The industrial Internet is about connecting machines with people and services. It is about harnessing big data, analyzing that data and turning it into actionable information. It is about optimizing the plant and production process and about making equipment and service smarter. And, it is about improving collaboration to enhance the expertise of the people who operate, maintain and manage it.
The digital power plant embodies the industrial Internet to achieve those objectives. It has five main qualities:
- Continuously learns from the past to improve efficiency
- Has a technology foundation that evolves, never becoming obsolete
- Allows continuous and flexible DCS upgrades
- Lives longer and healthier, thanks to intelligent predictive maintenance
- Is aware of its operating status, all the time
- Knows its operating limits and capabilities
- Asks for maintenance at the correct time
- Does more with less - in operations and maintenance
- Knows how much energy it needs to produce to meet market commitments
- Manages resources optimally in relation to operating status, weather and market constraints
- Knows when equipment has developed a fault and when it requires repair
- Safe for people, the local community and the environment
- Conscious of its environmental impact, always minimizes emissions
- Safe for employees
- Cyber secure
- Flexible in relation to market requests
- Anticipates market requests by forecasting external conditions
- Open and responsive to owner and grid requirements
- Can operate within a virtual power pool of renewable and conventional plants
The digital power plant of the future is based on a common, open-source platform to facilitate collaboration between people and partners. A broad, open and inclusive ecosystem delivers massive benefits to customers, compared to narrow, closed and exclusive proprietary systems.
Closing the loop
The digital power plant of the future closes the loop between data and action.
It is not enough to simply collect and analyze system data; the data have to be turned into actionable information to improve plant performance. Only by closing the loop with an action is value created.
Closing the loop does not only apply to devices and machines, it applies to people and service as well. Bringing them together - people, plant and production process - unlocks new opportunities to reduce downtime, improve energy and equipment efficiency, lower maintenance effort and improve productivity.
The digital power plant of the future is built on collaboration - within the plant, fleet, and company, and with valued partners and suppliers.
Our collaborative operations center for power generation delivers those benefits. It connects the plant and fleet with company headquarters and us, enabling people to work together and improve plant performance.
Through a high-speed, cyber-secure connection to the plant’s distributed control system, the center continuously retrieves and analyzes plant performance data, monitors key performance indicators, delivers actionable information for plant personnel and management, and - when needed - provides deep domain expertise from us within minutes.
Fog, cloud and intercloud
The digital power plant of the future uses the 'fog,' cloud and intercloud, together.
Mission-critical automation systems like the DCS and enterprise software systems are traditionally housed on-site, in what is called ‘fog computing.’ New digital solutions will increasingly feature functionality at the fog and cloud level, allowing data and functionalities to migrate from one to the other. This creates increased flexibility in deployment models based on customer preference.
No single IoT platform will provide all the capabilities that customers need. Instead, there will be an ‘intercloud’ of applications that interoperate across multiple IoT platforms.
Enabler technology and expertise
While others are only recently discovering the value of digital, we have long been experts in integrating digital components into our customers’ control systems. These include sensors, software, digital networks and, now, the power of the Industrial Internet of Things.
To learn more about our complete and fully integrated electrical and automation solutions for power plants, access this link.
The article was written by Marco Sanguineti, the Global Technology Manager for ABB’s Power Generation & Water business. Marco has a Master's degree in Electronic and ICT Engineering. The full version of the article can be accessed here.