Written by Carsten Frederiksen

Eiffage Energie Systèmes-Clemessy and Dewesoft have been working in a strong partnership for years, supplying solutions, combining supervision, control, and high-quality data acquisition systems, for challenging markets such as aerospace, defense, or automotive. 

Such solutions must be able to control the processes with the utmost precision – this requires a reliable and automatic operation, a configurable and adaptable system with an efficient process interface, and real-time control. The innovative solution combining Syclone and Dewesoft fulfills these requirements.

Syclone real-time measurement and control systems by Clemessy and Dewesoft

Introduction

To maintain larger systems in the best-operating conditions supervisory control and monitoring have in many cases been applied to often complex processes in industries such as aerospace, defense, energy, automotive, and manufacturing. It is used to supervise and manage machinery, buildings, and facilities based on the acquisition and processing of data: measurements, alarms, status updates, etc., and measurements, etc., and on parameters of command of the processes most often executed by programmable automation.

To meet the technological challenge of simplified, and yet increasingly high-performance operation, Clemessy has developed Syclone, a fully scalable control-command software. Operating like a toolbox, it makes it possible to develop a customized solution adapted to any needs and environments, from the simplest to the most complex systems. The software combines the worlds of supervision, real-time process control, and physical hardware.

Clemessy, a subsidiary of Eiffage, is a French integrator of control command systems and test benches, that includes for example supervision of critical systems, process control and automation, and also integration and test facilities.

Dewesoft is a Slovenian provider of data acquisition (DAQ) and analysis solutions. Today, it is a multinational corporation with 16 subsidiaries across the world, and a leading manufacturer of measurement hardware and software, recognized by companies such as NASA, SpaceX, Volvo, Bosch, BMW, Audi, Caterpillar, Daimler Benz, and many others.

Supervision and Control Challenges

The major challenge for such supervision solutions is to control the processes with the utmost precision – this requires six key points to be fulfilled:

  1. A reliable and secure system to guarantee the quality and accuracy of operations.
  2. An efficient process interface, able to acquire data with fast sampling and fully synchronized devices is also needed.
  3. An easily configurable and adaptable system will be the third key point to perfectly fit the needs of the task.
  4. In order to limit the risk of error and ensure the reliability of the process, it is essential to have a system that operates autonomously and automatically but has the possibility of manual operator intervention.
  5. The use of a real-time controller is also one of the keys to accuracy. It ensures the respect of time-cycle constraints and the expected accuracy of the process.
  6. At the crossroads with automatic and autonomous operation, a real-time PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) controller has to be implemented - using a control loop feedback mechanism to control process variables it automatically applies an accurate and responsive correction to a control function between the setpoints and the measurements.

All these essential requirements are fulfilled with the solution combining Syclone and Dewesoft.

Supervision and control command system overviewFigure 1.: Supervision and control command system overview.

The Syclone hardware and software architecture allows the supervision of industrial processes. It is an efficient solution, serving all applications of control-command systems from industrial automation to control benches for spatial launchers.

The Syclone modular software is highly adaptable to very different needs. It is a toolbox that allows building a fully customized solution from the simple to the most complex system. The modules include a human-machine interface, operation sequencer, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Acquisition), real-time controller, data acquisition, and also a server. Each software module has dedicated functions and can be adapted to specific needs.

The set of modules can be implemented “à la carte” according to requirements, in order to optimize the overall development time and simplify the use of the software. Each module has a dedicated function that can be adapted to your specific needs. They are grouped together into 3 categories according to their function and role in the system:

  • The Core, which is the heart of the system at the server level, which the system relies on. The server includes data acquisition, as well as event recording and management. A script editor performs timer-based operations and a variable editor configures the interfaces with the process
  • The SCADA unit is developed in Java which constitutes the heart of the system for the supervision of installations, processes, or measurements. It includes a viewer to view and control in- and outputs on a mimic diagram, a curves function to plot curves and trends in real-time or not real-time, and a viewer editor to edit the visuals and a database Interface
  • The Real-Time unit developed in C++ constitutes the heart of the system for controlling processes, sequences, and automated systems in real-time. It includes a sequence editor, a graphical editor to create a real-time sequence, an automatism equipment editor, another Graphical editor to create real-time automation equipment. And finally, a Real-Time Controller to control in- and outputs and a process simulator to simulate a process in real-time.

No more coding or tedious tasks are needed, except if coding in C++ is needed. Tests are defined by the graphical sequencer. Sequence or automaton is defined by drag and drop actions. A portable tool to develop your sequence offline without the need to be connected to the test bench is also available.

Dewesoft EtherCAT Data Acquisition Devices

The fast and highly flexible Ethernet network protocol EtherCAT (Ethernet for Control Automation Technology) brings the power of ethernet to the world of industrial automation, motion control, real-time control systems, and data acquisition systems.

Control devices, such as PLCs, are masters on the EtherCAT network, whereas measurement devices have historically been “slaves”. However, the third type of device has been developed by Dewesoft: 

A DAQ system that combines high-speed data acquisition to a host in parallel with EtherCAT real-time data to a PLC or master controller software/hardware.

Until recently, when engineers wanted real-time data from a DAQ system, they would take the several analog outputs (separate output for each of the analog input channels) from the DAQ system and bring them into the PLC controller. This required multiple analog inputs as well as redundant conversion from analog to digital and back to analog data.

By installing an EtherCAT slave port into the DAQ systems, however, Dewesoft eliminates the redundant analog inputs on the PLC completely. DAQ systems like IOLITE and IOLITEd can even eliminate the PLC hardware completely in many applications. It is possible to connect IOLITE to a computer host running real-time PLC software, e.g. a system like Syclone from Clemessy and others.

Dewesoft EtherCAT compatible IOLITE data acquisition and control systems video

Combining IOLITE DAQ and control system with one of these real-time PLC software systems connected via EtherCAT, IOLITE can even drive the actuators, providing the real-time hardware control needed for the system.

Furthermore, the EtherCAT Master Port allows channel expansion. The IOLITE DAQ and control systems have dual redundant EtherCAT ports, meaning they can receive synchronized data from other EtherCAT equipped DAQ systems, like the Dewesoft SIRIUS and KRYPTON DAQ modules, or of course, additional IOLITE or IOLITEd modules.

Simple Example – Supervision of an Electric Cylinder

A simple, but typical example - a system set up with an industrial electric cylinder - can illustrate how the worlds of measurement and control fit together.

Example – process control and supervision of an industrial electrical cylinderFigure 2.: Example – process control and supervision of an industrial electrical cylinder

The complete system commanding an industrial electrical cylinder combining Dewesoft and Syclone via EtherCATFigure 3.: The complete system commanding an industrial electrical cylinder combining Dewesoft and Syclone via EtherCAT.

On one side, the world of supervision. Syclone ensures the interface with the operator and performs the server and real-time sequencer. On the other, in the world of data acquisition and process control - Dewesoft equipment is directly interfaced with the process. What is unique, is that the Dewesoft data acquisition systems are not only used as data acquisition but also as third-party EtherCAT slaves.

Process to Drive

The process to drive and control the electric cylinder is based on a position sensor which will acquire the position of this cylinder, and a force sensor, which will acquire the force applied by the cylinder. Both parameters are used to set up the application and monitor the cylinder. Such a process could be used in manufacturing to assemble or constrain different parts of a project.

Acquisition and Control System

In the field of acquisition and control systems, Dewesoft front-ends - Sirius for sensor acquisition and a Krypton for cylinder control - provide the interface between the physical system and the real-time controller. This part of the setup is connected to the heart of the installation, the real-time controller, through an EtherCAT link to ensure real-time monitoring and operation from an operator position.

Real-time Controller

The real-time controller controls the physical system according to instructions predefined by the user. It processes information – the measurements acquired by the Dewesoft devices, and also safely monitors the system - autonomously and continuously - to prevent dangerous situations, e.g. too much compression, and to put the system in safe mode if needed.

The guaranteed cycle time of all these operations is 1 ms. Real-time processing is provided by the combination of a real-time LINUX system, RedHawk, and an EtherCAT field network between the real-time controller and Dewesoft front-ends.

Supervision System

Finally, the supervision system or the human-machine interface, which displays field information to the operator allowing the definition and configuration of the desired drive according to the available measurements and control parameters. The system takes into account any changes in the operator’s setpoints and allows the operator to select manual or automatic drive and control of the system.

The supervision system could be fully web-based using a web browser on a laptop or mobile tablet. This will allow the operator to be as close as possible to the system.

Larger and More Complex Systems

What if the need is more complex than managing an electric cylinder? If we look a little further you may wish to know how this solution could meet your needs if they are more complex than the management of a simple electric cylinder. With a similar architecture but at a larger scale implementing Dewesoft systems and a Syclone command solution you will be able to realize this kind of test bench.

ESA Test Bench for Solid Propellant Boosters

For example, CLEMESSY and Dewesoft delivered a supervision and control system to be used when testing the booster for the launch of the Ariane 6 – the unmanned spacecraft of the European space organization, ESA.

Testing spacecraft boosters at the European Spaceport near Kourou in French GuianaFigure 4.: Testing spacecraft boosters at the European Spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana.

The Solid Booster Test Bench (BEAP) is the unique test pad in French Guiana used to test the boosters of the European ARIANE 5, VEGA, and ARIANE 6 launchers. The test bench must acquire measurements as well as control the nozzle in order to check the operation of the on-board electronics.

As with the missile tests, the uniqueness and the high added value of the units tested, as well as the high pyrotechnic risks, require optimal safety and reliability of the control-command for a system that must be able to be used for several decades.

As part of this project, Clemessy designed and built the entire control-command and data acquisition system, with the integration of the Syclone software and Dewesoft DAQ.

The BEAP test bench hardware setup. Dewesoft Sirius and SBOX R8 and Syclone are combined and communicate via an EtherCAT network. The processing loop time is 1 ms on a network of about 4 kilometers
Figure 5.: The BEAP test bench hardware setup. Dewesoft Sirius and SBOX R8 and Syclone are combined and communicate via an EtherCAT network. The processing loop time is 1 ms on a network of about 4 kilometers.

Condition Monitoring on Chaban-Delmas Bridge

To investigate the sources and to increase the overall quality in predictive maintenance, Clemessy installed sound and vibration monitoring sensors to monitor the kinematic chain – the machinery – as well as the main pulleys on each side of the Chaban-Delmas bridge in Bordeaux, France.

Operator view from the control center of the Chaban-Delmas bridge in Bordeaux, FranceFigure 6.: Operator view from the control center of the Chaban-Delmas bridge in Bordeaux, France.

The Chaban-Delmas bridge is a structure capable of lifting a lifting span of 2,750 tons to a height of 53 meters in 11 minutes allowing the passage of yachts, ferries, or sailboats that will dock at the port of Bordeaux.

The lifting mechanism works on the principle of a giant elevator and requires the participation of a team of ten staff members. The challenge was to define the best DAQ architecture and monitoring technology for this instrumentation with long cable lengths and to interconnect the Dewesoft data acquisition solution to the customer database.

Conclusion

In short, the solution is reliable and efficient with faster software development and cost optimization due to the reuse of modules and adaptation to exact customer specifications. It is also easy and fast to use as we could set up graphical sequences and automated processes can be set up to control the system. Furthermore, it is safe and proven as Syclone has been designed for critical applications, and cybersecurity is implemented. And finally, it has a long service life as it is independent of OS versions.

The Syclone and Dewesoft solution is perfectly suited for critical applications and controlling installations:

  • Supervision of critical systems
  • Process control and automation system
  • Integration and test facilities
  • Real-time controller and sequencer
  • Measurement - data-acquisition
  • Assembly line - lean manufacturing

Hardware representation, Syclone ensures the interfaces with the operator, performs the server, and real-time sequencer. Whereas Dewesoft is interfaced with the process. The originality is that the Dewesoft systems are not only used as data-acquisition but also as “the third party” EtherCAT slavesFigure 7.: Hardware representation, Syclone ensures the interfaces with the operator, performs the server, and real-time sequencer. Whereas Dewesoft is interfaced with the process. The originality is that the Dewesoft systems are not only used as data-acquisition but also as “the third party” EtherCAT slaves.