy transition
Renewable energy has completely upended the landscape of traditional energy technology. Standalone solutions have long run out of steam trying to keep up with controlling processes whose complexity does nothing but increase. A complete solution is needed – a reliable approach that makes it possible to manage complicated systems from a central location.
"There are excellent systems out there being used to monitor and control wind farms, for example," explains Peter Kronberger, global energy technology manager at B&R. Coordination in large plants falters, however, if confronted with solar and biogas equipment at the same time. "Usually, each individual system not only requires its own infrastructure, but also its own monitoring and control architecture," he says.
The solution: APROL
In cases like this, the only remedy is a process control system that is capable of controlling and monitoring entire systems composed of a wide variety of individual components. "B&R's APROL process control system offers a broad range of open interfaces that allow all types of components and systems from many different vendors to be connected," says Kronberger. Whether the sensor, control or SCADA layer, APROL provides support for virtually all conventional protocols to centrally record, store, exchange and analyze data.
Not only the HMI and control applications can be configured centrally in the process control system, but remote controllers and metering stations as well. Version and revision management as well as intelligent update functions are also completely integrated. Project development can take place in teams either on- or offline.
Guaranteed protection from manipulation
Despite this extremely open approach, the system still satisfies all verification requirements, for example when changing operating parameters and providing protection against manipulation. Whether a service engineer making parameter changes from his laptop or the grid operator reducing the plant's power from his control room – each action is registered in the system and stored in a central location by Audit Trail.
APROL meets the strict requirements set forth by the US Food and Drug Administration for the food and pharmaceutical industries. "If it ever becomes necessary to show who was responsible when for which modification, this information is completely secure and available in just a few clicks," says Kronberger.
The one-of-a-kind scalability delivered by APROL also allows the system to be structured in such a way as to prevent any unnecessary costs. For simple tasks, a single industrial PC with preinstalled APROL software is sufficient. "If the project needs to expand, it is able to grow into an enormous multi-server system if needed," says Kronberger. And since the software foundation never changes, functions that have already been developed once can be reused without having to be re-engineered. APROL can be used in applications with 50 physical inputs/outputs as well as in systems with 200,000.
Tailored to the last requirement
Many potential users are scared off by the investment risk and enormous amount of work typically associated with setting up a process control system. This is why B&R offers preconfigured entry-level APROL solutions for typical applications. Preinstalled on a single industrial PC, these solutions can be easily configured using spreadsheets. In addition, investment costs are quickly recouped thanks to the ease of implementing condition or energy monitoring.
APROL EnMon is an off-the-shelf solution for measuring and optimizing energy consumption. This is done by measuring the data from every last energy consumer. Any other process data can be collected to identify any undetected interactions that may be taking place. A load management solution is also included. The user interface is so simple to use that it can be adapted to the customer's requirements in just a few clicks. And because it is an out-of-the-box solution, extensive engineering know-how is not necessary. The investment risk is therefore very low. "Expanding the functionality of the system further is no problem whatsoever," Kronberger explains. This is because EnMon is APROL-based technology, which allows the entry-level solution to be expanded and adapted as needed.
The same is true of APROL ConMon, the condition monitoring solution from APROL. By optimizing a plant's maintenance strategies, it is possible to kill two birds with one stone: increasing product quality and machine/system availability while significantly reducing maintenance costs.
APROL is not just for operators of plants involved with renewable energy, however. As we make the transition to more renewable energy sources, grid operators also require a system that can provide reliable monitoring and control functions to safely and securely operate their networks. APROL meets all of the requirements of a high-availability system, making it the perfect choice for tasks such as these.