What’s new about Siemens SPPA-T3000 Release 7.2

The on-going transformation of powerplant control systems into a full-fledged knowledge, communications, and decision-support platform was clearly evident at the 2015 T3000 Users Group meeting, June 9-11, in Alpharetta, Ga. On display was Release 7.2, scheduled to wrap up pilot testing this month at a combined-cycle plant in Florida.

Firas Khalil, from Siemens’ US R&D Center, summarized the objectives of Release 7.2 using these bullet points:

      • Operator effectiveness.

      • Integrated alarm management.

      • Integrated applications.

      • New look and feel.

Alarm management has been a bone of contention among users of all control systems for at least 10 years. DCS designers found it easy to add alarms and did so in spades, only to confuse and distract operators from the most important ones. First, operators tuned them out. Then they turned the nuisance ones off (predominantly the ones related to the I&C system itself). Finally, plant engineers went in and reconfigured them.

Release 7.2 incorporates new alarm classes: Trip Stop (TS), Trip Warning (TW), and Diagnostic Recommended (DR). Alarms are shown in context. Individual alarms are presented with the numbers of raised, unacknowledged, and pending alarms and one click leads to the relevant group of plant and operator displays.

The DR class of alarm messages is associated with model-based condition monitoring of the components most critical to availability. Unexpected deviations are indicated before alarm-limit values are reached. Then, again with one click, the operator can find advanced diagnostics for a more in-depth analysis and explanation—greater “intelligence,” in other words, surrounding the problem. This, so-called, Plant Monitor is integrated in SPPA-T3000 and part of the new Release 7.2 Applications bundle.

For minor incidents, the operator can address a problem and then enter the activity into the online shift log. A “shift book” feature is intended to replace or supplement the hard-copy shift log book. The shift handover can also be managed electronically. Open tasks can be loaded via one-click for the following shift. Once captured, of course, plant documentation can be made available to anyone with authority to view it through secure communications pathways.

Thus, the SPPA-T3000 integrates control, diagnostics, actions, and documentation into a single digital platform. The five basic displays are plant overview, alarm sequence display with open alarms, shift schedule with resources, pending “repairs”, and open tasks. Whereas even five years ago, many plants would have separate maintenance management, alarm management, and model-based condition monitoring and analytics software packages (islands of automation), the SPPA-T3000, like other control systems, integrates this functionality into one platform.

However, it is important for users to understand, and as Khalil explained, that the TS, TW, and DR functionality has to be engineered into the system; it doesn’t just magically appear. For example, the alarm-management package, including the replicated archive, can be purchased separately and plants need to ensure that they have the correct instrumentation onsite to inform the diagnostics. And Siemens has a separate product, called the CM500, which links to the SPPA-T3000.

The improved HMI (human machine interface) includes scroll-down access bars on the left and right sides of the screen for links to other applications (Siemens, as well as third-party, or any HTML-accessible app) most relevant to the operator’s everyday responsibilities. Key performance indicators (KPI), such as output, emissions, heat rate, and others can be customized to suit each plant. A “Health” display, an overview status of components on one side, and detailed view on the other side, is available as well.

On the connectivity side, Release 7.2 includes enhanced HART functionality, advanced turbine control, and the next evolution of the Ovation migration strategy, and features further improved compatibility with Allen Bradley programmable logical controllers (PLC). Siemens is also deploying the built-in capability for plant performance monitoring and fleet performance monitoring.

Upgrading from previous versions of SPPA-T3000 also will include an upgrade of the Windows operating system.

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