Embedded database for SCADA adds safety, efficiency to nuclear waste processing

McObject database technology helps BISMARC operator interface and SCADA at the Smolensk nuclear waste installation. Baltic Information Systems (BIS), a Lithuanian company founded to provide safety-related IT systems for nuclear power plants, has developed a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) product called BISMARC that relies on the McObject eXtremeDB In-Memory Database System (IMDS).


Baltic Information Systems (BIS), a Lithuanian company founded to provide safety-related IT systems for nuclear power plants, has developed a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) product called BISMARC that relies on the McObject eXtremeDB In-Memory Database System (IMDS). A major BISMARC deployment at the Smolensk Nuclear Power Plant in Russia illustrates the data management challenges posed by real-time, safety-critical industrial control, as well as key benefits of integrating McObject’s eXtremeDB embedded database technology.

McObject provides this illustration to Control Engineering to show the BISMARC operator interface at the Smolensk installation; see more information at www.mcobject.com/january5/2011.These benefits include shorter time-to-market: BIS saved six programmer-months by using eXtremeDB rather than internally developed data management code, and gained the reliability of a proven, off-the-shelf database, a BIS senior software engineer estimated. By embedding eXtremeDB, BISMARC also gained a level of responsiveness that is demanded by real-time safety-critical processes, but is impossible to attain using a traditional on-disk, client/server, and/or SQL relational database management system, the engineer said.

The Smolensk facility – generator of some 20 billion KW hours annually, or 1/7 of Russia’s nuclear energy output – uses BISMARC to ensure safety and efficiency in nuclear waste disposal. For this deployment, engineers configured BISMARC’s distributed, redundant client/server architecture into two operator nodes and one administrator node, running on Debian Linux and off-the-shelf x86 hardware. The nodes – and their embedded eXtremeDB in-memory databases – receive a constant flow of information from the programmable logic controller (the RTP 2500 PLC from RTP Corp.) that controls nuclear waste disposal equipment.

On each node, eXtremeDB serves as a classic SCADA “tag database,” managing some 10,000 tags, or data points, that each represents an atomic unit of information such as a single input or output value. About 2,000 of the points describe the actual manufacturing process; others are system-reserved (for example, showing BISMARC’s current CPU usage). Other tags support special functions such as alarms. While the Smolensk plant uses BISMARC primarily for monitoring, the system enables operators to respond to alarms (configurable as blinking lights, sirens, etc.) by overriding the PLC and controlling machinery directly.

Performance was a key consideration in choosing an off-the-shelf database system for BISMARC. For example, the tag database used at Smolensk for nuclear waste processing is updated three times per second, and BISMARC guarantees a response time of one second or less. Actual response time is on the order of 100 milliseconds or less, BIS Senior Software Engineer Aleksej Penkov said.

The Smolensk BISMARC deployment actually uses two database management systems: the eXtremeDB IMDS to support real-time, embedded processes, and an external PostgreSQL relational DBMS for archiving and provisioning. Most tags consist of both static and dynamic (real-time) attributes. The static characteristics are stored in PostgreSQL and can be used to populate the eXtremeDB databases in the event of system shutdown and restart. eXtremeDB manages real-time attributes, updating them as new data arrives from the PLC, and periodically flushing this information to PostgreSQL.

“Features of the eXtremeDB database, including its in-memory architecture, native C/C++ interface and highly efficient indexing, are critical in delivering the performance BISMARC demands in its tag database,” Penkov said. “This level of responsiveness is not attainable with a traditional relational DBMS that stores all data to disk and requires use of the high-level SQL database interface. We were pleased to discover eXtremeDB and its highly optimized features.”

Before selecting McObject’s database, the BIS team considered writing data management code in-house. Disadvantages of this approach included increased time-to-market, and the extensive debugging and QA inherent in a ‘homegrown’ database system. BIS likely saved six months of development time by opting for eXtremeDB, and benefits from McObject’s ongoing support of the product, Penkov said.

Other key eXtremeDB features for BISMARC included its support for multiple data types, which enable a highly efficient data design, and its portability. While BISMARC’s Linux support meets the need of most European nuclear power producers, BIS may one day wish to support additional embedded platforms, or offer a 64-bit edition. eXtremeDB runs on platforms including all major server and real-time operating systems (RTOSs), and can even run without an OS in "bare bones boards" configurations. To simplify porting, its design minimizes reliance on OS-specific features.

“Many applications, particularly in fields such as real-time industrial control and safety-critical systems, cannot tolerate the latency inherent in traditional DBMSs. eXtremeDB was designed precisely to deliver the speed and predictability needed for control systems, and the product is enjoying increased adoption in applications for energy producers. We’re pleased that eXtremeDB is playing a key role in enabling BIS to meet its customers’ needs,” said Steve Graves, McObject CEO and co-founder.

About Baltic Information Systems

Baltic Information Systems is focused on development of safety-related IT systems for nuclear power plants. Since 2000, BIS has led innovative projects in this field, typically in Lithuania (where it is based), the EU, and former Soviet Union. Its BISMARC process control and monitoring SCADA system may be configured to most plant monitoring tasks.


About McObject

Founded by embedded database and real-time systems experts, McObject offers data management technology that makes applications and devices smarter, more reliable and more cost-effective to develop and maintain. McObject counts among its customers industry leaders such BAE Systems, Siemens, Phillips, EADS, JVC, Tyco Thermal Controls, F5 Networks, CA, Motorola and Boeing. McObject is based in Issaquah, WA.


McObject provides this illustration showing the BISMARC operator interface at the Smolensk installation with more information at www.mcobject.com/january5/2011.

- Edited by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com









Ted Kenney

Marketing Director


22525 SE 64th Pl., Suite 302

Issaquah, WA USA 98027

Ph. 425 888-8505, ext. 213



Anonymous , 02/26/13 07:16 AM:

SCADA systems provide communication and control data in real time to obtain highperformance that help you to make decisions. We are able to obtain data, control it and integrate all the necessary information for the operation and supervision and make it available to everyone within the organization and for external systems. The IDbox system (http://www.IDbox.es) is one example to integrated business platform capable of obtaining, processing and analyzing data. They are obtained from various sources such as PLCs, recorders, SCADA, ERP, ESBs, files, etc. using UDP protocols and data-diode that ensures a communication cut preventing physical external attacks. Data are sent to users in real time and can be analyzed immediately. The system also provides the users with synoptic schemes, alarms, warnings, calculations, etc., that can be configured and adapted for each industrial plant.
There is a market research that compares various similar information systems used in industrial plants for monitoring, analysis and storage of data.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Big Data and IIoT value; Monitoring Big Data; Robotics safety standards and programming; Learning about PID
Motor specification guidelines; Understanding multivariable control; Improving a safety instrumented system; 2017 Engineers' Choice Award Winners
Selecting the best controller from several viewpoints; System integrator advice for the IIoT; TSN and real-time Ethernet; Questions to ask when selecting a VFD; Action items for an aging PLC/DCS
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
click me