Internet & Fieldbus Technologies – PaDECS® Merging the Two Worlds for Critical, Networked Industrial Applications

Some control solution providers understand the internet, the cloud, single-board PCs, or modern software development ecosystems. Some automation and control providers understand fieldbus communication, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and graphical logic programming.

A lot of work has been done to compare and combine these fundamentally different and seemingly incompatible approaches.

But is an Internet of Things (IoT)-based system naturally too unreliable, slow and non-deterministic in a practical sense when dynamically controlling complex, critical industrial hardware? And what does it take for a PLC-based system to reach the flexibility for complex model-based, event-driven control with seamless web integration?

Long-standing automation system providers have retrofitted web-technology components to their PLCs, but the core control application development remains inflexible in many ways. On the other side, emerging technology platform companies have added field control components to their web platforms, but the field application remains too non-deterministic or slow to rely on.

Industries with large numbers of geographically distributed, critically controlled assets, linked by networks, such as the energy and transport sectors, need a control platform class that seamlessly merges the two technologies whilst preserving the best of both worlds. This means hard real-time protections and reliable dynamic field-level control, fully integrated with flexible application software development and the internet.

Enter the new paradigm of the next generation PaDECS®, the platform built for community, commercial and industrial Microgrids and Embedded Networks! It is a powerful yet lightweight platform that merges internet communication technology, cutting edge methods of web-integrated software development and hardware level-agnostic applications with fast, quasi-real-time Fieldbus communication with devices.

PaDECS® overlays fast, dynamic network control functionality, considered real-time on the scale of a few hundred milliseconds, to the PLC-type OEM field device controllers, whose integrity for protections and low-level machine dynamics is not compromised. PaDECS® introduces a network layer between the field layer and the cloud that efficiently merges the technologies. Furthermore, the PaDECS® software ecosystem is more conducive to developing control schemes and algorithms for networked intelligent devices than the established PLC programming environments.

The novel PaDECS® controller technology

Driven by the increasingly complex control requirements of power systems in electricity networks and microgrids, and with a vision of making use of web technologies to reduce cost and implementation times for the integration of distributed energy resources, PowerTec set out to develop PaDECS® – the “Parallel Distributed Edge Control System”.

Using flexible, industrial-grade, ruggedised and low-cost single-board computer hardware running Linux, the PaDECS® platform has been purpose-designed from the message handling layer to the application layer. The communication serves both concurrent field device regulation and discrete control events. We use strong, functional programming languages suitable for solving complex tasks at the grid edge. Fast, fix-sampling rate dynamic controls are feasible, but event-driven controls are free from the fixed time corset for I/Os that is the nature of PLC programming. If an event occurs, like a network status change, PaDECS reacts with sub-second response times, while the network-wide coordination via web-based communications operates at similar response times. And toward the field level, the protections & control integrity of the field devices are never compromised.

The PaDECS® software platform includes:

  1. The PaDECS® Asset Manager (PAM), a concurrent, strong and compiled application that manages the fieldbus communications to multiple field devices in quasi-real-time. API communication to the other application levels is also managed by PAM.
  2. The PaDECS® Application Environment, a flexible framework that implements the power application using a functional scripting language,
  3. The PaDECS® Network Aggregator for calculating a network-wide status from the distributed asset status and managing inter-asset communication in a network or microgrid. It provides a localized UI and API for on-site users and interfaces (e.g. RTUs)
  4. The PaDECS® Cloud – manages portfolios of PaDECS® networks for fleet management and energy market applications. It provides a cloud-based UI and RESTful-APIs.

Flexibility – Run it at the grid edge or in the cloud

To leverage the power of the internet, PaDECS® can be directly connected to the cloud. Connect 100s or 1000s of field devices, electrical loads, power inverters or generators to the PaDECS® Cloud platform and operate a massive web-based microgrid!

Alternatively, if you need fast, real-time communication within your industrial, commercial or community microgrid, the PaDECS® platform can run entirely on-site without any requirement for external control interventions.  This is thanks to the flexibility of the PaDECS® Application Environment and Network Aggregator which are hardware- and platform-agnostic. Enjoy enhanced control dynamics for high renewable penetration, uninterrupted power or buffering for fast charging EVs within a microgrid setting.  Take comfort in the fact that the power supply will continue to operate smoothly and smartly without external management and automatically handle disturbances and outages!

PaDECS® is the distributed energy platform for industry and communities, networks and energy market participants.

Merging the application of Internet & Fieldbus technologies means prioritising and maximising the benefit for all stakeholders in a coherent, consistent way.

The PaDECS architecture enables balancing wholesale energy cost, ancillary market services and network constraints, with each effect considered simultaneously while maintaining supply for the end-user.

Finally, PaDECS® Cloud allows market participants to manage a portfolio aggregated by state, region or asset owner. Users can also deploy control schemes, schedules and rule-based actions and receive notifications on their messaging service.

Want to join us in shaping the electricity network transformation?

Want to join us shaping the electricity network transformation?


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