Field-mountable RTU controller offers high availability

Paul Boughton

GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, a unit of GE Enterprise Solutions, is introducing its new PAC8000 RTU (remote terminal unit) controller, a rugged, field-mountable platform. Combined with the 8000 Process I/O, it offers flexible system design and high system availability. A PAC8000 RTU control system can utilise any off-the-shelf HMI package, including Proficy HMI/Scada Ifix and Cimplicity.

The PAC8000 RTU Controller is suitable for all types of RTU applications, including oil and gas pipelines and wellheads. It is designed for use in harsh environments, operating over a temperature range of -40 to +70 degrees C, and is resistant to 30 'g' shock, 5 'g' vibration and G3 corrosive environments. Access to timely and accurate mission-critical information from fixed assets such as oil and gas wells, compressor stations, pipelines, fluid storage tanks and utility meters can eliminate critical gaps in oil and gas operations, resulting in higher productivity and long-term growth. The PAC8000 RTU's relative low power makes it suitable for applications using solar power.

Jim Leatherby, product manager for GE Fanuc's RTU products, comments: "With increasing pressure to improve operational performance, meet environmental specifications and overcome rising energy costs, oil and gas operations must efficiently monitor and control entire processes across local and remote locations. The PAC8000 RTU solution enables oil and gas customers to easily monitor, diagnose and maintain utility assets - even in the most hazardous environments."

The PAC8000 RTU controller engineering software takes advantage of Microsoft Windows-based object-oriented technology, graphical user interfaces and intuitive software to reduce engineering time. It executes control strategies and manages all control activities for the I/O modules providing a tight control loop response, quickly giving a control output in response to input data. It also incorporates a rigorous redundancy model, Hart capability and a fault-tolerant Ethernet implementation to manage communications on the control network and deliver reliable operation.

Furthermore, the PAC8000 RTU supports the industry-standard DNP3 Ethernet communication protocol as well as the five IEC 61131-3 automation languages. Any combination of ladder diagram (LD), sequential function chart (SFC), function block diagram (FBD), structured text (ST), instruction list (IL), plus flow chart can be used to develop, download, simulate, debug, monitor and edit application programs.

Redundant controllers can be used for critical applications where the redundant controller pair operates in parallel, checking status multiple times through the processing loop and enabling the backup controller to monitor continuously the health of the master controller. It ensures a rapid and bumpless transfer to the standby controller.

In addition to controller redundancy, the PAC8000 RTU controller has two high-speed Ethernet ports to provide fault-tolerant communication. The RTU supports fault tolerant communications to the Control Room Scada; however, in the event of communications being lost, the RTU can continue to operate autonomously or adopt a user-defined safe state. If the RTU continues to operate, data will be logged for transmission once communications have been restored. The control programs are held in non-volatile memory so they are retained in the event of a power loss. A new control program can be downloaded to a controller while the existing program is still operating. When the download is complete, the controller will automatically switch to the new program without operation interruption.

The PAC8000 RTU is designed to operate in Class I, Division 2 and Zone 2 hazardous areas and can control I/O modules that have field wiring extending into more hazardous Division 1, Zone 1 and Zone 0 areas.

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