One of the biggest technical challenges ABB faced with this project was automating the collection of well data. The project called for between 1,000 and 1,500 well sites to come online in 2014, and beyond 6,000 by 2030, over an area of more than 4,500 km². Each of these wells have between 50 and 70 data points being scanned on a 30-second cycle time. With several new wells being introduced every day, ABB needed to be able to bring them on and off line in a highly streamlined and efficient manner; furthermore, the method of configuring them needed to be simple, fast, and very reliable. It also needed to be able to reliably retrieve vast amounts of data from distant locations. All this meant that the automation of data collection was a huge undertaking, since the project infrastructure was immense and constantly in flux. To handle these requirements, ABB needed an automated communications platform that was highly reliable and that could easily scale and communicate massive amounts of data back for visualization and long-term storage in an enterprise historian.
With over a century of rich experience through its founding companies, ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies. Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, the company employs over 140,000 people and operates in approximately 100 countries around the globe.
After an exhaustive review of data communications solutions, ABB selected Kepware’s KEPServerEX as the best choice to handle the high demands of the groundbreaking project. With over 150 drivers and a single, consistent interface, KEPServerEX provides ABB with all the connectivity tools it requires in an easy-to-use package. In conjunction with ABB’s flagship 800xA Integrated Control and Safety System (ICSS), KEPServerEX allows ABB to add multiple OPC drivers within a single communications platform without worrying about learning new communications protocols or spending time understanding new applications. KEPServerEX includes a library of over 150 PLC, RTU, and other device-type drivers, as well as database and application-specific drivers. Of particular value to ABB was Kepware’s Modbus TCP/IP Ethernet Driver, which provides data exchange between OPC clients and Modbus protocol compliant controllers. In order to overcome the difficulties involved in the rapidly expanding infrastructure, ABB made extensive use of the ability to import and export KEPServerEX configuration information in an easy-to-understand XML format. By developing a tool that could create a full configuration XML file to match the configuration within the ICSS, updating the KEPServerEX configuration to the current ICSS configuration took mere minutes and was completely reliable. In addition, Kepware’s Advanced Tags Plug-In was essential for centralized data processing by the communications server, ensuring that all the data efficiently arrived where it should, when it should, and in the form it should.