Embedded design for substation automation

Moxa chose Intel CPUs for its monitoring and control solution for power substations, so energy customers get a large number of local area network (LAN) and serial ports, and can run pre-installed operating systems, like Linux, Windows WinCE 6.0, or XP Embedded.

10/29/2009


As power substations transition from analog to digital communications, they need integrated communications and control systems for managing various equipment, and a high level of I/O capacity and flexibility within their communications infrastructure. Moxa engineers took their experience with industrial serial communication and combined it with Intel's CPU technology to build an "industrial off-the-shelf" computer system that stands up to the extreme environmental conditions of the power substation.

Utility operators are looking for reliable monitoring solutions that perform many control functions in a single, secure box. "Instead of dedicated communication units, some power substations still use separate control units with proprietary, non-integrated data acquisition, analysis and handling mechanisms," says Moxa European business development manager Hermann Berg. "These aging units can be highly susceptible to frequent communication shutdowns, complicated maintenance procedures and may not maintain stable and reliable operations."

Moxa wanted to build a platform for substation automation that could handle a large number of local area network (LAN) and serial ports while withstanding high temperatures in a fanless, 1U standard rack-mount form factor. "We also had to meet rigorous electromagnetic compatible (EMC) testing requirements for IEC 61850-3, a specification governing communication networks and systems in substations," says Berg. The result was an IEC 61850-3-certified, 18-port, embedded computer designed to service the communications traffic generated by as many as six Ethernet ports and 12 RS-232/ RS-485 ports.

The Moxa design team chose Intel's mobile product line to power its new rack-mount embedded computer because it offers high levels of computing performance while enabling a fanless solution. "With Intel processors, our energy customers have the computing headroom to run pre-installed operating systems, like Linux, Windows WinCE 6.0, or XP Embedded, in addition to executing many protocol stacks, protocol conversion routines and data pre-processing algorithms needed to monitor and control power systems," says Mark Liu of Moxa.

The new power substation automation system, dubbed the DA-681, has some additional design features to address power and heat concerns. "Our purpose-built L-type heatsink takes heat to the side rather than the top or bottom [in this] this stackable computer," says Berg. To further decrease power consumption, the DA-681 also automatically throttles back (reduces) the operating frequency of the processor, if the system runs hot, through the use of Moxa-designed BIOS features.

Moxa also added an environment for developing application software: a ready-to-run software platform based on energy-industry standards "with easy-to-use serial communication technology to significantly reduce system development effort and time," says Liu. "This is particularly helpful for power automation system integrators, as they no longer need to develop the network from the basic hardware layer."

Intel's development environment and processor road map helped Moxa speed new product development by an estimated 30 percent, says Lui. Benefits of using Intel architecture processors are:

• The processor's low-power consumption supports a high working temperature.
• The visibility and availability of Intel processors and chipsets with long life cycle support permit
Moxa to offer a five-year standard product warranty and to "support installations around the world for as long as customers need it."
• The use of Intel architecture processors in Moxa's modular DA-681 and DA-682 (2U rack-mount) units also allows utility operators to swap out modules as needed.

- Edited by Renee Robbins, senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk

 





No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
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.
Learn how to create value with re-use; gain productivity with lean automation and connectivity, and optimize panel design and construction.
Go deep: Automation tackles offshore oil challenges; Ethernet advice; Wireless robotics; Product exclusives; Digital edition exclusives
Lost in the gray scale? How to get effective HMIs; Best practices: Integrate old and new wireless systems; Smart software, networks; Service provider certifications
Fixing PID: Part 2: Tweaking controller strategy; Machine safety networks; Salary survey and career advice; Smart I/O architecture; Product exclusives
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Look at the basics of industrial wireless technologies, wireless concepts, wireless standards, and wireless best practices with Daniel E. Capano of Diversified Technical Services Inc.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.

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

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.