Control System Integration Solution to Extend the Speedtronic™ Lifecycle

Presented by Craig C Corzine, CSE Engineering Inc.

Corzine founded CSE Engineering in 1993 to provide customized gas-, steam-, and hydro-turbine control system solutions tailored to meet customer-specific needs, requirements, and equipment. The company’s two decades of success testifies to its ability to remain true to the stated mission.

Corzine began by reviewing the following five generally well-accepted reasons for upgrading, rather than replacing, controls:

1. Technology obsolescence. He stressed, “Because a technology is old, it does not necessarily mean its functionality is obsolete and must be replaced.” With the Speedtronic Mark VI turbine control system well into its lifespan, and support for aging Mark V systems now being shifted away from the OEM to aftermarket support, Corzine said, some owners of the Mark V and older Mark VI controllers may feel pressure to upgrade their system in order to achieve better plant integration and monitoring. However, given that the preceding generation, the MK IV, has not yet concluded its service the question of ‘Why?’ invariably comes up.

“Most Mark Vs are good, reliable control systems; however, their interfaces, be they <I> or HMI, have not aged well and many owner/operators worry about the continued health of these consumer-grade systems, and they are disappointed in their lack of integration with modern controls architectures. This, combined with the OEM’s ‘Well then buy a Mark VIe’ approach to issues with the <I> and HMI interfaces, might tempt many owners to start looking at that upgrade. But the hefty price tag associated with replacing all of the working controls hardware just to achieve a new interface begs the question, ‘Is there a simpler way?’”

Corzine said the Mark V does have a data network that the original user-interface computers employed, called Stagelink, which was designed to use the ARCNET transport. While ARCNET is considered obsolete, it is not yet antiquated; support hardware and controllers still are being manufactured for both media conversion and modern computer interface. It is with this, and with extensive knowledge of the Stagelink protocol, that CSE Engineering designed a replacement interface for the Mark IV, V, VI, and VIe turbine control systems—called <ITC>®—now operating in more than a hundred installations worldwide.

<ITC> has its own historical logging for trends and timelines, and discrete series-of-events for engine troubleshooting, Corzine added. Plus, <ITC> can integrate its HMI and historical functions to a variety of other controls devices using their native languages—including Siemens PLC and PCS7; Allen Bradley ControlLogix, PLC5, and SLC 500; Modicon, GE Fanuc, Foxboro, Bailey, and others, to provide a singular overall plant picture in both interface and logging.

Continuing, the controls expert said <ITC> offers options for system redundancy for most controls communications—including Mark V Stagelink. The unexpected loss of an <ITC> station need not interrupt production: The backup system immediately assumes controls communications responsibilities and system data dissemination.

Finally, Corzine said, “<ITC> provides remote access options via web server, so your engine or plant interface can be where you need it to be. Whether your application calls for a data gateway from a Speedtronic to another system, a dedicated Speedtronic historical logger with true series-of-events capability, a new Speedtronic HMI, or an overall plant interface with remote access, <ITC> has a solution to keep your Mark IV, V, VI, and VIe in service and enhance its integration with controls and monitoring equipment.”

2. Lack of OEM-provided spare parts. Not an issue: There are plenty of spares available through new/used/surplus third-party suppliers and eBay, as well as from industry colleagues who have upgraded or replaced controls at their plants.

3. Lack of OEM product-specific support. Also not an issue: Many third-party services firms can provide excellent technical support for virtually all of the OEM’s product lines.

4. Lack of integration capabilities. Not true. There are third-party integration solutions available, the differences among them being how the integration is performed.

5. Less expensive than buying new, no disruption to facility operations with possible loss of revenue, etc.

The speaker wrapped up his presentation with a review of how control-system communication has evolved over the years, using a series of meaningful diagrams—each accompanied by a list of the pros (in one case there were none) and cons for that arrangement. These illustrations would be of value to anyone making an in-house evaluation of what his or her plant has in the way of controls capabilities and what aspects are lacking in terms of today’s commercial and regulatory requirements. Registered 7F owner/operators wanting to dig deeper can access this material in the secure user-only section of

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