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Advantech’s E&E M2I SRP provides a seamless edge-to-cloud integration solution for heavy electrical equipment

Date: 1/11/2018 12:00:00 AM

Introduction 

Stand-alone power generator sets are not only essential equipment for backup power supplies,, but they are also a major power source for locations where where grid demand tends to be relatively low. For both backup and front-line power generation units, a key to ensuring that they provide a regular power supply is scheduled maintenance. To overcome the shortcomings of traditionally manual inspection and fault repair of heavy electrical equipment, the introduction of networking capability can provide an opportunity to develop a more comprehensive and dynamic preventive maintenance strategy by allowing for the real-time monitoring of equipment. This can significantly reduce maintenance costs while also extending the life span of equipment.

However, because network connectivity was understandably not a consideration in the design of conventional heavy electrical equipment, upgrading equipment and integrating it with a cloud platform may require many additional software and hardware products. This can subsequently extend the implementation period, largely due to efforts aimed at solving compatibility issues between products made by different manufacturers, and it can also increase the difficulty of future system maintenance and management because of the complexity of the new system architecture.

Advantech’s M2I SRP is a lite equipment networking solution that overcomes these problems. It allows the easy upgrade of power generators in giving them networking capability and requires only an ECU-1152 industrial communication gateway. It also makes integration with a cloud platform seamless with WebAccess/TagLink, which is smart protocol conversion software that comes preinstalled with the unit. Thus, the solution not only simplifies the system architecture but also accelerates the establishment of remote management systems.

System Requirements

A new energy and power system solution provider in China has a reputation of providing a variety of innovative products to its domestic and foreign customers. These products are widely used in various fields, including industrial, energy, railway, telecommunications, marine, chemical, mining, water conservation, construction, and agricultural sectors. The company is also the largest provider of gas turbines and fuel generators in the Pearl River Delta region and Southern China. To manage sold and rented products more efficiently, the company plans to introduce a system that can remotely monitor the status of power generators to enable the central management of heavy electrical equipment in multiple provinces. This is also expected to facilitate maintenance and repair operations through the long-term tracking of equipment operation, which is anticipated to reduce unnecessary costs. Moreover, the company is seeking to implement a more definitive maintenance strategy on the basis of big data analysis findings in order to extend the life span of power generator sets and reduce equipment downtime for maintenance.

The company has decided to introduce a new system for a livestock group that rents hundreds of diesel generators. For this, the company expects to purchase a ready-made equipment networking solution to speed up system implementation. In addition to being able to receive data from diesel generator controllers, the solution is expected to be able to connect seamlessly to an upper-level cloud platform. To achieve this, the solution needs to meet the following conditions:

  • Compact hardware that could be installed in an electromechanical cabinet that has limited space l
  • Hardware capable of operating in a wide range of temperatures such as in outdoor livestock environments 
  • Serial ports for connecting diesel generator controllers and GPS modules
  • Support for various wireless communication options in order to meet various connection requirements
  • MQTT protocol support for remote monitoring 
  • Provide a mechanism that ensures data accuracy in the event of a wireless network disconnection, device failure, or other issues

System Description

Advantech’s ECU-1152 E&E M2I SRP is an industrial communications gateway that is equipped with the smart protocol conversion software WebAccess/TagLink, which integrates data collection, protocol conversion, and wireless communication, and can link to the company’s diesel generator controllers via RS-485. With WebAccess/TagLink, which come built in, data such as voltage, current, power consumption, water temperature, and oil pressure data (as well as more than 20 other types of generator data) can be converted for transmission via MQTT to a third-party cloud platform through a 4G network. This means that the company would not need to purchase a high number of hardware and software products or use complex programming for system implementation; instead, a smart wireless gateway can be utilized to network and remotely monitor the power generators.

The ECU-1152 is an industrial communications gateway with a compact, rugged design and ruggedness. Because it does not require additional components for heat dissipation, this high-performance, low-power RISC-based processor is extremely compact. DIN rails can be used to conveniently mount the device in an electromechanical cabinet to save space and simplify device management. The wide operating temperature range (-40~70°C) also ensures stable operation in harsh outdoor environments. Two Ethernet ports and four RS-232/RS-485 isolated serial ports are available for external connections, and a mini-PCIe slot allows users or system integrators to expand wireless communication modules according to application requirements. The excellent anti-jamming capability makes the device particularly suitable for new energy, electricity, and factory applications as well as environments where noise levels are high.

WebAccess/TagLink is intermediary edge-to-cloud software that supports a variety of communication protocols, including Modbus, DNP3, RESTful, MQTT, and IEC 60870-5-104. Thus, it can easily connect to various low-level devices, such as controllers and mainstream PLCs, and high-level IT management systems or cloud platform. In addition to performing protocol conversion, the software also supports transmission restoration. When the signal is lost, the software temporarily stores the data in the ECU-1152’s onboard SD card for upload once communication is restored, thus ensuring that critical data are not lost. In the event of an abnormality with the network, mini-PCIe communication module, or gateway, the software has an automatic debugging mechanism for troubleshooting by redialing, restarting the module, or rebooting the system.

System Diagram

Conclusion

At this time of growing ubiquity in IoT connectivity, equipment networking is the leading solution for implementing smart applications. Heavy electrical equipment used in factories, commercial buildings, hospitals, stores, and other settings are invariably following this trend. Advantech E&E M2I is an application-ready solution integrating both software and hardware. By enabling the easy configuration of required functions, users can complete the equipment networking and remote management in a short time. The new energy and power system solution provider is very satisfied with Advantech’s solution, particularly for its convenience, and th company has decided to introduce the ECU-1152 with built-in WebAccess/TagLink in other power generator sets add value to their products.