Simulating analog

Is it possible to use digital tools to simulate an analog environment?

12/10/2010


Dear Control Engineering: I was reading a story about a new simulator at a nuclear power plant. The photo included with the article shows an old-style analog control room. Is that still operating? How do you build a simulator for that?

The article you mention from November 16, discusses how Omaha Public Power District is updating the simulator at its Fort Calhoun nuclear plant. The photo with the story is not dated, but looks like it could go back to 1970. According to the folks at L-3 Mapps, who will be providing the simulator, that photo is about two years old, and is not an actual control room, but the simulator. Nuclear power plants typically built a duplicate control room to use for training. The photo is included here again, cropped a little tighter and larger so you can see more detail.

An analog power plant simulator.The control room of the plant reportedly does still look like that, so the simulator retains its accuracy. This brings up some interesting thoughts on implementing such a project. If you’re dealing with more modern digital control architecture with computer driven HMIs, it isn’t all that difficult to create a platform that looks just like the real thing. You can use all the same graphics to retain the look and feel. However, if you’re creating a simulator that has to drive analog meters, chart recorders, and panel annunciators as output devices, it’s a bit more complicated. Your system has to generate whatever kind of signal is required to get that device to display the correct values. That requires some interesting I/O capabilities. It’s sort of like having to build a robotic horse to pull an old wagon rather than simply replacing it with a truck.

Many of the devices that were common 30 or 40 years ago when these plants were being designed and built aren’t so easy to get any more. However, some companies continue to build specialty items that these legacy nuke plants depend on. For example, Invensys Operations Management recently announced a partnership with Curtiss-Wright Flow Controls to continue manufacturing the old Foxboro SPEC200N line of analog control system equipment. These products date back to 1976 but are still working in many power plants.

That’s not to say that all nuke plants are museum pieces. Many have updated their automation and control infrastructure, however there are many differences from location to location. Analog is still alive and well in many.

--Peter Welander, pwelander@cfemedia.com



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
Safety standards and electrical test instruments; Product of the Year winners; Easy and safe electrical design
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
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
Automation modernization; Predictive analytics enable open connectivity; System integration success; Automation turns home brewer into brew house
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
Compressed air plays a vital role in most manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a wide variety of operations.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me