Applied Integration engineers ensure a safe landing!

Posted on July 3, 2015

In April this year a team of Applied Integration engineers worked alongside ABB in order to complete a project delivering an emergency power management system for Marsh & McLennan at their Exeter based datacentre. Marsh & McLennan Companies are a multinational professional services firm providing advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and human capital. The company was founded over 140 years ago and have accredited their growth to the ability to help clients anticipate and meet the challenges of changing times and technologies.

Regarding the Exeter datacentre; MMC provide pre-flight insurance policies for every airport in the United Kingdom, as well as a number of their US counterparts. Prior to take-off, an airline must issue a document to the datacentre detailing vital flight information before the aircraft can be approved to fly.  Information such as the number of passengers on board, baggage count and aircraft weight must all be recorded and sent to the datacentre before being returned with the necessary paperwork required for take-off. As no plane may leave the runway without such documentation; this is a critical operation that could be badly affected by loss of power, having significant ‘knock-on’ effects to air travel across the globe.

Applied Integration were then scoped with the design, build, testing, installation and commissioning of a power management control system that had no single point of failure, as well as allowing one of three backup generators to supply the facility with power should there ever be a failure to the main system.

Applied Integration’s senior engineers selected the Siemens S7-400 PLC system in a high availability system configuration utilising dual redundant PLC processors. This is where one processor assumes the role of master whilst the other is in standby. In the case of the master PLC failing the standby will take control in less than a second, ensuring high system availability.

The S7-400 PLC configuration was connected to dual redundant I/O which duplicates every I/O point being measured by the system giving resilience to I/O point or card failure.

Two HMIs were also provided to ensure fault tolerance at HMI level. All of the equipment was then connected over a fault tolerant Ethernet ring network.

Applied Integration worked alongside all parties to ensure that all failure scenarios had been captured, before developing an extensive test document to ensure that all failure modes including negative paths could be 100% functionally tested in the factory prior to delivery, thus assuring the customer the highest degree of confidence in the system. This was a key aspect of the project; as the installation period was limited to 24 hours.

The engineers here at Applied Integration then brought to the fore their extensive experience in the delivery of high availability systems to industry, both producing and fully testing the system to the client’s satisfaction.

Following this an hour-by-hour commissioning plan was provided to allow progress tracking. Our installation team then worked late into the night to ensure that the system was made operable in the allowed timeframe and to the end customer’s satisfaction. A member of our engineering team then remained on site for ten days in order to provide support and training to the end customer’s maintenance team.

The project was completed on time with a very a fast turnaround period of only four months, meaning all parties were left happy at the end of the project.


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