Displaying items by tag: COPADATA

Thursday, 07 September 2023 10:48

COPA-DATA attends Machine Building Live

Showcasing operational efficiency with zenon software demos

Industrial automation software developer, COPA-DATA, will be attending Machine Building Live, taking place at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham on 4 October, 2023. Visitors are invited to visit COPA-DATA at booth 64, where the company will be showcasing its cutting-edge zenon software demos, offering a firsthand experience of the platform's multifunctional capabilities.

The zenon software platform is an industrial automation solution designed for machine builders and will be the centrepiece of COPA-DATA’s exhibition. It empowers end users to optimise manufacturing processes, enhance operational efficiency and ensure real-time monitoring and control across industrial machinery. zenon offers advanced HMI/SCADA capabilities, data visualisation, alarms, reporting, and integration with diverse systems, enabling businesses to streamline operations and achieve excellence in industrial processes.

Attendees will have the opportunity to witness live demonstrations that showcase zenon's diverse functions in real-world scenarios across different industries.

zenon software demo highlights

Among demonstrated features is the ability to use zenon for seamless execution of batch production using the platform’s recipe administration feature. Attendees can observe the initiation of a batch through recipe selection, testing, approval and control recipe creation. The process incorporates pH value checks and automatic product filling. COPA-DATA's experts for automation in pharmaceutical and food manufacturing will be at hand to discuss these applications.

COPA-DATA will also demonstrate a simulation of a packaging line. The demo includes dynamic process status colour changes, along with Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) key figure displays. The simulation spans startup, production and rundown phases, providing an immersive experience of the entire process.

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Through a detailed status model derived from the Weihenstephan status model, attendees can gain insights into how zenon could report on the operational status of a filling machine. This demo illustrates recipe management, shadow variables and resource consumption reports.

In addition to these demonstrations, COPA-DATA will also present its pharmaceutical Human Machine Interface (HMI) displays, designed to elevate pharmaceutical manufacturing management. This advanced HMI platform ensures regulatory compliance, operational efficiency and data integrity in the pharmaceutical industry. It offers intuitive visualisation, real-time monitoring, and comprehensive reporting, enabling seamless production management and quality control.

"These demonstrations will offer a glimpse into the operational efficiency that our platform can deliver. Through seamless execution of batch production, dynamic process simulations and detailed operational status reports, we’re showcasing how zenon allows industries to optimise manufacturing processes." said Mohammed Ahmed, Sales Manager at COPA-DATA. "We look forward to sharing insights, discussing challenges, and exploring how our solutions can drive operational excellence."

The diverse showcase caters to the cross-industry abilities of the zenon platform, showing the adaptability and flexibility of the technology. Join booth 64 to learn how COPA-DATA's innovative software solutions can elevate your equipment’s processes.

More information on the zenon demo project can be found at  www.copa-data.com. To attend Machine Building Live, register here.

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Wednesday, 02 August 2023 10:29

Modular working in R&D labs

The automation of laboratories used to be considered very costly and not very flexible, because the workflows are very complex and amounts of data are constantly increasing. Yet, as chemical and pharmaceutical industry product lifecycles become shorter and shorter, the need for digitalization has become urgent. In this article, Christof Franzke, Senior Technical Consultant Key Accounts at COPA-DATA, the industrial software specialist, explains the vital role of the zenon platform in the roll-out of modularization and digitalization in laboratories.

Today’s consumers expect technologies to ‘plug and play’ and work seamlessly with other devices in the home — and the same qualities are required in industrial and manufacturing environments.

Digitalization has become somewhat easier over the years, thanks to the diversity of automated hardware now available. Yet, on the other hand, it is more difficult to achieve seamless and holistic connectivity across multi-vendor, multi-tenanted production sites. One way to achieve this is with an industry standard called Module Type Package (MTP).

Dubbed plug-and-produce manufacturing, MTP is an approach that enables all equipment in a central control system to communicate independently of the typically-fragmented hardware and software usually found in laboratories. Each individual work step is provided by a completed module and researchers in the lab can then combine these modules, quickly and repeatedly, into new applications and processes. What’s more, this can be achieved with just a few clicks and without the need for programming knowledge. Therefore, MTP helps to ease and democratise the whole process.

One company that has successfully implemented the MTP approach is Merck KGaA, a German multinational science and technology company. For the first time, Merck is applying its Industry 4.0, Smart Factory and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) approaches, which are formerly tried-and-tested in production environments, to laboratories.

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Modularised process development

Configuring a laboratory so hardware and software work in tandem is still a challenge to this day, as many labs still rely on closed, unconnected systems. To alleviate this challenge, Merck KGaA set out to make this automation as simple as connecting a printer to a PC.

When selecting system partners for its automation solutions, Merck KGaA attaches the greatest importance to open platforms and the independence of individual applications. For this reason, Merck KGaA and Siemens started a modularization project in 2021 for production facilities that manufacture innovative materials and products in the three business sectors healthcare, life science and electronics.

Independent of this, Merck KGaA has taken a further step with zenon from COPA-DATA. The software, which is designed to facilitate MTP standards and support modular production, was introduced to the research and development laboratories of the Electronics Technology Center at Merck’s global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA and COPA-DATA’s systems enable the use of MTP standards in a higher-level Process Orchestration Layer (POL). This flexible application of modules is accelerating time to market considerably. The result is more efficient interaction between production and research and development (R&D) and accelerate the market launch of new products by up to 50 per cent.

Mass customization

Another growing demand in industry is customized products, and MTP can also support this goal. An important benefit of MTP modules is that data can be transferred seamlessly from the laboratory to production. This means formulas currently being developed in the laboratory can enter mass production immediately, without the need to waste effort on manually reconfiguring the production lines, thus enabling faster mass customization. Moreover, Merck KGaA expects that the boundaries between R&D and production will become increasingly blurred in the future.

Plug-and-produce is becoming an increasingly established method of production in today’s labs. With advanced industrial automation software like zenon, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry can be ready to cater for shorter product lifecycles, and a need for more customized products through the application of modular production.

To learn more about how zenon automation software from COPA-DATA can benefit modular production and mass customisation, visit its website.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently. The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2022, with more than 350 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 69 million.

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Wednesday, 05 October 2022 10:52

COPA-DATA at Smart Production Solutions

The integration of interdisciplinary data: Hall 7, Booth 590

Bringing together interdisciplinary data offers companies great opportunities to find new and efficient solutions that provide answers to developing customer demands. From November 8-10, COPA-DATA will present various cross-disciplinary application examples of the Zenon software platform from production, infrastructure, and laboratory automation at the SPS Trade Fair in Nuremberg in Hall 7, Booth 590.

Increasingly, companies are recognizing the potential that digitalization opens up for them. In order to take full advantage of the opportunities, they face the challenge of using data from more than the localized environment, such as monitoring and controlling production facilities. To make informed decisions, data must be brought together from different sources.

Industry 4.0 is more than automation

"When we talk about Industry 4.0, it is by no means limited to automating individual production plants. Only when we bring together information from different areas and think in interdisciplinary terms does the full potential of the IoT open up to us," says Frank Hägele, Sales Director COPA-DATA Germany. Being cross-industry and cross-manufacturer, the MTP standard supports companies to orchestrate their data from different disciplines without further programming effort. In Zenon 11 from COPA-DATA, MTP is natively integrated at the process orchestration level using Zenon POL. This enables companies to implement modular "Plug & Produce" solutions.

Modularization using Zenon Process Orchestration Layer

At SPS, COPA-DATA will present the application possibilities of Zenon POL to control and orchestrate individual modules in the process industry. The modularization of production is a decisive step in the flexible design of plants. With modular production, complex processes can be divided into many small sections and standardized. Logically interconnected, the individual modules can be combined again and again in new and interdisciplinary ways for a true plug & produce approach. This means that nothing stands in the way of rapid adaptation to customer requirements or the production of small batches.

The zenon software platform makes data from distributed systems available centrally. The Zenon software platform makes data from distributed systems available centrally.

Shortened time-to-market thanks to DCS+

Complementing the portfolio of solutions presented at the COPA-DATA booth at SPS, the Decentralized Control System Zenon DCS+ will also feature. The system is used to manage process plants both in batch and in Conti mode. The "+" in the name stands for the added value of the Zenon solution compared to classic DCS offerings. Process-related components can be organized into very small, decentralized units with Zenon DCS+. This makes it ideal for use with the MTP standard. Additionally, manufacturer independence in terms of hardware components and operating systems results in a reduction of investment cost and in an associated shortened time-to-market.

Using digitalization to your advantage with Zenon

Another application example presented by COPA-DATA at this year's SPS will be the IIoT services of the Zenon software platform. Plants can be networked across locations, processes harmonized, and third-party systems and IoT devices, such as smart energy meters or wearables, integrated with existing systems. With Zenon, the simple and secure integration of third-party components succeeds. Accumulating data can be stored centrally in the cloud in real-time. HMI, BDE and SCADA solutions for control functions guarantee simple operability.

At the same time, users benefit from increased security. To protect against cyber-attacks, Zenon communicates exclusively via certificate-encrypted TLS connections. The trouble-free operation of plants can be guaranteed thanks to integrated data for predictive maintenance.

A "single source of truth" brings sustainable clarity

Collecting interdisciplinary information can provide insights into production processes. It also creates a lever for sustainability initiatives – even while complexity increases. As data from different disciplines flows into a networked "single source of truth", valuable conclusions can be drawn. When production plants digitally record which parts were produced against energy consumption, the results can be broken down to each part and, thus, to the unit price. This valuable information can be used to improve the sustainability of production processes, with the use of resources successively optimized throughout the system.

"In addition to the possibilities for digitalization and the IIoT with Zenon, we will present interdisciplinary approaches from the Infrastructure and Laboratory Automation sectors. Trade fair visitors can also look forward to the presentation of our Zenon DCS+ process control system. We are certain that the future of digitalization is interdisciplinary. With our software-driven, digital approach, we can provide answers today to the challenges of tomorrow," says Frank Hägele, Sales Director COPA-DATA Germany.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently. The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2021, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 64 million.

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It’s estimated that for every kilogram of drug made in the pharmaceutical industry, 100kg of waste is produced. Manufacturing faces the need to become more efficient, flexible, and sustainable, and waste production is one area where industry could improve. Optimising a pharmaceutical production line for waste reduction can improve operational efficiency and provide significant financial savings. Here, Alexandra Hughes, Industry Sales Manager at automation software supplier COPA-DATA UK, explains how pharmaceutical manufacturers can use automation to improve production line processes with sustainability in mind.

The pharmaceutical manufacturing industry generates large amounts of waste from perishable or expired materials, scrapped products, non-compliant materials or by-products. Using data to identify areas for improvement in a pharmaceutical production line can allow manufacturers to drive sustainability in their operations, reduce the risk of scrappage and save time, money and energy.

Pharmaceutical operations are often non-circular, meaning that discarded products or materials frequently are unable to be reused or repurposed. The management process itself even incurs energy and financial costs — chemical or hazardous pharmaceutical waste often needs to be sterilised and transported to specialist facilities for disposal. Appropriate pharmaceutical waste disposal procedures are important for safety and regulatory compliance, but reducing the need for these processes in the first place can improve sustainability.

Issues in product quality can also contribute to waste. Pharmaceuticals should be manufactured in line with good manufacturing practice (GMP). Part of this is conducting in-process monitoring and investigation of any out of specification (OOS) results that come up during the testing process. If a product does not meet the stringent requirements set out by the regulatory bodies, it must be disposed of. Production line issues can also increase material loss. Operations must comply with stringent regulations, and thus any faults or interruptions in production mean that the entire batch must be discarded. This highlights the importance of effective monitoring in manufacturing — interpreting production data to determine areas of risk can help to predict and prevent unplanned downtime.

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Data driven waste reduction

To reduce pharmaceutical waste, manufacturers should also consider production line optimisation to reduce the input of raw materials against the product output. Using a data-driven approach to manufacturing can support this by identifying unseen issues and faults which may accumulate and result in reduced yield. Analysing production data can highlight areas where downtime may occur or where most waste is produced to allow manufacturers to make adjustments and avoid breakdowns, batch scrappage and unnecessary energy consumption.

Using an automation system designed to optimise manufacturing can be a valuable addition to a pharmaceutical operation. COPA-DATA’s zenon platform can gather production data from every step of the process and identify areas where efficiency is lost or where there is potential for failure, allowing manufacturers to perform predictive maintenance.

This can reduce energy costs and make production more efficient and sustainable. It is also fully compliant with local and international regulations and allows manufacturers to combine production with quality control, minimising the risk of OOS batches.

There is also demand for increased flexibility in pharma as the need for precision medicine and novel therapies grows. However, modifying a monolithic production line to produce different therapies or smaller batches can be inefficient.

COPA-DATAs Module Type Package (MTP) can help to address this. It can easily reconfigure existing machinery or production units to create different products or adjust recipes. Modularising production means that different units can be connected for a plug-and-produce solution that offers flexibility and agility, reducing cost and improving efficiency, energy usage and wastage levels.

Waste in the pharmaceutical industry is not only a financial issue but a sustainability one too. Batch scrappage, waste management and disposal all have associated risks and energy costs which are only increased by avoidable production issues. Along with more careful planning, using digitalisation in a pharmaceutical plant to identify wastages can tackle this issue and improve plant flexibility and sustainability.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

www.copadata.com

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The 2021 Global Threat Intelligence Report (GTIR) revealed that there was a 300 per cent increase in cyberattacks during 2020. The growing cyber threat puts energy grids more at risk than ever before, yet some of the cyber security protocols in this sector are often lacking in sophistication. Here, Reinhard Mayr, head of information security and research operations at automation software supplier, COPA-DATA, explains why a secure internet gateway is crucial for industry to combat rising cyber threats.

A secure internet gateway is an essential component when building a safe entry point into a critical infrastructure. It helps to protect OT infrastructure from online threats by filtering internet bound traffic and is therefore embedded in security standards. All security related standards, such as the IEC 62443, the BSI or the NIST SP 800 series, demand access to critical operational technology (OT) infrastructure is secure.

These standards do not only suggest a secure web gateway or connection, but for a company to implement a demilitarized zone (DMZ) for more OT protection. Simply put, a DMZ is a physical or logical component that separates a local area network (LAN) from other untrusted networks, acting as a buffer zone between the public internet and the private network. All inbound network packets are screened using a firewall, or other security appliance, before they arrive at the servers hosted in the DMZ.

Operators require appropriate software to follow these cybersecurity measures — but where do they start?

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Revamping existing systems

A secure internet gateway can be implemented without negatively impacting existing systems, such as human machine interfaces (HMIs) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). This is particularly relevant to users in a brownfield environment, where they need to implement new software to existing — and often ageing — infrastructure without causing interference.

A web gateway, such an DMZ, also needs to support other commonly accepted security standards, like transport layer security (TLS) encryption, and digital authentication methods. It also must be integrated seamlessly into the existing infrastructure, while also being able to support different ways of deployments, from a native local installation to a containerizes option.

Containerization simplifies administration and is another step to making systems secure. Here, containerization implements tools and policies to ensure that container infrastructure, apps and other container components are protected. Applications run in isolated user spaces, called containers, using the same shared operating system (OS).

With software like COPA-DATA’s zenon Service Grid, it is easy to implement on brownfield applications. Its design allows access to data without impacting existing infrastructure. This is particularly crucial for energy grids and infrastructures that contain legacy equipment.

This method can help to prevent any unwanted denial of service (DoS) blocking an operator’s path, access information systems, devices or other network resources due to a malicious cyber threat.

Up to the standard

Scenarios like this are recognized in the security industry standards and must be supported by software.

Continuing with our aforementioned example, COPA-DATA’s zenon Service Grid communicates using certificate-based TLS connections, ensuring secure transmission of information, even over public networks. Here, the software’s Identity Service handles data flows and access rights over the web, which is crucial for a secure web gateway.

The Identity Services does this by providing high project specific security standards and checking all connection requests from all Service Grid connections. This service also includes a web bases interface to configure access clients, user roles and access rights.

Greater protection and a higher level of sophistication is a necessity in cybersecurity measures for the energy sector. And with the right software, adhering to industry standards and providing a more secure internet gateway, users can protect their critical OT infrastructure to significantly reduce the number of cyber security attacks.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently. The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2021, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 64 million.

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Wednesday, 09 March 2022 12:35

Edge computing and its role in the smart factory

~ Making sense of the edge ~

According to Google Trends data, worldwide searches for ‘edge computing’ have increased tenfold in the last five years. Google alone boasts 340 million search results for the phrase — hardly simple revision for those curious about the technology. Among the noise — and the varying definitions of edge computing — the technology has become somewhat misunderstood. Martyn Williams, Managing Director of industrial software expert, COPA-DATA UK examines the role of edge computing in smart factories.  

Edge computing describes a distributed version of computation that brings data analysis closer to the source of data. In a factory setting, this could see data processing take place at the machine level. Unlike centralised models, where information would be sent to a data centre or the cloud, edge computing allows data capture, analysis, and action to be performed on the edge of a process — hence the name.

Despite its capabilities, edge computing is not a replacement for centralised data storage methods, or an alternative to other data processing and management technologies. In fact, these architectures must work together to be truly beneficial.

So, are edge devices just a new brand of the same technology? Not exactly.  

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Latency reduction

Edge devices are unique in the sense that they provide first-stage processing of data before sending this information elsewhere. Edge devices can also act on this data within the realms of the device itself, thanks to their intelligent capabilities. This can be achieved using forms of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help in decision making.

Because everything is taking place on the device, this method can significantly reduce latency, removing the time spent between sharing this information with distant data centres and awaiting feedback.

In practice, this could help a manufacturer to avoid critical failures and downtime. In an oil and gas application, for example, an edge device could detect dangerously high pressure in pipes. Rather than waiting for this data to be processed elsewhere and sent back to a site manager, the device could trigger instant shut offs or adaptations to avoid a disaster. Similarly, this same method can be used to make automated adjustments to a process to improve the outcome — this could be related to energy efficiency, accuracy or productivity.

The ability to effect change based on real-time data does exist in current software platforms. COPA-DATA’s zenon, for instance, can be deployed across an entire facility to monitor operations. Compatible with most communication protocols, the software can pull data from a variety of equipment, sensors and vertical systems to provide operators with a real-time dashboard of facility-wide insights. Like our aforementioned example, this can alert users to disruptions in production and highlight potential problems.  

Streamlining data

IIoT technologies have resulted in a huge increase in data across the industry. Today, it is not unusual for manufacturers to produce data on everything from energy efficiency and productivity, right through to operational insights and predictive maintenance. In fact, research suggests that the average smart factory produces five petabytes of data every week — that’s five million gigabytes, or the equivalent of more than 300,000 16 gigabyte iPhones.

Manufacturing’s big data has quickly become colossal, and edge computing provides a way to reduce the volume of data being sent to a centralised space.

For industries that rely on data integrity for compliance, deploying edge computing to manage some data analysis can become a vital part of a data management strategy. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, for example, must comply with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 21 CFR part 11 regulation. This standard applies to drug manufacturers and bio tech companies and requires these organisations to keep an accurate audit trail and electronic records. EU GMP Annex 11 is the European equivalent.

In these industries, on-edge analysis of some data can reduce the volume of information being sent to the cloud or data centre. Crucially, this ensures that time sensitive data is not lost in the flood of information.

Scaling the edge

While some processes do benefit from instant data analysis, smart factories cannot work in silos. The rise of the edge does not mark the downfall of other data management technologies. In fact, it reinforces their necessity.

Software platforms that can communicate with edge devices are essential for making edge technology scalable. Moreover, platforms that can collect, analyse, and visualise data from the edge — while compiling this with a variety of other types of equipment — are essential for constructing a holistic view of a factory’s operations.

Realistically, most manufacturing facilities are not in a position for the widespread deployment of edge devices, or edge platforms to converge these technologies. Instead, manufacturers need scalable options in their journey to digitalisation — and independent software can be the glue that makes this possible.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.

The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

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In manufacturing operations, ensuring efficient output and product quality is key. However, due to the nature of traditional production lines, these processes can be error-prone and inefficient. Using a dedicated line execution system to monitor and visualize production data at every stage of the process can help to identify areas for improvement and optimize operations. Here, Giuseppe Menin, Pharmaceutical Industry Manager at automation software supplier, COPA-DATA, discusses manufacturing line solutions using zenon as a line execution system.

The concept of an assembly line was patented in 1901 and now, over a century later, production lines are a mainstay in modern manufacturing.  Consisting of a series of workstations or machines, they are scalable and ensure some degree of uniformity and consistency of production. However, this can often be at the expense of quality and efficiency.

Manufacturers looking to achieve higher levels of quality and to improve production line output could consider using automation in their manufacturing operations. COPA-DATA’s zenon software can be used as a line execution system — an integrated software solution that can give operators the power to visualize, oversee and control entire production processes from batch opening to final batch report from one convenient platform.

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Production line challenges

The typical configuration of a production line involves a number of isolated machines working as standalone equipment. Operating several isolated machines is time consuming for an operator when he needs to setup the product recipe, start the production and monitor each individual machine by a local HMI panel. By implementing a line execution system, these machines can all be connected and offer a single point of access from which the whole line can be visualized and managed, simplifying the process overall.

Introducing a line execution system is beneficial for data collection and gathering. When equipment is operating as a standalone unit, it collects its own data in a specific format, making collection and analysis of this information time consuming and prone to issues. An automated system provides central data storage for easy access to all relevant information and good manufacturing practice (GMP) records, improving Data Integrity compliance and saving time during monitoring and quality control.

The potential quality issues that arise during line manufacturing are especially significant in industries such as pharmaceutical production, where strict regulations mean compliance is of the utmost importance. Failure to comply can have severe consequences, including risks to health from unsafe products, heavy fines and even criminal charges.

Automating a production line allows end-to-end transparency and traceability at every stage and can even detect and notify operators of GMP deviations, giving manufacturers more control over quality and reducing the margin for error.

Integrated production solutions

COPA-DATA’s automation software zenon offers an integrated platform for production line control and execution. Fully scalable, the software platform can be implemented from small batch operations through to mass production, and can easily upgrade existing legacy equipment for inclusion in the automated line, allowing manufacturers to keep their current machinery and preserve their investments. New standard operating procedures can be directly implemented, reducing changeover time and cost and, in the long-term, increasing plant output.

A line execution system can save plant managers time and resources. Moreover, increased visibility and accessibility of data means can help to improve overall efficiency. It can also monitor machine status and production parameters and alert a supervisor in the event of any issues, giving them better operational awareness and supporting them in decision making. 

zenon is an adaptable out-of-the-box approach, providing the first level of plant digitalization, including historian audit trails, reporting, recipe and process management and preparation of the production line for higher level digital integration.

Production lines revolutionized industry over 100 years ago, but the evolution of automation and digitalization can unlock new possibilities for traditional processes to keep up with modern demands. Manufacturers can use the software as the first step on their digitalization journey and grow from there, avoiding pilot project purgatory on the way to their digital plant.

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Monday, 10 January 2022 11:03

IEC 61850 and the road to renewables

~ Standards for the smart grid ~

The United Nations (UN) climate declaration, announced at COP26, has called for governments to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels in favour of renewable technologies. In light of these new commitments, digitalization of the world’s energy grids becomes even more essential. Here, Jurgen Resch, Energy Industry Manager at COPA-DATA, examines the state of digitalization in the energy sector and the standards required to make net-zero possible.   

The energy sector has always been an early adopter of digital technologies. In fact, in the 1970s, utility providers deployed emerging technologies to facilitate grid management. Similarly, oil and gas organisations have long used technology to improve decision making and for exploration of new assets. Despite this early adoption, the sector is continuing to face challenges related to communication.

Developed countries in particular face a complex juxtaposition; they have the technology available to digitize their networks, but their infrastructure is often aging, making it difficult to integrate new technologies with existing propriety systems. As such, networks are often compromised of a huge number of assets communicating via numerous protocols.

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Setting the standards
IEC 61850 is the defining standard for intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) at electrical substations. Explained simply, it allows protection, control, measurement, and electronic devices in substations to communicate, without the complications caused by proprietary protocols. The standard was intended to provide a basis for integrating substation equipment by using an open vendor approach.

That said, the standard is much more than an outline for communication mechanisms. When used correctly, IEC 61850 can help energy companies use digitalization to make their processes simpler and their equipment more flexible. Importantly, IEC 61850 is a vital step for the low carbon energy transition and for the management of distributed energy resources (DERs).

Concepts of IEC 61850
A key concept of IEC 61850 is data specification. Communication across all network devices enables the detailed mapping of every characteristic value, every function and all inference parameters within a network. This is achieved through the distribution of functional units — sometimes referred to as logical nodes.

An essential outcome of this function is the carrying of a Protection, Automation and Control (PAC) solution and an IED. This would ensure that if a protection device signals a ground fault, a control device can immediately instruct the circuit breaker to take action to prevent errors. With IEC 61850, this communication is done on the network, removing the need for tons of separate copper wires.

For energy grids integrating renewable power — which, at the moment, is all of them — this level of communication is essential. Let’s imagine that an electricity grid has integrated power from a wind farm, for instance. The fluctuating nature of wind power exposes the system to greater swings in power generation. Because energy is so difficult to store and many grids do not have sufficient storage, difficulties balancing supply and demand can easily cause faults.  

For modern grids integrating an array of renewable technologies, ensuring seam free communication between devices can help to avoid catastrophic failures like this. In fact, to support the integration of renewable energy, IEC 61850 includes some specific standards for certain power generation types. This includes IEC 61850-7-420, which deals with the logical nodes required for hydroelectric power plants which, while this isn’t a fluctuating energy source, has its communication challenges of its own.

Modernizing the grid
IEC 61850 already helps the energy industry meets the main requirements of smart grids — improving reliability, efficiency, flexibility and interoperability. However, as electrical grids need to continue to change and evolve due to an increasing reliance on renewables, the digitization of energy networks must also continue.

We are already seeing significant changes in the types of energy used worldwide. Consider the UK as an example. Wind power provided over 40 per cent of the UK’s power in 2019, following a 96 per cent decrease in the use of coal the year prior. While this has been a great success for the environment, it is a wildly dramatic change for the grid.  

To achieve the environmental goals set out at the UN Climate Change Conference, which should see all countries increasing the percentage of renewable energy in their total consumption, the grid still requires significant digitalization — both in the UK and in almost every other country with their own environmental goals.

COPA-DATA developed zenon Energy Edition, an automation platform for the energy industry, with this digitalization in mind. The software is certified against IEC 61850 to ensure it supports energy grids to standardize communication. Crucially, zenon uses a wide range of communication protocols to ensure it enables communication between a whole host of different devices — regardless of its age, manufacturer or protocol.

More information on zenon Energy Edition — and COPA-DATA’s advice and gudience on IEC 61850 can be found in the recently published whitepaper: Successful digitalization in energy projects with IEC 61850: An executive overview. You can download the guide here and find more information at www.copadata.com.

About COPA-DATA
COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.

The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

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The climate crisis requires urgent action as we need to significantly reduce our CO2 emissions to curb climate change and limit the average temperature increase to about 1.5°C. Here, Austrian ORF meteorologist, Marcus Wadsack writes: We are the first generation to feel climate change and the last to do something about it. We have the technology and the money, it would be negligent if we do nothing.

Nature itself provides climate-neutral energy in abundance. Year after year, the sun alone supplies more than 10,000 times the annual energy demand of the entire human race. The task of photovoltaic power plants is to convert the sun's rays into electricity. But the optimal management of the huge number of components like PV panels, converters or switchgear requires advanced techniques and methods.

Using the sun's energy with automation

2021 11 02 100250

Whether small solar PV systems with an electrical output of 1MW or large ones with well over 100MW, they should all be operated as close as possible to the optimum and must therefore be monitored. In addition, when such large outputs are fed into the power grid, they must be continuously reported to the entity responsible for the grid. The feeding point is usually a substation with special features in terms of switching reliability and remote monitoring. But not only online monitoring and control is important, retrospective monitoring of key indicators should also be possible. After all, the operator wants to know what return his investment is delivering or where there is a need for optimization.

To meet all these requirements, COPA-DATA has developed the Solar PV Application Set based on its zenon software platform. An Application Set is an application template that helps integrators and operators alike to create a specific process visualization quickly and easily.

For solar PV systems, the Application Set offers the ideal overview, summarizes all relevant components such as PV modules and strings, combiner boxes and inverters and clearly displays their operating status. In a solar heat map, the service engineer can immediately see which parts of the system are shaded or dirty or have other deviations or errors. This allows continuous maintenance work to be carried out in a simple and targeted manner, but also with foresight.

2021 11 02 100316

Another great advantage lies in the integrated reporting functions of zenon. Meaningful statistics can be created based on value archives of any duration and pre-compression. Thus, for example, causes of alarms can be analyzed, or yield figures and benchmarks — for example, according to IEC 61724 — can be formed. The possibility of uncomplicated reporting in zenon, based on an integrated database, means an invaluable advantage in the strategic optimization of system operation.

Accurate forecasting and balancing of the yields in real time is another important aspect of the automation of solar power plants. Corresponding outputs or surpluses must be precisely coordinated with the grid operator. On the other hand, specifications must be received from the grid operators. The data exchange required for this can take place via various industry protocols such as IE C 60870, DNP3 or OPC-UA as well as via REST or MQTT-based web protocols (XML, JSON) and must in any case fulfill a sufficient degree of robustness as well as cyber security.

Switchgear or substations form the bridge between the local power plant and the next higher network level. Here, expensive high-voltage components must be reliably orchestrated and monitored. Several specialized switching and protection systems from different manufacturers are typically used here. Here, zenon provides a comprehensive overview by means of the topological real-time representation of the networks. Powerful functions for the safe execution, but also recording and playback of complex switching operations can be easily used with the zenon software platform.

The possibilities of modern solar PV operation management

The consistent use of renewable energies for the purpose of mitigating the negative consequences of climate change must be made a top priority, especially in view of the effects that are already being clearly felt. Photovoltaic power plants are a supporting pillar for a carbon neutral energy economy. Intelligent automation helps to fully exploit the potential of photovoltaic power plants and to optimize yields over many years. The zenon software platform covers a unique spectrum of tasks for the operational management of photovoltaic power plants as well as surrounding switchgear or substations. The Solar PV Application Set in zenon effectively combines important functions and thus creates the ideal prerequisite for the perfect use of the valuable energy that our sun offers us.

Visit the COPA-DATA website for more product information, or click here to contact  directly.

About COPA-DATA

COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million.

Published in Green Industry
Tagged under
Thursday, 14 October 2021 10:20

Let's not waste time and energy

~ How the operational management of photovoltaic power plants succeed at the first attempt ~

The climate crisis requires urgent action as we need to significantly reduce our CO2 emissions to curb climate change and limit the average temperature increase to about 1.5°C. Here, Austrian ORF meteorologist, Marcus Wadsack writes: We are the first generation to feel climate change and the last to do something about it. We have the technology and the money, it would be negligent if we do nothing.

Nature itself provides climate-neutral energy in abundance. Year after year, the sun alone supplies more than 10,000 times the annual energy demand of the entire human race. The task of photovoltaic power plants is to convert the sun's rays into electricity. But the optimal management of the huge number of components like PV panels, converters or switchgear requires advanced techniques and methods.

2021 10 14 101927

Using the sun's energy with automation
Whether small solar PV systems with an electrical output of 1MW or large ones with well over 100MW, they should all be operated as close as possible to the optimum and must therefore be monitored. In addition, when such large outputs are fed into the power grid, they must be continuously reported to the entity responsible for the grid. The feeding point is usually a substation with special features in terms of switching reliability and remote monitoring. But not only online monitoring and control is important, retrospective monitoring of key indicators should also be possible. After all, the operator wants to know what return his investment is delivering or where there is a need for optimization.

To meet all these requirements, COPA-DATA has developed the Solar PV Application Set based on its zenon software platform. An Application Set is an application template that helps integrators and operators alike to create a specific process visualization quickly and easily.

For solar PV systems, the Application Set offers the ideal overview, summarizes all relevant components such as PV modules and strings, combiner boxes and inverters and clearly displays their operating status. In a solar heat map, the service engineer can immediately see which parts of the system are shaded or dirty or have other deviations or errors. This allows continuous maintenance work to be carried out in a simple and targeted manner, but also with foresight.

Another great advantage lies in the integrated reporting functions of zenon. Meaningful statistics can be created based on value archives of any duration and pre-compression. Thus, for example, causes of alarms can be analyzed, or yield figures and benchmarks — for example, according to IEC 61724 — can be formed. The possibility of uncomplicated reporting in zenon, based on an integrated database, means an invaluable advantage in the strategic optimization of system operation.

2021 10 14 101946

Accurate forecasting and balancing of the yields in real time is another important aspect of the automation of solar power plants. Corresponding outputs or surpluses must be precisely coordinated with the grid operator. On the other hand, specifications must be received from the grid operators. The data exchange required for this can take place via various industry protocols such as IE C 60870, DNP3 or OPC-UA as well as via REST or MQTT-based web protocols (XML, JSON) and must in any case fulfill a sufficient degree of robustness as well as cyber security.

Switchgear or substations form the bridge between the local power plant and the next higher network level. Here, expensive high-voltage components must be reliably orchestrated and monitored. Several specialized switching and protection systems from different manufacturers are typically used here. Here, zenon provides a comprehensive overview by means of the topological real-time representation of the networks. Powerful functions for the safe execution, but also recording and playback of complex switching operations can be easily used with the zenon software platform.

The possibilities of modern solar PV operation management
The consistent use of renewable energies for the purpose of mitigating the negative consequences of climate change must be made a top priority, especially in view of the effects that are already being clearly felt. Photovoltaic power plants are a supporting pillar for a carbon neutral energy economy.

Intelligent automation helps to fully exploit the potential of photovoltaic power plants and to optimize yields over many years. The zenon software platform covers a unique spectrum of tasks for the operational management of photovoltaic power plants as well as surrounding switchgear or substations. The Solar PV Application Set in zenon effectively combines important functions and thus creates the ideal prerequisite for the perfect use of the valuable energy that our sun offers us.

Visit the COPA-DATA website for more product information, or click here to contact  directly.

About COPA-DATA
COPA-DATA is an independent software manufacturer that specializes in digitalization for the manufacturing industry and energy sector. Its zenon® software platform enables users worldwide to automate, manage, monitor, integrate and optimize machines, equipment, buildings and power grids. COPA-DATA combines decades of experience in automation with the potential of digital transformation. In this way, the company supports its customers to achieve their objectives more easily, faster and more efficiently.
The family-owned business was founded by Thomas Punzenberger in 1987 in Salzburg, Austria. In 2020, with more than 300 employees worldwide, it generated revenue of EUR 54 million. www.copadata.com

Published in Power & water
Tagged under
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