The perfect upgrade

2014-03-17 - ABB has upgraded the Advant human machine interface at the Swanbank E power station in Australia with the latest control and virtualization technologies – a perfect solution that meets a long list of customer requirements.

Swanbank E is a highly efficient 385 MW gas-fired combined cycle power station in Queensland, Australia. It is owned by Stanwell Corporation Limited, Queensland’s largest power generator.

The Swanbank E control system consists of ABB Advant AC160/AC450 controllers for the gas turbine (Egatrol 8), steam turbine (Turbotrol 8) and all DCS applications, including the water-steam cycle and balance of plant. The original HMI solution from the late 1990s was built on Unix-based Advant OS500 operator stations and an information management system (IMS) with OPTIMAX performance monitoring functions included.

After 10 years of successful operation, Stanwell decided to upgrade the control system “to ensure continued reliability, availability, functionality, data security, and OEM hardware and software support of the operator interface until the end of the serviceable life of the station in 2023.”

Although the plant’s original control system hardware was meeting performance expectations and is actively supported by ABB, the Unixbased Advant OS500 operator stations and IMS Historian were nearing the end of their working lives.


“ABB was selected because of its experience and expertise with the Advant control system, the MB300 bus and HMI graphics. One of the key drivers for a successful outcome of the project was the like-for-like transformation of the operator interface graphics. ABB was able to deliver this to an exceptional standard. It was one of the highlights of the project and the operators quickly adapted to the new interface. One of the other key drivers of the project was to leverage the existing VMware ESXi environment at Swanbank. ABB was able to provide excellent technical support for the integration of this technology into our control system environment. ABB was able to deliver the project on time and in full. ABB is continuing to support me through the Sentinel Program and plant support service level agreement.”


Peter Hoerlein
Senior Electrical Engineer
Stanwell Corporation Limited


Committed to Advant

ABB is strongly committed to evolving the Advant platform and protecting customer investments in it. As a result of this long-term strategy, ABB was able to propose an upgrade solution that met all Stanwell’s requirements. The solution is based on ABB’ s System 800xA for Advant Master, combined with Power Generation Information Manager (PGIM).

ABB has installed this combination in many similar combined cycle power plants all over the world, in both OS500 upgrades and greenfield installations. It is the perfect replacement, providing all OS500 and IMS functionality in addition to the full power of System 800xA. But for Swanbank E, ABB went even further.

The ABB System 800xA solution is not just a one-to-one replacement of the old operator stations and IMS, but a full system architecture upgrade incorporating the latest technology and concepts. The most radical change includes the complete virtualization of all HMI servers based on VMware ESXi server technology.

Replacing obsolete PCI-based RTA communication boards with Ethernetbased PU410 units, and completely decoupling the MB300 process network from the server hardware, meant server virtualization was the way forward. Virtualization simplifies how servers are managed and maintained. Running multiple virtual machines on a single physical machine drastically reduces hardware requirements and operating expenses and increases availability. All HMI servers including PGIM and OPTIMAX now run on two physical servers, without compromising availability and reliability.

Following the successful HMI upgrade, ABB optimization and process specialists also retuned the existing OPTIMAX performance monitoring system and upgraded all controllers to the latest firmware versions to improve and correct performance. This also enabled use of the latest Windows-based engineering tools for the Advant platform to simplify maintenance and control application tuning.

Close cooperation with Stanwell personnel during planning, testing and commissioning enabled ABB to execute the entire project within just six months. The upgraded system was installed and commissioned within a fixed three-week time limit. As the new system was commissioned, the new virtual servers were integrated into the customer’s network and IT infrastructure, and the complete MB300 process network was upgraded and cleaned up. Plant operation and supervision were not interrupted. In addition to the expertise of many experienced engineers, this achievement relied on the advantages of server virtualization technology combined with the flexible architecture of ABB’s Advant and 800xA platforms.


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In Control 1-2014: "Flexible Service Solutions"