Improving performance in power plant operation

Sep 01, 2015

Siemens’ control system SPPA-T3000 Cue – a new release of the world’s leading control system for power generation – puts a focus on an improved Human Machine Interface [HMI] to enhance the economic performance of power stations.

Utilities and power plant managers are facing tough competition, and this puts more and more importance on performance in power plant operation – performance which is substantially influenced by the people operating the power plant.

This is why SPPA-T3000 Cue, the latest release of Siemens’ Distributed Control System [DCS] for power plants, has been designed following an operator-centric approach.

Comprehensive expertise for best-in-class automation

Siemens has handled power plant engineering, design, and construction in-house for decades. So the company is intimately familiar with all the tasks related to power plant automation. Having automated more than 2,700 units worldwide over the past 50 years with great success, Siemens is now focusing on making the operator’s job even more effective and more efficient.

This is achieved by providing an intuitive design, enabling faster response to disturbances, smooth handling, and reducing the risk of unplanned disruptions in operation. Siemens is convinced that this will make an impact on the performance of the plant as a whole.

Operator needs for more effective and more efficient plant operation

A power plant has thousands of sensors and signals, for the main components, for motors and pumps, for drives and fans. The daily responsibility of the operator is to monitor all these components and to re-adjust and to correct any deviations.

Smooth periods of working through the various required tasks can suddenly be interrupted by periods of hectic activity to counter disturbances in the plant’s operation or failures of the plant equipment. In these situations, operators do not need raw, unfiltered information – they rather need to focus on what really matters. Their ability to function in an appropriate manner is supported by SPPA-T3000 Cue which delivers the right information, in the right manner, at the right time.

Optimized workflows thanks to a clever HMI

SPPA-T3000 Cue is a control system that is intuitive to operate and provides the operator with complete control of his plant. With its ergonomic design, the system achieves maximum ease of operation, featuring information at the touch of a button, intuitive and icon-based navigation, one-click-access to important functions and to Siemens’ own and further applications.

In addition, the new release provides customizable user interfaces geared to an operator’s specific needs and comprehensive help in the event of faults, such as automatic first-value searching and suppression of subsequent messages. All of this combined leads to reduced stress levels in day-to-day business.

SPPA-T3000 Cue offers well thought-out support for various areas of the daily routine. Highly advanced diagnostic tools visualize detailed facts about the plant systems or specific equipment at a glance. Built-in operations management and shift logs make handovers and scheduling more manageable than ever.

And additionally, the user can easily tap into non-local applications, such as maintenance management, equipment diagnostic systems or task lists – all directly accessible from the HMI workplace. All relevant plant data can always be in sight.

Support in the event of an alarm

The new release also features improved alarm management. It classifies alarms, directs critical information to the operators in the control room, and re-directs unimportant messages to be either archived, or dealt with at a later time.

Alarm counts provide transparency about the plant’s situation and allow for quick and targeted reaction. Each alarm class is shown with the numbers of raising, unacknowledged and pending alarms; double-clicking opens the alarm-class-specific Alarm Sequence Display [ASD].

Group Alarm Indicators then reduce reaction time in critical situations: The respective alarm buttons allow direct navigation to the plant display which contains the corresponding component, avoiding a time-consuming search.
SPPA-T3000 Cue provides guidance by giving targeted cues to the control room personnel so that they can make better decisions – faster – in critical situations.

The HMI of SPPA-T3000 Cue manages torrents of messages and automatically guides the user through root-cause analysis in the event of a fault. Alarms and warnings are accompanied by detailed information and guidance for rapid resolution. Special alarm classes, specifically designed to avoid a plant trip or forced outage, include an alarm control window with clear instructions – enabling fast and precise action to keep a plant running.

Key Performance Indicators [KPIs] are always visible for the operator in order to provide transparency on the performance status of the power station. These KPIs may include output data, efficiency data, emissions figures, trend reports on pressures and temperatures, or other values.

A new alarm class “Diagnostic Recommended” [DR] has been introduced – it is used to detect availability-relevant components that have reached a status for which a deeper assessment is recommended. To do this, Siemens has integrated model-based condition monitoring into SPPA-T3000 Cue. The system reports subtle changes from the expected status even before the DCS limit values are reached. With one click, the “DR” simplifies root-cause analysis by showing plain text messages and opening all relevant displays. An in-depth analysis can then be carried out using Advanced Diagnostics. As a result, the integrated condition monitoring makes a substantial contribution to increased availability.

Integrated support for shift handover

Daily shift handover can be performed very efficiently if it is managed electronically and intelligently. SPPA-T3000 Cue features an integrated support function for this workflow. It allows going through the five basic displays: plant overview, alarm sequence display with open alarms, shift schedule with resources, pending repairs, and open tasks. Operators can then load the tasks onto the task list for the following shift at the click of a mouse. This gapless flow of information saves time and promotes safety and reliability.

Flexible connectivity is a key characteristic of SPPA-T3000 Cue, supporting common standards in industrial communication as well as future-oriented IEC standards.

Traditional control systems based on proprietary protocols can be connected to the HMI, and individual HTML or RDP applications can be accessed within the operator’s work environment.

Constantly up to date – over the entire lifetime of the power station

Power producers can benefit from control system migrations and future upgrades. SPPA-T3000 Cue comes as a Long-term Service Release and will be part of all of Siemens’ new power generation control solutions.

It can also be integrated or retrofitted to existing control systems. By supporting operators with the right tools, targeted cues, and guided procedures for sound operation, SPPA-T3000 Cue provides the platform for improved power plant performance.

Dr. Dirk Lumma
Head of Product Management
for Control Systems
Siemens Power and Gas Division



With a broad spectrum of innovative products and services, Siemens is one of the leading service partners for ensuring high reliability and optimal performance of rotating power equipment within the utility, oil & gas, and industrial processing industries worldwide.

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