- By Dave Hellyer & Rodrigo Borges
- April 19, 2022
Digitalization is essential for utilities facing growing demands and new competitors to improve efficiency flexibility and enhance their ability to react quickly to technological changes.
Achieving efficient, reliable and sustainable electric power supply requires the power industry to deploy digitalization technologies for society’s economic vitality and well-being. Spin Eng (Spin) has learned many lessons serving the generation, transmission, and distribution (GTD) electric community, creating software, collaborating with companies helping it in its digital transformation since 1992. Spin has accelerated its responsiveness to delivering solutions by standardizing on a solid software platform, empowering its subject matter experts to focus their electrical expertise on applications development.
Spin has developed a great deal of knowledge and know-how with responsive offerings for power management software solutions to manage and optimize a wide range of demanding electric power. The software must address traditional and new requirements with functions including digital hub functionality, data analytics, business intelligence, environmental, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and integrating different systems with ease. Digitalization solutions include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), ADMS/FLISR (fault location isolation service restoration), renewed energy management, Industrial Internet of Things (IioT) gateways, microgrid management, control, distributed energy resource management system (DERMS), condition-based asset management, data analytics, and the like.
Digitalization enables utility competitiveness
Digitalization is essential for utilities facing growing demands and new competitors to improve efficiency flexibility and enhance their ability to react quickly to technological changes. The systems used in many companies to manage their processes result from decades of quick fixes, often poorly documented, and needing to be improved or replaced. For example, transmission and distribution utilities face difficulties launching smart grid solutions (smart meters) or integrating intermittent energy sources, such as renewables, if linked to legacy or outdated systems. Digitalization also dramatically improves the common utility industry challenge of effectively and efficiently communicating in real time with stakeholders, including the information technology (IT) department and executive board. Deploying flexible digital technologies keeps organizations ahead of competitors and improves financial health.
Core competency focus
Quickly and effectively satisfying ever-changing utility industry digitalization requirements, Spin electric utility subject matter experts (SMEs) focus on creating and adding application-specific energy software building on top of the brand labeled “Tatsoft’s FactoryStudio” software platform. This platform enables Spin Eng SMEs to develop solutions for new customer requirements with unique features and high quality. Spin’s engineering team automatically receives Tatsoft new features and updates on an ongoing basis, enhancing product functionality and simplifying software support. Spin developed its first SCADA in 1994 and was considering rewriting its solution in a new environment when it found Tatsoft’s FactoryStudio, enabling them to deliver feature-rich high-quality products to market faster.
Spin has partnered with Tatsoft since 2011 and built a product called “Action.NET,” oriented to the electrical market with solutions for GTD automation, microgrids management, ADMS/FLISR, electrical modules, and electrical protocols, among several solutions. When this partnership started, Tatsoft and Spin spent nearly one year adapting the FactoryStudio platform to energy solutions, creating new attributes and concepts, developing the communication drivers used in this vertical, standard reports, and so on.
Open platform advantage
FrameworX by Tatsoft is an open and extensible platform enabling users to create standardized, reusable, industrial applications, maximizing return on engineering, shortening project times, reducing risk, and reducing the total cost of ownership. The platform provides scalability, redundancy, and services creating a robust industrial operating system. The platform inherently supports digitalization by managing and bringing together different data sources to deliver meaningful and valuable information.
The architecture of FrameworX provides Spin with the ability to tailor offerings to customers to create custom symbols and components that encapsulated their intellectual property gained with more than 30 years in the electric utility industry. Tatsoft’s communication driver toolkit has provided the flexibility to create electric utility-specific real-time drivers, including IEC-61850, DNP 30, IEC-60870-5-104/101, and ICCP-TASE2. Using FrameworX because it is a open, robust, and flexible software gives Spin the ability to deliver an intrinsically secure supervisory control product built on the latest digitalization technology.
The Tatsoft technical team has become a collaborative resource assisting Spin to customize FactoryStudio to create Action.NET, an environment to develop electric applications satisfying customers’ specific product requirements. The collaborative development process includes brainstorming sessions, exchanging ideas, and exploring the standard FrameworX functionality and the product’s capability to be easily customized in many different ways, including:
- Custom symbols and complex reusable components.
- Auto-creation of tags, alarms, device points, historian and graphics.
- A software framework to enable their real-time industry-specific analytics.
- Driver toolkit to develop new protocols for their product.
Spin also takes advantage of all of the built-in standard functionalities native to FrameworX. These advanced functionalities provide their product leading capability and require no further development, such as:
- Mobile and HTML5 displays.
- Integrated high-performance databases like Canary, OSIsoft PI System, and all relational databases.
- Integrates built-in libraries oriented to electrical market like OpenDSS.
- Built-In robust project management and audit trails.
- Security and high availability.
Lean automation components
FrameworX enables Spin to increase development efficiency and time-to-market, creating reusable components for various applications. Spin can structure design and programming systems directed to market solutions like the “Wind Power” component that generates an application to monitor wind farms using different wind turbines. The component can be versioned considering new wind turbine models.
A Lean Automation library (shorturl.at/xILSV) of symbols is created for each type of application. Thus, symbols for each wind turbine, wind farm, or complex are created and placed in the library.
A Lean automation (LA) application cell is called a component. As shown in Figure 1, the application’s design adds components that generate a wind farm monitoring solution with a few clicks.
After the previous experience in wind generation and the technologies involved (more than 1 GW), SPIN deployed a solution for the post-operative analysis of wind farms considering availability, turbine comparison, production, wind analysis, electric assets, maintenance, turbine performance, and other important factors (Figure 2).
Using the Action.NET environment, Spin created a DERMS solution for managing microgrids with an algorithm to optimize the objective function to be achieved. The solution allows the following:
- Model any microgrid using the EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) OpenDSS electric power distribution system simulator library.
- Automatically import the model into Action.NET-oriented SCADA microgrid solutions.
- Automatically generate the imported model database and screens with the single-line and general and detail screens of the devices that make up the microgrid (generators, battery banks, solar plants, etc.).
- Enter the restrictive functions of the imported model, such as voltages limits, maximum current, maximum demand, energy price, etc.
- In the studies module, do all the microgrid simulations, both in “Snapshot” and “Daily” mode.
- In real-time mode, simulate the system’s behavior with simulated data similar to real ones (Figure 3).
- After evaluating the system, run with real-time data from the field and let the system optimize the defined objective function in real microgrid management situations.
The optimization algorithm must be adapted depending on the microgrid model and its characteristic functions. After the model tests, we have a system that automatically controls that model in different clients.
Availability: This application also contributes to high availability. It is essential to deal with eventual communications failures with the central computer in energy applications. Hence, data from several weeks can be stored at gateways and sent when the communication is re-established. In case of failure at the IEDs or sensor this application controls, the gateway software has routines that help identify and report the loss.
Futureproofing: Spin Eng has accelerated its responsiveness to delivering digitalization solutions by standardizing on a solid software platform empowering the company’s subject matter experts to focus their expertise in applications development successfully contributing to efficient, reliable, and sustainable electric power supply.
New features: For 2022, new features are available for the energy market:
- IEC 61850 dynamic tag provider. IEC 61850 is an international standard defining communication protocols for intelligent electronic devices at electrical substations. With the tag provider feature, any IED communicating with this protocol will be able to automatically send all/part of its information to the SCADA local or remote in one line declaration without the need for tag mapping.
- Dynamic interfaces. Applications for the energy market will count on interfaces automatically updated after changes in the field. This will reduce mistakes and fasten operation upgrade processes.
- Solutions on the cloud and IIoT gateways use the tag provider concept to reduce the onboarding time of a new customer or new sites.
Power industry challenge
The International Energy Agency (IEA) edition of the IEA’s semi-annual Electricity Market Report released July, 2021 estimates global electricity demand to grow driven by the global economic recovery. Deploying digital technologies to manage traditional and alternative electric power generation is essential to achieve efficient, reliable and sustainable electric power supply for society’s economic vitality and well-being.
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