SCHUBERT WEB CONTROL OPENS UP NEW PERSPECTIVES FOR SMALL-SCALE HYDROPOWER

Autor: Roland Gruber , 12.12.2016

Schubert Web Control is an automation solution that will be of great interest to operators of small-scale hydropower plants and is on the verge of being launched on the market.

The power plant remote control system, which has been developed over many years, is aimed specifically at plants in the lower output range. As well as being very easy to operate and offering a high level of functionality, the solution is also noted for its efficiency and future viability.

It was regarded for a long time as a golden rule for operators of small-scale hydropower plants: You can only really enjoy smooth operation of the plant if you actually have a physical presence in the powerhouse. This is true primarily of older power plants, which are still equipped with an analogue control system, and plants that do not offer the possibility of remote access. With Schubert Web Control, which is currently completing its final trials and launched on the market at the beginning of the 2nd quarter of 2016, this is now set to fundamentally change.

EFFICIENT AND RESPONSIVE
Schubert Web Control was developed working in close collaboration with power plant operators. The leading role was played here by the control and software specialists from „ACC”, a brand of Schubert Elektroanlagen. Over several years of development work, the team successfully managed to develop an integrated monitoring and control module which is also affordable for small-scale and micro-scale plants and leaves nothing to be desired in terms of its user-friendliness. The new product offers owners of power plants a whole series of benefits that enable them to monitor the entire power generation process online. At the same time, switching operations can also be performed if necessary from the particular display device – whether it be a desktop PC, tablet or smartphone. This means that on the one hand the response speed is increased, and on the other hand the number of trips to the plant can also be reduced to an acceptable minimum.

USER-FRIENDLY AND EQUIPPED FOR THE FUTURE
Great priority was attached to ensuring the highest possible level of user-friendliness when developing Schubert Web Control. The intuitive input interface on the particular terminal is designed around the needs of the user and the way it works is self-explanatory. „Responsive design” ensures an optimum resolution and alignment of the display device which is used. This means that the control software is displayed in a standard form on all input devices, whether it be a smartphone, PC or tablet. By using modern programming standards such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, the software is also ideally equipped to handle future updates. At the same time, the SSL encryption of the data creates a secure connection and protects against any digital access by unauthorised people. The Schubert Web Control hardware only takes up a small amount of space and this means it is also suitable for installation in confined space conditions. The electronic components of the control system are protected by a robust metal housing, which means the system can be positioned both indoors and outdoors.

INTERVIEW WITH SCHUBERT GROUP LEADER CHRISTIAN SCHWARZENBOHLER
Engineer Christian Schwarzenbohler, group leader in the small-scale hydropower plants division of Schubert Elektroanlagen GmbH, answers the most important questions about the „Schubert Web Control” automation solution in an interview with zek.

WHAT MAKES SCHUBERT WEB CONTROL PARTICULARLY ATTRACTIVE TO PLANT OPERATORS?
The power plant operator’s communication medium – such as a smartphone or tablet – supplies the most important information to the operator 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Details such as plant in operation, fault, power value, level value, remote switching, etc. In addition, the measured values are stored for 14 days and thus guarantee continuous monitoring.

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR THE DEVELOPERS?
Stabilising the data connection over a communication interface which is not always available.

WHICH ASPECTS WAS PARTICULAR IMPORTANCE ATTACHED IN DESIGNING THE CONTROL SOFTWARE?
First of all, definitely the area of functionality, which means a user interface that is as intuitive as possible and is easy to operate. Secondly, the future viability of the software, which we achieved by using the latest programming standards.

WHAT BASIC TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS NEED TO BE PUT IN PLACE ON SITE BY PLANT OPERATORS TO BE ABLE TO USE THE SCHUBERT CONTROL TECHNOLOGY?
Schubert Web Control has allocated defined data with which it operates. This data must be applied to terminals (defined interfaces) and can then be transferred to the Web Control via a cable connection. A mobile network with a packet data connection (GPRS/UMTS) or an internet connection must exist. For the plant operator to be able to use Schubert Web Control, all that is required is access to a smartphone, PC or tablet.

CAN SCHUBERT WEB CONTROL ALSO BE INTEGRATED INTO OLD EXISTING PLANTS?
Yes, we looked for a possible way of offering the operators of older plants which are still equipped with analogue electrical engineering systems an inexpensive solution enabling remote access to their plant without any need for major modifications. The installation can even be carried out by a specialist, for example a local electrician. No specific technical knowledge is required to do this.

IS A FIXED INTERNET CONNECTION AT THE POWER PLANT SITE REQUIRED TO USE THE SOFTWARE?
No, this is not required – the data can also be sent via GPRS/UMTS.

CAN A HYDROPOWER PLANT BE COMPLETELY REMOTELY CONTROLLED BY USING SCHUBERT WEB CONTROL?
In designing the software, we limited ourselves to the “must-haves” of a plant. What this means is, as far as conventional operation is concerned, the plant can be monitored and operated remotely. But if the operator of the plant wants to switch operations, this must still be done on site as previously. Troubleshooting can also only be carried out on site when the plant is at a standstill.

DOES SCHUBERT WEB CONTROL WORK ON ALL CUSTOMARY OPERATING SYSTEMS (MICROSOFT, APPLE, ANDROID)?
As Schubert Web Control has a browserbased structure, it is independent of any operating systems and is therefore compatible with the customary operating systems.

WILL THE SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE BE OFFERED IN DIFFERENT VERSIONS OR DESIGNS?
Within the framework of the technical specification, the hardware can be adapted to cater for the customer’s needs. The software will be distributed as an “all-in-one package” in the standard version.

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Operators have the option of accessing their plant via tablet, smartphone or desktop PC.

photo credits: Schubert

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DI (FH) Gerhard Dietrich from ACC, a brand of Schubert Elektroanlagen Ges.m.b.H, presents the result of many years of development work: Schubert Web Control.

photo credits: Schubert

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„Responsive design” ensures optimum display and operation on all input devices for the control software.

photo credits: Schubert

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Engineer Christian Schwarzenbohler was heavily involved in the development of Schubert Web Control in his role as group leader in the small-scale hydropower plants division.

photo credits: Schubert

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The Schubert Web Control hardware is concealed in a compact housing.

photo credits: Schubert

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Continuous monitoring: All of the relevant measured values for a plant are automatically saved for 14 days.

photo credits: Schubert