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The corporate technical journal of the ABB Group

2 / 2006

system technologies
Canned solutions
A revolution in high dc current Trends in embedded systems page 9 measurement
page 6

Pioneering Embedded spirits

Team-mates: MultiMove functionality heralds Wireless sensor networks page 39 a new era in robot applications
page 26

Best power lines sing Makinginnovations 2004

page 43 50

Tin cans have firmly established themselves as the medium of choice for shipping and storing a broad range of products. An important part of this success story is their simplicity. If an opening-tool is needed at all, it is the modest and universally compatible can-opener. Computer systems have long been the antithesis of this. Even simple tasks called for specialist skills. Not so for embedded systems! Here, the computer is usually contained within the device it controls and reacts directly to relevant events. In the extreme, it blends in so well that nobody knows its there until they take a peek inside.


Embedded system technologies

Embedded, Everywhere is the title of a research agenda published in 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences in the USA. This agenda highlighted the importance the scientific community attached to research in the field of embedded computers. Embedded intelligent devices are today, five years later, pervasive and estimated to be more numerous than people on earth. By 2010, at least three embedded computers will exist for every living person. That equals 16 billion machines, growing to 40 billion by 2020. The European Union is currently formulating a major initiative covering research into the next generation of embedded device technologies, which will focus on the interaction between embedded networks. ARTEMIS1), as the program is called, rallies industries and academia to lead the development efforts, backed by funding from national governments and the EU. Asia is equally aware of the significance of embedded technologies for future economic growth and prosperity. Government-backed programs exist in Japan, Korea and China, each with its own flavor and emphasis. All these regional and national programs are driving towards the pervasive use of embedded devices in a multitude of applications across industries and large infrastructures, health and entertainment, fixed and mobile networks. So what is this technology all about, and how do we, in ABB, use it? What challenges lie ahead? Where is the technology going? This issue of ABB Review focuses on exactly these questions, and finds answers in almost all areas of ABBs research and development. Embedded computers have been around for some decades already. Their tasks have been restricted primarily to autonomous applications and small networks involving limited interaction with humans. The term embedded refers to the nature of these tasks, which are mostly related to dedicated background functions that escape human awareness (as long as the tasks are performed correctly). For example, a modern car has well over 20 embedded computers taking care of systems for brakes, comfort, engine control etc. The next step foreseen for these embedded devices is their full membership of sensor-based networks as intelligent and communicative systems that are not only capable of exchanging information among themselves, but also between different networks. The exponential increase in complexity compared to our current level of capability defines a technology gap, which we now have to find ways of bridging, hence the importance of initiatives like ARTEMIS in Europe and its counterparts in the USA and Asia. Two guest-authors in this issue of ABB Review introduce the topic of embedded technologies to our readers. Dr. Kostas Glinos, of the European Commission, describes in the first article the importance the EU is attaching to this technology, and presents the ARTEMIS initiative in some detail. The second lead story is by Dr. Richard Zurawski, president of the ISA Group based in St Clara, California. He looks more carefully at the state of embedded hardware and software technologies and where the trends seem to be leading. A review of how ABB uses embedded systems in its own product portfolio completes the overview section. Several applications of embedded systems are described next. This set of articles cover a wide range of products with enhanced customer benefits, which originate from the incorporation of embedded technologies already in the initial design-phase. The next section is devoted to a broad spectrum of communication capabilities of embedded devices. Wireless communication and industrial Ethernet, fieldbus and powerline carrier are just a few examples that illustrate how ABB can support information exchange on different levels and over different media. The last two sections of this issue of ABB Review describe software and hardware implementations. The breadth of technologies required to bring performance benefits to our customers is remarkable. Maintaining up-todate knowledge in a number of rapidly changing fields as wide apart as low power applications to software generation and verification, from advanced signal processing to FPGA technologies is a great challenge for our global research and development teams. But then, tackling such challenges is why researchers love research in the first place. Enjoy your reading

Peter Terwiesch Chief Technology Officer ABB Ltd.


ARTEMIS stands for Advanced Research & Technology for Embedded Intelligece and Systems

ABB Review 2/2006


ABB Review 2/2006 Embedded system technologies

Embedded system technologies

6 The challenge of embedded systems
Managing the revolution in embedded digital technologies, one of the fastest growing sectors in IT today.

30 Embedded systems extend automation

System 800XA incorporates a multitude of embedded devices.

9 Trends in Embedded Systems

Opportunities and challenges for System-on-Chip and Networked Embedded Systems technologies in industrial automation.

35 DriveMonitor
New lifecycle management software with its finger on the systems pulse.

14 Embedded system technology in ABB

Current and future challenges. Advances in performance and functionality, with reductions in cost and size, present developers with new challenges.

39 Wireless sensor networks

Introducing wireless sensor networks to the world of industrial automation.

43 High-performance Ethernet
ABB broadens its range of Ethernet-compatible devices to enhance communication.

18 Embedded power protection

Enhanced embedded applications in power system automation handle protection aspects alongside many additional dedicated applications.

46 Fieldbuses for drives

Advanced fieldbuses are improving drive connectivity.

23 Drivers of change
Why the DTC drive controller from ABB is fast becoming the torque of the town.

48 Motor medical
Boosting a motors productivity by watching its health.

26 Roll and control

What do a lightweight train and a rolling-mill have in common? The fast and flexible AC800 PEC plays a big role in their control!

50 Making power lines sing

Putting more power into communications ABBs ETL600 transmits information across power lines.

ABB Review 2/2006


54 Bright ideas
Product development processes in ABBs distribution automation business benefit from international cooperation.

58 Do-it-yourself robotics
The FlexPendant software development kit brings user-friendly robot programming to the desktop.


62 Design patterns
How ABB created the AC800 PEC controller

66 Wireless power in wireless products

Fewer flexes, more flexibility. Bringing wireless power to devices in hard-to-reach places cuts installation costs and presents new opportunities for distributed electronic devices.


70 Coming of age
FPGAs bridge the gap between hard- and software.

75 Signal processing in embedded systems

New algorithms for device-level instrumentation enhance performance and extend functionality.

ABB Review 2/2006 5

The challenge of embedded systems

Kostas Glinos What do a mobile phone, an industrial robot, a cable modem, an MP3 player, and a car have in common? They are all examples of products that use embedded systems. In fact, embedded technologies are one of the fastest growing sectors in IT today. However, increasing pressure to bring innovative products to the market ever faster and at ever diminishing prices means that guaranteeing product quality, while reducing the cost, development time and system complexity, has become a tough challenge. Europe is considered a world leader in embedded technologies for the aerospace, automotive, industrial, communication and consumer electronics industries. However, this leading position is threatened by global competition, fragmentation and lack of coordination across these industry sectors. Maintaining a leading position in embedded systems technology will require significant and appropriately targeted investment in research and development. To address these issues, the European Commission has facilitated the development of an initiative called ARTEMIS. ARTEMIS is a broad alliance of industrial and research players in the field of embedded system technologies. The ARTEMIS partnership draws upon many industrial sectors, including automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, communications, medical and manufacturing, where European industry remains strong.

n a space of less than four decades, digital information technology has totally revolutionized the world in which we live. It has evolved from mainframe computers mainly operated as hosts in computing centers to the networked desktops and laptops we know today. Our everyday business and home life is deeply affected by this extensive digital infrastructure: from keeping in contact with friends and relatives around the world, to staying in business in a globalized and highly competitive market. Computers have become everyday tools, deeply integrated into all kinds of social and business activities.

More remarkable, however, is the less visible revolution in embedded digital technology. Embedded digital technology is found in all kinds of equipment and systems, and is used to increase functionality, as well as to improve operation at low cost. Indeed, embedded computers are now found in almost all technical devices, from simple everyday home appliances, to facilities and facility management such as heating, air conditioning, elevators and escalators, and in production units from robotics to production automation and control systems. They are also used extensive-

ly in medicine, in particular in diagnostic medical equipment, and in the increasing variety of intelligent devices that are implanted into the human body. Transportation is another area that has seen a rapid proliferation of embedded systems, be it cars, trucks, trains or airplanes. The numbers are staggering: it is estimated that more than 90 percent of all computing devices are to be found in embedded rather than in desktop systems. In terms of market value, for example, the automotive sector alone accounts for about 5 percent of the
ABB Review 2/2006

Courtesy Airbus

The challenge of embedded systems

Embedded system technologies

ARTEMIS European joint technology initiative for embedded systems

opments are still sector-specific, there are significant synergies between sectors that should be exploited. And engineers with the appropriate skills in, for example, system architecture, are in short supply. These problems must be overcome. For its part, European industry is expected to invest more than N 22 billion per annum in embedded systems research and development by 20091). This is almost double what it invested in 2003. Because of the above research and industrial challenges, and the importance of embedded systems technology for key industrial sectors (from industrial automation and medical equipment to automotive and avionics), the European Commission has devoted a specific part of its Information Society Technologies (IST) program to embedded systems research. In the last three years alone, it has invested N 140 million in collaborative projects between industry, academia and research centers. These projects focus largely on systems design, safety-critical systems, embedded computing, middleware platforms, wireless sensor networks, and distributed and hybrid control systems. Embedded systems are also one of the six pillars of ICT research in the European Commissions proposals for the 7th Framework Programme, due to start in 2007. In 2004, the Technology Platform ARTEMIS (Advanced Research and Technology for EMbedded Intelligence and Systems) was set up. ARTEMIS is an industry-led initiative to reinforce the EUs position as a leading global player in the design, integration and supply of embedded systems2). Its manifesto, entitled Building ARTEMIS, was signed by 20 executives from various EU companies, and is aimed at establishing and implementing a coherent and integrated European strategy for embedded systems that covers aspects from research and development priorities, and the research infrastructures needed, to the

standardization policy as well as the educational curricula. This strategy has been recently published as the ARTEMIS Strategic Research Agenda. The driving force behind ARTEMIS is the vision of a society where all systems, machines, and objects have become digital, communicating, selfmanaged resources. These transformations are possible through advances in embedded systems technologies and their large-scale deployment, not only in industry and services, but in all areas of human activity. Such developments have a range of important consequences for society and the economy: Life in our society and its safety and security will depend increasingly on embedded systems. The competitiveness of European industries, in almost all sectors, will
Music center courtesy Nokia

world semiconductor market (approximately N 200 billion in 2005). What is even more striking is how embedded systems are increasing the value of many products. For example, embedded systems now account for 20 percent of the total value of an average car and this is expected to increase to 36 percent in 2009. In the same year, embedded electronics and software will constitute 22 percent of the value of industrial automation systems, 41 percent of consumer electronics and 33 percent of medical equipment. The growth rate is currently exceeding 10 percent per annum in all application sectors, and by 2020, it is predicted that there will be over 40 billion embedded chips worldwide. Thanks to significant advances in semiconductor technology which is itself driven by customer demands for innovative products and services, with increasing functionality at ever diminishing prices embedded systems have evolved from the simple standalone, single-processor type computers of the 1980s and early 1990s, to the sophisticated multi-processor systems in use today. The downside, however, is that systems are becoming ever more complex and harder to design, test and verify. As these systems are themselves becoming more interconnected, they are also becoming more vulnerable. True interoperability is hampered by the lack of common open standards and appropriate middleware. While many of the develABB Review 2/2006

A380 cockpit courtesy Airbus

FAST Study on Worldwide Trends and R&D Programmes in Embedded Systems in view of maximising the impact of a Technology Platform in the area


The challenge of embedded systems

Embedded system technologies

Concept car courtesy DaimlerChrysler

Ambient room courtesy Philips

Embedded components

rely on innovation capabilities in the area of embedded systems. Given the dramatically increasing importance of embedded systems to productivity growth, these technologies will be critically important in redressing the present imbalance in productivity growth between Europe, the US and Asia. Maintaining a leading position in embedded systems technology will require significant investment in research and development that is focused on specific joint priorities. While tackling the R&D challenges is necessary it is not, on its own sufficient. ARTEMIS will facilitate and stimulate European success in embedded systems by establishing an environment supportive of innovation, in which both co-operation and competition in technological development are enhanced. It will also proactively stimulate the emergence of a new
Industrial robot courtesy ABB

supply industry for components, tools and design methodologies, supporting embedded systems, and focus research and development to make more effective use of resources to avoid fragmentation and facilitate deployment.

Embedded digital technology is found in all kinds of equipment and systems, and is used to increase functionality, as well as to improve operation at low cost.
While custom-designed embedded systems add high value for customers, and individual projects and products may be highly profitable, the markets themselves are highly fragmented. Traditionally, this has led to the fragmentation of both the supply industry and R&D investment. The ARTEMIS strategy was conceived to overcome this fragmentation so as to increase the efficiency of technological development and, at the same time, facilitate the establishment of a competitive market in the supply of technologies.

The conception, design and deployment of customized systems will add even greater value to most products and services in the future Information Society. Over the last few decades, Europe has been strong in this area, most notably with successes in mobile phones, bespoke systems for transport and aerospace, and industrial engineering. ARTEMIS aims to derive maximum benefit from Europes strengths, while being cognizant of the strengths of global competitors. The ARTEMIS approach will remove barriers between application sectors, thus stimulating creativity and yielding multi-domain reusable results. I strongly believe that by creating an environment that favors and supports innovation in embedded systems and by focusing our research and development resources to achieve common and ambitious objectives, we will not only maximize our impact in terms of industrial competitiveness, but we will also improve the quality of life, safety and security of people. Success in this endeavor can be achieved only if all parties public or private, industrial or academic work closely together and remain committed to their common objectives. Rapid progress in this direction over the past year makes me confident that this will indeed be the case and that this collective effort will be successful.

Kostas Glinos
Kostas Glinos has been with the European Commission since 1992. He now leads the Embedded Systems unit of the IST Program. Before joining the Commission he worked with multinational companies and research institutes in the US, Greece and Belgium. He holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and a Masters in financial management.

Kostas Glinos European Commission

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official view of the European Commission on the subject.

ABB Review 2/2006

Trends in embedded systems

Opportunities and challenges for System-on-Chip and Networked Embedded Systems technologies in industrial automation
Grant Martin, Richard Zurawski

Courtesy Philips

Advances in process technology and the availability of new design tools are broadening the scope of embedded systems; from being implemented as a set of chips on a board, to a set of modules in an integrated circuit. System-on-Chip (SoC) technology is now being deployed in industrial automation, enabling the creation of complex field-area intelligent devices. This trend is accompanied by the adoption of platform-based design, which facilitates the design and verification of complex SoC through the extensive re-use of hardware and software IP (intellectual property). A further important aspect of the evolution of embedded systems is the trend towards networking of embedded nodes using specialized network technologies, frequently referred to as Networked Embedded Systems (NES).

ABB Review 2/2006

Trends in embedded systems

Embedded system technologies

ystem-on-Chip (SoC) represents a revolution in integrated circuit (IC) design, enabled by advances in process technology, which allow the integration of the main components and subsystems of an electronic product onto a single chip or integrated chipset [1]. This development has been embraced by designers of complex chips because it permits the highest possible level of integration, resulting in increased performance, reduced power consumption, and advantages in terms of cost and size. These are very important factors in the design process, and the use of SoC is arguably one of the key decisions in developing real-time embedded systems. SoC can be defined as a complex integrated circuit, or integrated chipset, that combines the main functional elements or subsystems of a complete end product in a single entity. Nowadays, the most challenging SoC de1

signs include at least one programmable processor, and very often a combination of at least one RISC (reduced instruction set computing) control processor and one digital signal processor (DSP). They also include on-chip communications structures processor bus(es), peripheral bus(es) and sometimes a high-speed system bus. A hierarchy of on-chip memory units, as well as links to off-chip memory, is especially important for SoC processors. For most signal-processing applications, some degree of hardwarebased accelerating functional unit is provided, offering higher performance and lower energy consumption. For interfacing to the external world, SoC design includes a number of peripheral processing blocks consisting of analogue components as well as digital interfaces (for example, to system buses at board or backplane level). Future SoC may incorporate MEMS-based (microelectro-mechanical system) sen-

sors and actuators, or chemical processing (lab-on-a-chip) 1 . All interesting SoC designs comprise both hardware and software components. These include programmable processors, real-time operating systems, and other elements of hardwaredependent software. Thus, the design and use of SoCs not only concerns hardware it also involves systemlevel design and engineering, hardwaresoftware tradeoffs and partitioning, and software architecture, design and implementation.

A typical SoC device for consumer applications

External memory access

Recently, the scope of SoC has broadened. From implementations using custom IC, application specific IC (ASIC) or application-specific standard part (ASSP), the approach now includes the design and use of complex reconfigurable logic parts with embedded processors. In addition other application-oriented blocks of intellectual property, such as processors, memories, or special purpose functions bought from third parties are incorporated into unique designs. These complex FPGAs (Field-Programmable Gate Arrays) are offered by several vendors, including Xilinx (Virtex-II PRO Platform FPGA, Virtex-IV) and Altera (SOPC). The guiding principle behind this approach to SoC is to combine large amounts of reconfigurable logic with embedded RISC processors, in order to enable highly flexible and tailorable combinations of hardware and software processing to be applied to a design problem. Algorithms that contain significant amounts of control logic, plus large quantities of dataflow processing, can be partitioned into the control RISC processor with reconfigurable logic for hardware acceleration. Although the resulting combination does not offer the highest performance, lowest energy consumption, or lowest cost in comparison with custom IC or ASIC/ASSP implementations of the same functionality it does offer enormous flexibility in modifying the design in the field, and avoids expensive NonRecurring Engineering (NRE) costs associated with field changes. Thus, new applications, interfaces and improved algorithms can be downloaded to products already working in the field.
ABB Review 2/2006








System bus





Peripheral bus PLL


MPEG decode


Video I/F


Disk controller Bus bridge


100 base-T


Trends in embedded systems

Embedded system technologies

Products in this area also include other processing and interface cores: these consist of multiplyaccumulate (MAC) blocks aimed at DSP-type dataflow signal- and image processing applications, and high-speed serial interfaces for wired communications such as SERDES (serializer/de-serializer) blocks. In this sense, system-on-aprogrammable-chip SoCs are not exactly application-specific, but not completely generic either.

Tensilicas LX processor Base ISA feature Optional and configurable Configurable functions Designer-defined feature (TIE) Optional function

Instruction fetch/decode

Processor controls Trace/JTAG/OCD

Designer-defined FLIX parallel execution pipelines "N" wide

Base ISA execution pipeline

Interrupts, breakpoints, timers

Register file User-defined execution units, register files and interfaces User-defined execution units, register riles and interfaces Base ALU

Local instruction memories

The guiding principle behind this approach to SoC is to combine large amounts of reconfigurable logic with embedded RISC processors.
It remains to be seen whether systemon-a-programmable chip SoCs will be successful in delivering high-volume consumer applications, or whether they will be restricted to two main areas: Rapid prototyping of designs that will be re-targeted to ASIC or ASSP implementations; and high-end, relatively expensive elements of the communications infrastructure that require in-field flexibility, and which can afford the higher levels of cost and energy consumption in combination with reduced performance. Intermediate forms, such as the use of metal-programmable gate-array style logic fabrics, together with hard-core processor subsystems and other cores as provided in the Structured ASIC offerings of LSI Logic (RapidChip) and NEC (Instant Silicon Solutions Platform) represents an intermediate form of SoC between the full-mask approach and the field-programmable gate-array approach. Specific tradeoffs here are much slower design creation (a few weeks rather than a day or so); higher non-recurring engineering than FPGA (but much lower than a full set of masks); and better cost, performance and energy consumption than FPGA (perhaps only 1530 percent worse than an ASIC approach). Further interesting hybrid approaches, such as ASIC/ASSP with on-chip FPGA regions, are also emerging to give design teams more choices. A final
ABB Review 2/2006

Userdefined queues/ ports up to 1M pins

Optional execution units

External bus interface

Processor interface (PIF) to system bus

User-defined execution unit Vectra LX DSP engine

Local data memories

Load/store unit #2

Data load/store unit

Xtensa local memory interface

interesting variation is a combination of a configurable processor, which is implemented partly in fixed silicon, together with an FPGA region, which is used for instruction extensions and other hardware implementations in the field. Stretch Inc., a semiconductor company, for example, uses the Tensilica configurable processor to implement this type of platform SoC 2 .
Platforms and Programmable Platforms

Recent years have seen a more integrated approach to the design of complex SoC and the re-use of virtual components this is called platform-based design [1, 2]. Platform-based design can be defined as a planned design methodology that reduces the time and effort required as well as the risk involved in designing and verifying a complex SoC. This is accomplished by extensive re-use of combinations of hardware [3] and software [4] IP. In contrast to IP re-use in a block-byblock manner, platform-based design assembles groups of components into a re-usable platform architecture. This re-usable architecture, together with libraries of pre-verified and pre-characterized, application-oriented hardware and software virtual components, constitutes a SoC integration platform.

There are several reasons for the growing popularity of the platform approach in industrial design. These include the increase in design productivity, the reduction in risk, the ability to utilize pre-integrated virtual components from other design domains more easily, and the ability to re-use SoC architectures created by experts. Industrial platforms include full application platforms for specific product areas, such as Philips Nexperia and TI OMAP [5], reconfigurable SOPC platforms, and processor-centric platforms. Processor-centric platforms such as those using multiple Tensilicaconfigured, extended processors, or ARM PrimeXsys concentrate on the processor, its required bus architecture and basic sets of peripherals, along with RTOS (real-time operating systems) and basic software drivers. Platform FPGAs and SOPC devices can be thought of as a meta-platform; that is, a platform for creating platforms. These devices contain a basic set of more generic capabilities and IP embedded processors, on-chip buses, special IP blocks such as MACs and SERDES, and a variety of other pre-qualified IP blocks. Design teams can obtain such devices from companies like Xilinx and

Trends in embedded systems

Embedded system technologies

Altera, and then customize the metaplatform to their own application space by adding application domain-specific IP libraries. This can then be delivered to derivative design teams.
Networked Embedded Systems

Another important facet of the evolution of embedded systems is the emergence of distributed embedded systems, frequently termed networked embedded systems, where the word networked signifies the importance of the networking infrastructure and communication protocol. A networked embedded system is a collection of spatially and functionally distributed embedded nodes, interconnected by means of wireline and/or wireless communication infrastructure and protocols, and interacting with the environment (via sensor/actuator elements) and each other. Within the system, a master node can also be included to coordinate computing and communication, in order to achieve specific objectives. Controllers embedded in nodes or field devices, such as sensors and actuators typically provide on-chip signal conversion, data and signal processing, and communication functions. The ever-increasing functionality, processing and communication capabilities of controllers have been instrumental in the emergence of a widespread trend for the networking of field devices around specialized networks, frequently referred to as field area networks. (A field area network is normally a digital, two-way,

multi-drop communication link [6].) In general, the benefits of using specialized (field area) networks are numerous and include: increased flexibility through combining embedded hardware and software; improved system performance; and ease of system installation, upgrade, and maintenance.

Recent years have seen a more integrated approach to the design of complex SoC and the re-use of virtual components this is called platform-based design.
Networked embedded systems are present in a variety of application domains: for example; automotive, train, aircraft, office building and industrial primarily for monitoring and control. Representative examples of network embedded systems include networks connecting field devices such as sensors and actuators with field controllers; for instance, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in industrial automation or electronic control units (ECUs) in automotive applications. They are also used in man-machine interfaces; for example, in dashboard displays in cars and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) in industrial automation. The specialized network technologies employed are as diverse as the application areas. For instance: PROFIBUS,

PROFInet or EtherNet/IP (both supporting real-time communication) in industrial control and automation; LonWorks, BACnet, and EIB/KNX in building automation and control; CAN, TTP/C and FlexRay in automotive applications; and Train Communication Network (TCN) in train automation. The diversity of requirements imposed by different application domains (soft/ hard real-time, safety critical, network topology, and so forth) necessitated a variety of solutions, and the use of different protocols based on different operating principles. This has resulted in a plethora of networks developed for specific application domains [6] 3 . Because of the nature of the communication requirements imposed by applications, field area networks unlike local area networks (LANs) tend to have low data rates, small data packets, and typically require real-time capabilities, which may demand deterministic or time-bounded data transfer. However, data rates above 10 Mbit/s, typical of LANs, have become commonplace in field area networks. For field area networks employed in industrial automation (unlike in building automation and control) there is little need for routing functionality or endto-end control. As a consequence, only layers 11) (physical layer), 2 (data link layer, including implicitly the medium access control layer), and 7 (application layer, which also covers user layer) of the ISO/OSI reference model [7] are used in these networks. The need to guarantee a deterministic response requires the use of appropriate scheduling schemes, which are frequently implemented in application-domain specific real-time operating systems or custom-designed, bare-bone, real-time executives. The networked embedded systems used in safety-critical applications, such as x-by-wire, that adopt mechatronic solutions to replace mechanical or hydraulic solutions with electrical/ electronic systems must be highly dependable to ensure a failsafe system. Examples of such embedded

Typical field area network architecture in industrial automation Control network controller

Field area network (Fieldbus)

I/O modules



instrument motor

For a brief overview of the OSI model, see figure 1 on page 47.


ABB Review 2/2006

Trends in embedded systems

Embedded system technologies

systems include fly-by-wire in aeroplanes and steer-by-wire in automotive applications, where failure could endanger human life, property, or the environment. To avoid such risks, reliable, failsafe services must be delivered at the request of the system user. The dependability of x-by-wire systems is one of the main requirements, as well as a constraint on the adoption of this kind of system. Although the use of wireline-based field area networks is most common, wireless technology including wireline/wireless hybrid solutions offers incentives in a number of application areas. In industrial automation, for instance, wireless device (sensor/actuator) networks can provide support for mobile operation in the case of mobile robots and the monitoring and control of equipment in hazardous and difficult-to-access environments. A separate category is wireless sensor networks envisaged for monitoring purposes.
Opportunities and challenges in SoC and MPSoC

Growing power dissipation, resulting from the increase in density of integrated circuits and clock frequency, has a direct impact on the cost of packaging and cooling, as well as reliability and lifetime. These and other factors, such as battery-based power supply and device-restricted size (as in the case of hand-held devices), make designing for low power consumption a high priority for embedded systems. The design techniques and methodologies aimed at reducing both static and dynamic power dissipation tend to focus on the following areas: system/application level optimization, which explores task implementations exhibiting different power/energy versus quality-of-service characteristics; energy-efficient processing subsystems like voltage and frequency scaling, dynamic resource scaling, and processor core selection; and energyefficient memory subsystems, such as cache hierarchy tuning, novel horizontal and vertical cache partitioning schemes, as well as dynamic scaling of memory elements.

The relatively limited commercial bandwidth resources for computing, memory, and communication of embedded device controllers (eg, field devices in industrial automation) poses considerable challenges for the implementation of effective security policies, which, in general, are resource- demanding. This limits the applicability of the mainstream cryptographic protocols, even vendor-tailored versions. Operating systems running on small-footprint controllers tend to implement essential services only, and do not provide authentication or access control to protect mission- and safety-critical field devices. A growing demand for remote access to process data at factory-floor level may expose automation systems to potential electronic security attacks, which may compromise the integrity of these systems and endanger plant safety. The system/plant availability requirement may render the updating of security software in running field devices impractical or too risky.
Grant Martin Tensilica, USA Richard Zurawski

There are many opportunities arising from the efficient and error-free design of SoC, and in particular Multi-Processor System-on-Chip (MPSoC), which combines the advantages of parallel processing with the high integration capability of SoC. Other areas of interest include testing of embedded cores in SoC, power-aware computing, security in embedded systems, and development of safety-critical systems in the context of x-by-wire and various other applications [8]. Ever-increasing circuit densities and operating frequencies, as well as the use of system-on-chip designs, have resulted in enormous test-data volumes for todays embedded corebased integrated circuits. Reducing data volume and time are two of the main challenges in testing these kinds of circuits. Other problems include: the growing disparity between performance of the design and the automatic test equipment, which makes at-speed testing particularly of high-speed circuits a challenge, and results in increasing yield loss; high cost of manually developed functional tests; and a growing cost of high-speed and highpincount testers.
ABB Review 2/2006

Grant Martin
Grant Martin is Chief Scientist at Tensilica, Inc. He received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, Canada. He worked at Burroughs in Scotland, BNR/Nortel in Canada, and Cadence Design Systems in San Jose, California, prior to joining Tensilica in 2004.

ISA Group, USA

References [1] H. Chang, L. Cooke, M. Hunt, G. Martin, A. McNelly, L. Todd: Surviving the SoC Revolution: A Guide to Platform-Based Design. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999. [2] A. Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, G. Martin: PlatformBased Design and Software Design Methodology for Embedded Systems. IEEE Design and Test of Computers 18 (2001) 6, 2333. [3] M. Keating, P. Bricaud: Reuse Methodology Manu-

Richard Zurawski
Richard Zurawski is President of the ISA Group, San Francisco. He held executive positions with San Francisco Bay area companies, Kawasaki Electric, Tokyo, and was a professor at the Institute of Industrial Sciences, University of Tokyo. He is Editor of a book series on Industrial Information Technology, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. He holds an MSc in Electrical Engineering, and a PhD in Computer Science.

al for System-on-a-Chip Designs. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998 (First Edition), 1999 (Second Edition), 2002 (Third Edition). [4] G. Martin, C. Lennard: Invited CICC paper. Improving Embedded Software Design and Integration for SOCs. Custom Integrated Circuits Conference, May 2000, 101108. [5] G. Martin, H. Chang (Editors): Winning the SOC Revolution: Experiences in Real Design. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. [6] R. Zurawski (ed.): The Industrial Communication Systems, Special Issue. Proceedings of the IEEE, 93 (2005) 6. [7] Zimmermann H.: OSI Reference Model: The ISO model of architecture for open system interconnection. IEEE Transactions on Communications, 28(4): 425432, 1980. [8] R. Zurawski (ed.): Embedded Systems Handbook. Taylor & Francis, 2005.


Embedded system technology in ABB

Christoffer Apneseth

As the underlying technologies evolve, embedded systems are finding their way into an increasing range of ABB products and applications. Advances in this technology lead to higher performance and more functionality on the one hand, and reduced cost and size on the other. While this benefits the end user, the ever increasing complexity of embedded systems imposes new challenges for developers. This article provides a brief introduction to the use and application of embedded system technology in ABBs power and automation products and the challenges being faced now and in the future.


ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded system technology in ABB

Embedded system technologies

mbedded systems are Installation of advanced instrumentation in the field special purpose computer systems that are totally integrated and enclosed by the devices that they serve or control hence the term embedded systems. While this is a generally accepted definition of embedded systems, it does not give many clues as to the special characteristics the systems possess.
How is ABB applying embedded systems?

the alternatives, or with new value-added features. Many other product families now offered by ABB could not have been conceived without embedded system technology. Examples are Distributed Control Systems (DCS) that can safely automate and control large and complex industrial plants, such as oil refineries, power plants and paper mills. In the early days of industrial automation, relay logic was used to perform simple control functions. With the advent of integrated circuits and the first commercial microcontrollers in the seventies and eighties, programmable industrial controllers were introduced to perform more complex control logic. Today, ABBs Industrial IT Extended Automation System 800xA integrates widely distributed and intelligent field devices with high-level system functions that optimize production assets, as well as the process itself.

To appreciate the purpose of embedded systems, it might be useful to answer some questions that will help to understand the underlying technology. The first question is: How do embedded systems differ from general-purpose computer systems? The answer is, it depends. By definition, an embedded system is designed to perform a set of predefined tasks. This could range in complexity from simple supervision of the operation of an electrical switch, to controlling the movements of a powerful and highly flexible industrial robot. The two solutions, accordingly, will look completely different. The former would be optimized for very low cost, high volume production and the execution of a small set of pre-defined algorithms. The latter would be designed for computing complex, programmable movement paths and transforming the signals that control the motors of the manipulator. The second question to ask is: Why do we need embedded systems? The answer to this is that general-purpose computers, like PCs, would be far too costly for the majority of products that incorporate some form of embedded system technology. A general-purpose solution might also fail to meet a number of functional or performance requirements such as constraints in power-consumption, size-limitations, reliability or real-time performance.
Embedded systems where are they found?

a hundred years. The concepts that underlie some of these technologies have evolved slowly: modern power transformers, for instance, work according to the same principles as they did in the early days of electric power transmission. And despite huge progress in switching technologies and material science, circuit breakers have been based on the same principles for the last fifty years. Now that small and powerful microcontrollers are available at low cost, embedded system components are finding their way into these long-established products. Here, the embedded systems typically perform a secondary function: they are used to supervise, protect or control the primary function of the product. The technology is a way of providing these attributes more cheaply, than
Modern transformer technology

The software part of a modern embedded system can consist of hundreds of thousand lines of code.
Challenges in industrial applications of embedded systems

This issue of ABB Review discusses the wide range of opportunities and challenges associated with the integration of embedded system technology into ABBs portfolio of products and solutions. Many of the benefits and requirements are typical of embedded systems in general such as low cost, small size, etc. some challenges are more specifically associated with industrial applications.
Industrial requirements

ABB has been developing automation and power technologies for more than
ABB Review 2/2006

Industrial requirements vary enormously from application to application, but special industrial requirements typically include: Availability and reliability Safety

Embedded system technology in ABB

Embedded system technologies

Real-time, deterministic response Power consumption Lifetime

Availability and reliability

Wireless power transmission a power supply b primary coil c switches with secondary coils

of excessive heat that would otherwise necessitate expensive and error-prone cooling devices.
Lifecycle issues

Automation and power systems must have very high availability and be extremely reliable in order to minimize the cost of operation (ie to minimize scheduled as well as unplanned maintenance time).

While customers demand high quality and reliability from most of their embedded systems, it is not necessarily critical if, say, a PDA (personal digital assistant) needs to be restarted after an application causes the system to fail. For industrial applications, however, the effect of a failure in the system could be devastating. A gas leakage at an oil platform, for example, must be detected and followed by a safe shutdown of the process. Otherwise, expensive assets or even human lives could be at risk. Similarly, instabilities in power transmission and distribution networks should be detected before they are allowed to propagate and cause large blackouts. Economic security and personal safety depend on high-integrity systems. ABB uses embedded systems in such mission-critical configurations. Special development processes and design methodologies are implemented to provide proven and certified high-integrity products.
Real-time properties

times per second in order to detect and, where necessary, act within a fraction of a power-cycle.

ABB utilizes its global reach to apply best practices developed in one part of its organization to others to improve overall performance.
Power consumption

Yet another requirement that is frequently imposed on industrial embedded systems is a long lifetime of the product itself and the lifecycle of the product family. While modern consumer electronics may be expected to last for less than five years, most industrial devices are expected to work in the field for 20 years or more. This imposes challenges not only on the robustness of the electronics, but also on how the product should be handled throughout its lifecycle: Hardware components, operating systems and development tools are constantly evolving and individual products eventually become obsolete.
Key issues in developing embedded systems

Real-time is a term often associated with embedded systems. Because these systems are used to control or monitor real-time processes, they must be able to perform certain tasks reliably within a given time. But the definition of real-time varies with the application. A chemical reaction, for instance, may proceed slowly, and the temperature at a given point may need to be read no more than once per second. However, the schedule must be predictable. At the other end of the scale, protection devices for high-voltage equipment need to sample currents and voltages thousands of

At first glance, the power consumption of industrial electronics may appear insignificant because of the abundance of power that is available. However, this power is not always available, and the need to keep installation costs low has created a demand for electrical protection devices that do not require a separate power supply for the electronics; these devices are self-sufficient with respect to power and meet their needs by extracting small amounts of energy from their surroundings. Wireless sensors for building-, factory- or process-automation must offer years of battery life or a completely autonomous mode of operation. Self-sufficient power supplies can be designed to extract minute levels of energy from electromagnetic or solar power, temperature gradients or vibration in the environment. This is frequently referred to as energy harvesting. Even when power is available, low-power design can be used to reduce the generation

Some challenges involved in the design of embedded systems have not really changed in the last couple of decades. The drive for increased performance at reduced cost and size, for instance, will continue as long as developments in the underlying technologies will permit. Other challenges involved in embedded system design are changing rapidly. Three areas should be given particular attention: complexity, connectivity and usability.

While the steadily increasing transistor density and speeds of integrated circuits offer tremendous opportunities, these improvements also present developers (individuals, teams, organizations) with a huge challenge: how to handle the added complexity? A modern embedded system can consist of hundreds of thousand lines of software code. More and more products now include complex embedded systems and the development organizations must evolve with the products and their technologies. It is necessary to establish suitable development processes,
ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded system technology in ABB

Embedded system technologies

methods and tools. ABB utilizes its global reach to apply best practices developed in one part of its organization to others to improve overall performance. Developing product platforms also ensures re-use of technology and increased efficiency.

The emergence of SoC has enabled extremely powerful systems to run on configurable platforms that contain all the building blocks of an embedded system.

Before the widespread deployment of digital communication, most embedded systems operated in a stand-alone mode. They may have had some capabilities for remote supervision and control, but, by and large, most functions were performed autonomously.

This is changing rapidly. Embedded systems are now often part of sophisticated distributed networks. Simple sensors with basic transmitter electronics have been replaced by complex, intelligent field devices. As a consequence, individual products can no longer be designed in isolation; they must have common components. Communication has gone from being a small part of a system to being a significant function. Where serial peer-to-peer communication was once the only way to connect a device to a control system, field buses are now able to integrate large numbers of complex devices. The need to connect different applications within a system to information and services in field devices drives the introduction of standard ICT technologies like Ethernet and web-services.

One such trend is SoC Systems on Chip. The emergence of SoC has enabled extremely powerful systems including hardware and software to run on configurable platforms that contain all the building blocks of an embedded system; microprocessors, DSPs, programmable hardware logic, memory, communication processors and display drivers, to give but a few examples. Other trends are related to built-in wireless communication and self-configurable networked devices. These trends enable extended use of intelligent field devices in applications where wiring costs for such devices are prohibitive. ABB is at the forefront of developing technologies and applications that benefit from the latest advances in research combined with technologies from other industries such as telecommunications and consumer electronics.

Communication module for radio transmission

Complex field devices are often programmable or configurable. Todays pressure transmitters can contain several hundred parameters. The interaction with a device either from a built-in panel or from a software application in the system has become more complex. The task of hiding this complexity from the user through the creation of a user-friendly device has sometimes been underestimated. Most other requirements are easily quantifiable or absolute, but usability is somewhat harder to define. Yet an embedded system that is intuitive and simple to operate will reduce the cost of commissioning and maintenance. It will reduce errors and be a key factor in the overall customer satisfaction. That is why usability is given a high priority in the design and development of ABB products, from the conceptual stage, right through to the final testing.
Embedded systems latest trends

Simple sensors with basic transmitter electronics have been replaced by complex, intelligent field devices.
Exactly what power and automation systems will look like twenty years from now is impossible to predict. But whatever developments we witness, embedded systems will be key enablers and drivers for change.

Robot arm equipped with wireless proximity switch

ABB is shaping the future of power and automation through innovative products and solutions, and embedded systems technologies are increasingly important in what the company does. That is why, to stay ahead of the game, ABB must anticipate the emerging trends and opportunities.
ABB Review 2/2006

Christoffer Apneseth ABB Corporate Research, ABB AS Billingstad, Norway



Embedded power protection

Embedded applications in power system automation
Kornel Scherrer

Since the infancy of electrification, more than 130 years ago, protecting assets from power failures has been a main objective. New embedded information technologies incorporated in power system automation are now handling protection aspects plus many additional dedicated applications. This evolution and its future trends are discussed in this overview article of power system automation, as applied to the generation, transmission and the distribution of electricity.


ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded power protection

Embedded system technologies

ower system automation has its origin in the protection of high- or medium-voltage equipment from damage in case of a power system failure. This equipment includes power switching devices, circuit breakers, and power lines, and also motors and generators. The first protective devices were developed more than 130 years ago at the time when the first electrification projects began. Protective devices at that time were built on electromechanical principles and their operation was mechanical. Even today, such electromechanical relays exist in large numbers in many power systems worldwide. As electronics and semiconductor technologies emerged, power system protection also took advantage of new possibilities and a second generation of protective devices was designed with electronic components. These solid-state relays enabled new applications, incorporating enhanced protection functions in addition to power measurements, alarm triggering and basic trending. Eventually, when microprocessors became commercially available in the early eighties, numerical protection emerged. Microprocessor technology has enabled a wealth of new functionality. These embedded numerical devices now deliver key benefits in protection, control, monitoring, and self-supervision, as well as in the field of data communication.
Power system automation business drivers

Power system automation application areas

Power system automation is a distinct variant of general industrial automation. Due to the proximity of highand medium-voltage equipment, power system automation solutions have more stringent requirements. Compared to industrial automation, the key differences include higher voltage signaling, high current and voltage sensing, system time synchronization of 1ms accuracy for event time tagging, short typical response time (in the range of some milliseconds) and more stringent EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) and EMI (electromagnetic interference) testing requirements. In the following section, some typical power system automation applications are introduced and characterized.

The number of embedded system components is increasing rapidly and these components with their varied tasks cover the entire chain of the electrical power delivery process from production to consumption. A key criterion for the characterization of an embedded system or system component is its ability to react to process events or conditions within a deterministic timeframe. Such real-time applications are typically executed cyclically. The cycle time determines the fastest response time and must therefore be designed specifically for the application. In general, applications closer to the power process require shorter cycle times than applications in remote locations such as network control centers. The title picture depicts a typical power delivery

While in the past the sole purpose of a protective device was to protect high- and medium-voltage equipment, todays power transmission and distribution business environment imposes new requirements that call for new solutions. Technical considerations are complemented by a great number of new challenges. Electricity market deregulation, utilities customer-focus, customer retention, power quality and reliability, value added service, financial performance, reduced operation and maintenance cost, and asset management are just a few of the challenges that drive the implementation of modern automation solutions in the power delivery process. Real-time data communication is a key feature and ubiquitous access to process information is key to reaping the benefits of advanced solutions.
ABB Review 2/2006 19

Embedded power protection

Embedded system technologies

structure involving several automation applications with different characteristics. In general, the basic functionality of power system automation includes protection of power system equipment, control of power flow, monitoring of the power process and condition monitoring of the equipment.
Power station

Industrial control is the predominant automation technology at the power station. However, higher voltage devices such as power generators utilize power system automation devices. Typical functionality includes: Generator protection and control Functions to verify synchronous operation (Synchrocheck), ensuring proper timing when the generator is connected to the power transmission network. Circuit breaker protection and control Power system automation devices are usually integrated into the power plant automation system, enabling central control of the complete station.
Power transmission network

a similar function but is based on the power line impedance rather than voltage or current differences. In the event of a line fault, the embedded device will not only disconnect the line, but it will provide some indication of how far from the substation the failure is thought to have occurred. Automation devices in a substation are generally connected to a remote communication terminal or gateway, which exchanges information with the network control center.

tection and control. Thus, a substation will need many dozens of automation devices, and large stations can require several hundred. The automation devices are modular system components, which vary in their number of process inputs and outputs, as well as in their computing power.
Primary distribution substation

Todays power transmission and distribution business environment imposes new requirements that call for new solutions.
While the transmission network operates at alternating current (AC), high voltage direct current (HVDC) is usually employed for very long distance power transmission. Power at both ends of the line needs to be converted from AC to DC and from DC to AC by thyristor controlled converters. These circuits require highly sophisticated and very powerful control and protection equipment, executing at cycle times as short as 100 ns.
Transmission substation

The primary distribution substation performs the same functions as a transmission substation but on lower voltage levels. Smaller power transformers convert voltage levels from, for example, 110 kV to 38 kV. At this level, protection and control are generally integrated in a single device, executing all functions concurrently. The energy involved in a fault is less critical than in a transmission system and thus, real-time response requirements are somewhat relaxed. However, operating times are still in the range of a few tens of milliseconds.
Secondary distribution substation

Substations are usually located at each end of a power line. The most typical application in the transmission network is the power line protection function, which is embedded as a dedicated task in the automation system that is installed in the substation. Line differential protection is built on two electronic devices that measure voltage and current at both ends of the line. Specialized communication links transmit these measurements, which under normal operating conditions would show zero differences. A difference in measured quantities would indicate a fault on the power line and circuit breakers would be operated (tripped) in a matter of a few milliseconds, disconnecting the line from the transmission network. Such faults can be temporary, as in the case of a lightning strike, or permanent, as in the case of a fallen tree. In the case of a temporary fault, automation functions will reconnect the line automatically. Another common application is the line distance protection that performs

The secondary distribution substation is located closer to consumers and at lower voltage levels. It may or may not include a transformer and the complete arrangement is considerably less complex than in the primary substation. Sophistication in automation is also very limited and most often reduced to simple protection functions. Devices are standardized and available at very low cost. Most often, no communication is employed at this level of the distribution network.
Distributed power generator station

At the substation, large oil-insulated power transformers convert voltage levels from the transmission voltage, which might be 240 kV, to the distribution voltage, which might be 110 kV. Specific arrangements of circuit breakers enable reliable control of the power flow. Many embedded systems are installed for automation purposes. In general, one distinguishes between object protection functions, such as line protection, transformer protection, and breaker protection, and system protection functions, such as busbar protection. Short circuits in the substation can become as high as 100,000 Amps, so protective devices need to react in 10 to 20 ms by disconnecting the faulting part of the station. For dependability reasons, separate embedded devices are used for pro-

The most common application of a distributed power generator is an emergency backup power supply for critical consumers, such as hospitals, industrial applications or mission-critical infrastructures. A key application in such stations is the transfer switch from the standard power source to the backup supply. Appropriate embedded automation functions ensure correct operation of all devices involved, including the ability to disconnect the power line, start the generator, and connect the generator to the critical consumer. In case the power supply needs to remain uninterrupted, as is commonly required in information
ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded power protection

Embedded system technologies

server farms, large batteries or flywheel technology would be employed to overcome the generator startup delay. Complete fast transfer operations can be executed within a few milliseconds, leaving critical computer equipment uninterrupted.
Feeder automation

functionality includes overcurrent protection, fault location, breaker reclosing. Smart and quick restoration of faulted distribution feeders are other good examples of advanced embedded automation functions.
Industry network

equipment. A great number of devices are installed to perform protection, control and measurement functions. These power system automation devices are typically integrated into the overall process control system.
Network control center

The application of protection and control devices outside the substation and on the power distribution line is called feeder automation. Typical

Large power consumers such as industrial parks, chemical plants and factories operate and maintain their own on-site power distribution network in order to power motors and other large

Substation automation technology

Early implementation of numerical power system protection and control devices used specialized digital signal processing (DSP) units. Todays implementations are leveraging the vast computing power available in general purpose central processing units (CPU). As such, PowerPC microcontrollers deliver high computing power at low power consumption and, therefore, low power dissipation. Random Access Memory (RAM) is utilized for the program execution memory and erasable read only memory (EPROM) stores program and configuration information. A typical configuration can include a 400 MHz PowerPC, 64 Mbytes of EPROM and 64 Mbytes of RAM. The CPU can be complemented with field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) that integrate logic and signal pre-processing functionality. An automation device usually includes a number of printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA), accommodating requirements for the diversity and number of different input and output circuitry. High-speed serial communication is built in for inter-module communication that enables the CPU to send and acquire data from the input and output modules. Application-specific circuits are designed to optimize overall technical and economical objectives. The picture below shows a sample of a high-performance CPU module, connected to a binary input and Ethernet communication module.

The network control center is the central location for network operation. Large supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems collect information from all substations and perform complex computations. At this level, energy management applications are executed, enabling proper and stable operation of the generators, transmission network and consumers. Complex power flow calculations are performed to monitor critical conditions and enable appropriate actions to be taken by network control personnel.

Due to the proximity of high- and medium-voltage equipment, power system automation solutions have more stringent requirements.
Embedded power system automation devices perform real-time-critical functions on all levels of the system and control hierarchy. The graph in 1 classifies the applications mentioned above according to their real-time response requirement.
Technology Trends

a b c

EPROM Signal preprocessing FPGA Device internal 100 bit/s serial communication Power supply

Multi-port Ethernet switch with optical and electrical 100Mbits/s Ethernet media access 18-300V binary inputs Binary input processing ASIC RAM PowerPC micro-controller

f g h i

The future of embedded components in power system automation will be determined by three distinct technology trends:
Electronics integration

h i

a d

e g

As integrated circuit technology advances, more and more functionality will be incorporated into single automation devices. Because of higher CPU clock speeds and increased memory, a single embedded device will be capable of executing new and additional functionality, which will need to be processed by multiple devices, or even off-line.

ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded power protection

Embedded system technologies

Real-time requirements for different embedded applications in a power system hierarchy


working, enabling the utilization of a multitude of standard protocols in a single Ethernet network. Todays protection and control devices have the potential to become fully capable communication network nodes with automation functionality.

Typical application cycle time

100 ms

10 ms

1 ms

1 ms Network control centre

HVDC, 100 ns Distributed power generation

Transmission network

Primary substations

Secondary substations

Industry networks

LV network

Industrial control is the predominant automation technology at the power station.

Future trends in embedded power protection technology

Time synchronization: analog data acquisition: 1..30 s system events: 1 ms

Moreover, modern system implementations are based on more generic electronics and software platforms, allowing for the most economical configuration of specific applications.
Switchgear integration

It is only the rate of progress that differs.

Data communication

Embedded systems will also be integrated into the switchgear apparatus itself. Automation devices are currently mounted in switchgear panels and connected to the apparatus by extensive wiring. Thus, the apparatus and its automation functionality represent a comprehensive functional unit that is also referred to as the intelligent apparatus. Hardware engineering activities, such as drafting and wiring will be substituted by software engineering and configuration. Integrated electronics in low-voltage equipment is already well established and state-of-the-art. In medium voltage, the first intelligent circuit breakers have been launched and market acceptance is growing. On highvoltage levels, research is ongoing and market acceptance still needs to be established 2 . However, what is common to all application areas is the continuous drive towards more integration.

The strongest trend however, is towards more and higher-speed communication, which in general means Industrial Ethernet implementation. The new utility industry standard, IEC61850, is fostering inter-operability on all levels of power automation systems, boosting the benefits and the acceptance of base communication technology. Future devices will include integrated multi-port network functionality, such as routing and switching capabilities, as well as highly accurate time synchronization. Additionally, most of the commonly used protocols, such as Modbus and DNP (Distributed Network Protocol) will be extended for Ethernet net-

Highly sophisticated embedded systems are employed in great numbers in the electrical power delivery process at all levels. The main function of these systems is to protect the power system components, control the power flow, and monitor the process, as well as the condition of its equipment. Power system automation devices are integrated in communication networks for the exchange of information between several such devices, as well as with supervisory systems. Technology trends predict an even higher level of functional complexity per device and also deeper integration with medium- and high-voltage apparatus. The need to enhance automation and communication will continue to grow. To meet this demand of the future automation devices must be equipped with sophisticated data communication and networking capabilities.

Device integration related to voltage levels

Low voltage < 1 kV

Medium voltage 1..20 kV 10..52 kV

High voltage > 70 kV

Level of integration

Kornel Scherrer Distribution Automation ABB Management Services Ltd. Zrich, Switzerland

ABB Review 2/2006

Drivers of change
Embedded DSP-based motor control
Ilpo Ruohonen When people step onto an escalator, they dont expect it to slow down under the extra load: Rather, the power output should rise to maintain a constant speed. In industrial applications; belts, shafts and pumps are similarly expected to maintain preset speeds or torque values, regardless of changing conditions. Such requirements are not fulfilled through inherent properties of the motors, but through the use of motor control systems (drives). An important criterion for such a control system is its responsiveness. How long does it take to respond to and compensate for a parameter change? Progress in microprocessor technology is not only permitting faster data throughput in such systems, but is also allowing increasingly sophisticated mathematical functions to be implemented. ABBs Direct Torque Control (DTC) relies on powerful digital signal processors (DSP) that deliver a very fast response time and an accurate and responsive control system.

irect Torque Control (DTC) is a control method that gives electronic variable speed motor controllers (AC drives) an excellent torque response time 1 . For AC induction machines, it delivers levels of performance and responsiveness reaching the machines theoretical limits in terms of torque and speed control. DTC uses a control algorithm that is implemented on a microcontroller embedded in the drive. The technology
Block diagram of DTC

was first used commercially by ABB in 1995, and rapidly became the preferred control scheme for AC drives, especially for demanding or critical applications, where the quality of the control system could not be compromised. To understand the interplay of control theory and progress in embedded control, the history of DTC should be considered.
The emergence of a new technology

drive (VSD) is to control the flow of energy from the mains to a process via the shaft of a motor. Two physical quantities describe the state of the shaft: torque and speed. Controlling the flow of energy depends on controlling these quantities. In practice, either of these can be controlled and the implementation is referred to as torque control or speed control. When a VSD operates in torque control mode, the load deter-

The main function of a variable speed

DTC Core
Torque status Speed controller + acceleration compensator Internal torque reference Torque reference controller Torque comparator Control signals Optimum pulse selector Switch position commands

Mains Rectifier

Torque reference

DC bus

Speed reference


Flux comparator

Actual torque Flux reference controller U Flux braking On/Off U f f Actual Flux

Flux status Switch positions

Inverter ASIC

Flux optimising On/Off

Adaptive motor model

Actual speed

Internal flux reference M 3~ Motor current DC bus voltage

ABB Review 2/2006


Drivers of change

Embedded system technologies

An Ideaplast plant in Italy with a single-line extruder (detail of the extruders head and winding film rolls)

mines the speed. Likewise, when operated in speed control mode, the load determines the torque. In either case, there is a relationship between the torque, the actual current and the actual flux in the machine. The idea of DTC is that motor flux and torque are used as primary control variables. This is contrary to the way in which traditional AC drives control input frequency and voltage, but is similar in principle to what is done with a DC drive. Also, with traditional PWM (pulse width modulation) and flux vector drives, the voltage applied to the motor requires a modulator stage. This stage adds to the signal processing time and therefore limits the responsiveness of the control system, and hence the torque and speed response time. The fact that DTC does not require a modulator is one of the reasons why this control method offers such fast response times ten times faster than can be achieved through conventional flux vector control. Moreover, DTC achieves this fast field-oriented control without the need for speed feedback: It uses advanced motor theory to calculate the motor torque and stator flux.

munications industry, but have now found widespread use in drive control. A modern DTC drive calculates the actual torque on the motor shaft at least 40,000 times per second (every 25 s). This provides an extremely fast reaction to load changes on the motor shaft, as well as to changes in the speed or torque reference made by the user.

Todays drives are smaller, faster, more efficient, more reliable, and easier to use than the previous generation all thanks to progress in embedded control.
The reaction time of DTC is so fast that it opens new possibilities for variable speed control. For example, a DTC drive is ideal for protecting the mechanics from overload and load shocks. Also, fast torque control means that sophisticated algorithms can be readily implemented for the damping of mechanical vibrations in applications where mechanical resonances are inherently present. Similarly, a DTC drive can rapidly detect a loss of load torque caused by a mechanical failure for example a broken conveyor belt and act to prevent further damage. Because of its fast time response, there are many other examples of DTC being integrated into protective functions for both machine and motor. Whereas simpler control methods such as sensorless vector control are typically used in low-power drives for less demanding applications, DTC is preferred in the more demanding applications that require a very fast torque response time for optimum performance. Because high power drives are significant investments, DTC is also used in all such drives from ABB, regardless of the application.
Spreading to other applications

Reliable conveyor operation is essential in bakery automation (Fazer Bakery, Finland)

A pressure-boosting station (Pietersaari Finland). The drives are equipped with DTC and intelligent pump control (IPC)

The reaction time of DTC is so fast that it opens new possibilities for variable speed control. For example, a DTC drive is ideal for protecting the mechanics from overload and load shocks.
DSP enables breakthrough

Although the advantage of DTC was understood in theory, it could not be implemented until progress in embedded control made it possible to execute the primary control cycles at a sufficiently high frequency. Conventional microprocessors, as used in personal computers, do not achieve a sufficiently high data throughput. It was the introduction of digital signal processors (DSPs) that made the implementation of DTC possible. DSPs were first developed for the telecom24

With the advent of DTC there is little to improve in the control method of variable speed drives: It is no longer the frequency converter that limits the performance of a variable speed drive, but the motor itself. Research
ABB Review 2/2006

Drivers of change

Embedded system technologies

has now shifted towards the application of DTC in other settings. Some exciting new developments of embedded drive control have been opened. One of these is the application of DTC to permanent magnet motors. Although the principal of permanent magnet motors has been known for some time, their commercial breakthrough had to wait until magnetic materials were sufficiently developed. NdFeB (neodymium iron boron) magnets have been available since 1987, but there have been several further improvements in the material composition before the mechanical and magnetic properties of these magnets allowed them to be used in the production of motors. Since then, production techniques have steadily improved today powerful permanent magnet motors are commercially viable.

The result is a line current that is practically sinusoidal and free of disturbances.
The permanent magnet motor is a synchronous motor operating on somewhat different principles than an asynchronous motor. ABB has created

a modified version of DTC specifically for permanent magnet motors. This combination of DTC and permanent magnet motors (PM-DTC) offers several benefits. Although compatible with traditional drives, the motors come in standard IEC frames and mechanical dimensions, the PM-DTC combination offers more accurate control, without the need for encoders, and high torque at low speeds. As a result it has been possible to displace gearboxes from paper machines. PM-DTC drives can lead to substantial cost savings. Compared with traditional solutions these drives use fewer components (no gears, no couplings, no encoders), require less engineering, save space, reduce maintenance costs, have a lower noise levels, higher availability and higher energy efficiency. Many of these benefits can be traced back to the development of DTC and advancements in embedded control. Although paper machines where among the first applications in which PM-DTC technology was applied, other applications can be found in ship propulsion and wind turbines. Another new application of DTC is on the front-end of the drive. With modifications, ABB has applied DTC to the supply unit that is connected to the mains and provides the inverter unit with power. With the help of DTC it has been possible to create a drive that produces only very low harmonic distortion. Traditional drives are supplied with mains power rectified through a passive diode bridge. The problem with this method is that the diode bridge distorts the voltage in the mains. This voltage distortion can affect other equipment connected to the same grid. A very effective way to mitigate this is to use a drive with a so-called active front-end that uses DTC for its control. The DTC supply unit controls the line current and removes low harmonic distortions. High harmonic distortions are removed using a small filter. The result is a line current that is practically sinusoidal and free of disturbances. Traditional solutions are based on increasing the number of pulses in the

Modern offices are full of sensitive equipment that requires harmonics in the network be kept as low as possible. Low harmonic drives with DTC are ideal for this type of environment.

supply unit, 12-pulse or 24-pulse inverters, and the use of a bulky phaseshift transformer. The active front-end with DTC does not need such a transformer and the whole package is considerably smaller. These examples illustrate an important trend: Progress in electronics has led to increased embedded processing power and memory in the drive. This in turn has led to the successful implementation of a superior control method: DTC. The advantages of DTC have themselves led to new applications and new functionality. Todays drives are smaller, faster, more efficient, more reliable, and easier to use than the previous generation all thanks to progress in embedded control.

Motor control
Control systems come in two basic varieties. Closed-loop control systems have encoders in the motor to report its status. This is used as feedback information for the control algorithm. Open loop systems are simpler because these encoders are omitted but at the price of a lower control accuracy. Can the accuracy of a closed-loop be achieved without encoders? ABBs DTC does exactly this it uses mathematical functions to predict the motor status. The accuracy and repeatability delivered is comparable to closedloop systems, but with the added bonus of a higher responsiveness (up to ten times as fast).

Ilpo Ruohonen ABB Oy Helsinki, Finland

ABB Review 2/2006


Roll and control

The AC 800PEC control platform in a broad range of applications
Armin Eichmann, Andreas Vollmer The great reliability, speed and precision required of power converters and drives call for high performance controllers. ABBs AC 800PEC controller is integrated into the companys successful and widely adopted 800xA control system. The AC 800PEC is suitable for a wide range of applications not limited strictly to power electronics control, but including fields such as rolling plants in the metals industry where it is has a part in controlling the complete process. The following two examples illustrate the successful integration of the AC 800PEC1) in locomotive drives and rolling plants.

Fast control in a traction application

To lower operating costs while raising attractivity, modern trains are becoming increasingly light and agile. The on-board power converters must follow suite by delivering greater speed, responsiveness and reliability while fitting into a smaller footprint. Enter ABBs CC750 power converter!

telland). All these trains are manufactured by Stadler Rail AG. Since their first commercial operation in December 2003, a total of about 250 vehicles have been commissioned. Their pow-

er converters are all controlled by AC 800PEC units from ABB.

System Configuration

The CC750 was developed as a trac-

ABBs CC750 power converters are an integral part of the FLIRT-type modern lightweight trains.

he CC750 low-voltage IGBT converter is at the heart of the power circuit of the FLIRT 1 type2) [1] of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) as well as of GTW-type vehicles for the operators THURBO (Thurgau-Bodensee Bahn) and RM (Regionalverkehr Mit26 ABB Review 2/2006

Roll and control

Embedded system technologies

tion converter for use in regional and suburban electrical multiple unit trains. The CC750 has an integrated auxiliary supply and is suitable for several catenary voltage supplies including 15 kV / 16.7 Hz and 25 kV / 50 Hz. It uses IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) modules with 1200 V blocking voltage in both its traction supply circuit and in the auxiliary converter.

Traction converter arrangement on THURBO GTW with two CC750 units delivering a total of 1.1 MW of traction power.
a b c d f

g h

pantograph (15kV, 16 2/3 Hz cantenary) main circuit breaker transformer and e CC750 power converter units auxiliary transformer winding for train heating supply grid inverter (390V input) DC-link (750V)

j l

m n

traction inverter (480V / 0 170 Hz, 750 kVA traction power) and k asynchronous traction motor three-phase auxiliary supply (50 kVA / 3 x 400 Vac) battery charger (12 kW / 36 Vdc) brake chopper

The two converter systems are fully redundant the vehicle can continue to operate at reduced power should one of them fail.

The main system configuration is shown in 2 . Two identical CC750 converter systems ( 2d and 2e ) are connected to the catenary 2a via a common oil-cooled high voltage transformer 2c . The two converter systems are fully redundant the vehicle can continue to operate at reduced power should one of them fail.
Embedded Control System

b d c m n h k f g i e l

A decentralized concept was chosen for the control hardware 3 consisting of the following units: AC 800PEC Controller 3e , ABBs high-end process control system. This can be programmed using MATLAB/Simulink and Real-Time Workshop. The PEBB 3b (Power Electronics Building Block) interface board, used as a universal remote I/O device. This board controls and protects the IGBT converters. The links to the IGBT drivers are bidirectional. Combi I/O board 3c , a universal remote I/O device for high-speed traction applications. Auxiliary modules 3a 3d , comprising power supplies and intermediate current and voltage transducers and the control of the switch and disconnector devices. Furthermore, the hardware arrangement includes AC current and DC voltage measurement (synchronous sampling), overcurrent protection and modulation and firing interlocking.
ABB Review 2/2006

In order to ensure high tolerance to electromagnetic interference, communication between the AC 800PEC Controller, the PEBB interface board and the Combi I/O board is assured by optical fibers. An additional optical link connects the converter control system to the higher level vehicle control system via a CANopen bus. The connection to a host computer for programming and monitoring purposes is provided by an Ethernet link.

Control hardware panel of CC750

a b c d e

auxiliary module PEBB interface board Combi I/O board auxiliary module AC 800PEC

Since December 2003, a total of about 250 vehicles have been commissioned. Their power converters are all controlled by AC 800PEC units from ABB.
Control Software of the AC 800PEC

High-speed digital control systems represent the state of the art in power

Roll and control

Embedded system technologies

electronics. Typically, FPGAs (Field-Programmable Gate Arrays) using advanced VHDL (VHSIC Hardware Description Language) programming tools are used for highly time-critical functions in the microsecondrange and below. In the intermediate speed range (100 s to millisecond-range) AC 800PEC provides a software layer based on MATLAB/Simulink with RealTime Workshop [2]. This environment allows highlevel graphical programming on the conceptual abstrac-

Table 1

Software tasks and their cycle times tasks (examples) speed and torque instructions state machine, slow protection flux controller current controllers, pantograph bounce detection very fast current controllers modulators, very fast protection cycle time 50 ms 1 ms

Vehicle Control via CANopen AC 800PEC, MATLAB/ Simulink with Real-Time Workshop

Task C

tion level favored by control and system engineers. All coding, downloading and monitoring functions are integrated into the platform. The engineer is spared time-consuming and error-prone low level coding. Control systems typically consist of components with different time constants. The software therefore has sub-tasks that are executed at different intervals. In the control software for the CC750, three software cycles have been implemented running at cycle times of 1ms, 250 ms and 50 ms Table 1 .

Task B

250 s


50 s ns-range

Rolling mill in the metal industry

In the metals industry, demands on product quality and on plant productivity and flexibility are steadily increasing. ABBs new generation of rolling mill automation system includes an integrated and advanced solution suite that meets the customers needs for product quality and throughput. The use of ABBs 800xA Automation Platform with the powerful AC 800PEC controller permits millwide uniform automation, seamlessly integrating advanced solutions into the process control system.

n hot and cold rolling mills 4 , the demands on mill profitability, productivity and product quality are on the rise. At the same time, mill flexibility has to match the growing variety of products. Strip quality and mill throughput are influenced by various factors such as mechanical design, electrical equipment, auxiliary supplies and control strategy, and the very many associated variables have to be tightly controlled to meet product quality targets.

level binary control up to advanced and sophisticated control solutions. The AC 800PEC is outstandingly well suited to meet these requirements. Beside the full integration into the 800xA Automation platform with communication to I/Os, Drives, various fieldbus systems and the Human Machine Interface, its strengths lie in its powerful programming capability (based on IEC 61131-3) and the CPU performance provided 5 .

An impression of key data of a cold rolling mill is given by Table 2 . To be able to control such a large and complex plant and meet the high demands on process speed and product quality, a powerful controller is needed to handle all required functions from low

The customers benefit is an improvement of the thickness deviation of up to 50 percent (product dependent).
The most demanding function in a rolling mill is the thickness control. Keeping the strip thickness within a narrow tolerance band is one of the
Table 2

Everything under control at the rolling mill

An impression of key data of a cold rolling mill

Maximum roll force = 30 MN Maximum mass of rolls in a stand = 40 tons Maximum mill acceleration = 2 m/s2 Maximum mill speed = 150 km/h Minimum strip thickness = 6 m Thickness tolerance = 0.5 ... 1.0 %


ABB Review 2/2006

Roll and control

Embedded system technologies

Typical system configuration of the rolling mill application

do not fully take into account the connection between thickness, roll position and tension [3].
Main control room
Flatness Thickness

OperateIT & MES Server

Computer room




By using the powerful AC 800PEC controller and its possibility of implementing C-Code beside the standard IEC 61131-3 program level, a new thickness control solution for cold rolling mills has been developed based on a MIMO (Multi-Input MultiOutput) control concept. The customers benefit is an improvement of the thickness deviation of up to 50 percent (product dependent).

Entry section and coil preparation Exit section and spool handling, coil transportation Mill stand section and roll change Hydraulic, lubrication & roll oil

Presetting & recording Master reference control Coiler, mill drive and Deflector roll control

Roll force control Position control Thickness control Tilt control Roll bending and shifting

Flatness control

Mill flexibility has to match the growing variety of products.

A powerful all-rounder

Thanks to the different programming levels of the AC 800PEC, this controller is well suited for a broad range of applications from fast control algorithms in power electronics to process-wide control applications.

MIMO control concept with dynamic online parameter adaptation Pass schedule, set-up and adaptation Set point Control objectives Controller design/adaption Controller parameter MIMO controller Dynamic disturbance FF Mill PIDs Dynamic decoupler Parameters Armin Eichmann ABB Switzerland Ltd. Turgi, Switzerland On-line plant model On-line estimation Andreas Vollmer ABB Automation GmbH Mannheim, Germany

References [1] Peter Bruderer Stadler Rail Bussnang, Description of FLIRT train, Railvolution 4/04 pages 5872 [2] The Mathworks, User Manual Release 12.1, In particular Matlab, Simulink, Real Time Workshop, Stateflow, Stateflow Coder [3] ABB in metals, Footnotes

mills most crucial requirements. The benchmark is set by the deep drawing3) of aluminum and steel sheets for cans or car body parts. The more the variation of thickness can be reduced, the smaller the minimum permissible thickness the mill can be operated at. This permits improvements through lower material usage, weight saving and overall cost-efficiency. To achieve effective control
ABB Review 2/2006

of the rolling process, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems, instrumentation, as well as the lubrication and the control strategy must all fit together seamlessly 6 . State-of-the-art thickness control algorithms are composed of single feedforward control loops. These algorithms are limited in their achievable thickness performance because they

For more background on the AC 800PEC, see also Design patterns on page 62. FLIRT: Flinker Leichter Innovativer Regional Triebzug or Fast, Lightweight Innovative Regional Train



Drawing is the process of forming metal sheet into cylindrical or box-shaped parts using a punch. In deep drawing the depth of the part is greater than its diameter.


Embedded systems extend automation

System 800xA incorporates numerous embedded applications
Kai Hansen, Tomas Lindstrm, Lars Mrtensson, Hans Thilderkvist Users expect and demand more functionality from automation systems than ever before. Embedded system components that reside within a control system make much of this functionality possible. Advanced automation solutions, such as ABBs Extended Automation System 800xA, require the integration of numerous embedded technologies to perform the wide variety of productivity enhancing functions required by customers across the process industries. With plants that might be controlled remotely, and the very real need to keep production up and running around the clock for several years, process industry customers must have easy maintenance and reconfiguration options that do not interrupt production.


ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded systems extend automation

Embedded system technologies

mbedded systems are microprocessor-controlled computer systems that form an integral part of a larger system or piece of equipment. They are dedicated to specific tasks that contribute to the overall functionality of the system. Depending on the nature of the system and its function, the requirements of an embedded system can differ greatly.
Embedded components in System 800xA

ly computed. System 800xA can meet requirements ranging from hard realtime, where exact timing criteria must be met, to soft real-time, where response is less time-critical. Flexibility embedded components can be dedicated to a single predefined task, or to a number of fundamentally different assignments. Compare, for example, the difference in the flexibility of an I/O (input/output) module versus that of a normal desktop PC. Availability Because different processes have different back-up requirements, the redundancy level of a system must be flexible. Cost The acceptable unit cost for a component is often tightly linked to its required quantity. It is important to

consider whether the component will be used thousands of times in an installation, or in just a single instance. Environmental hardening In industrial environments, the components, if subjected to heat, vibration and dust, must be environmentally hardened.
Distributing embedded intelligence

The embedded components that are used with System 800xA allow it to deliver many different solutions for many different requirements. These requirements can include: Real-time execution It is often critical that a given task is finished at a predictable time, as well as being correct-

As an extended automation system, the 800xA distributes intelligence and computing power to where it is most appropriate 1 . Such distribution can take the form of different types of servers, providing services to clients, and one another. On the control side, control logic can be distributed across several controllers, exchanging measurement and calculation values. Preprocessing can range from I/O modules filtering and time-stamping data

A simplified overview of a process plant built around System 800xA

Client/ Server level Remote Clients


System Servers

Control Network

Control level

Process Automation

Process Automation and Safety


Device level S800 I/O

S900 I/O (Ex) Variable Speed Drives Fieldbus High Speed Linking Devices (FF HSE/HI, PB DP/PA)


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Embedded systems extend automation

Embedded system technologies

packets, to sensors and actuators performing advanced pre-processing and diagnostic functions. Input and output data from I/O buses are scanned by dedicated communication modules. Most of the systems components are implemented as embedded systems with a design optimized for specific needs: I/O modules, with simple signal processing, can be implemented entirely by hardware components, with some of the logic executed in an FPGA (field-programmable gate array). More complex I/O modules, intelligent sensors and actuators are based on embedded microcontrollers that provide greater functional flexibility. Many of these use some kind of real-time operating system. Communication modules may implement a protocol stack, partly in hardware and partly in firmware, running on the embedded central processing unit (CPU). One way of splitting the

job may be to process acyclic messages with the CPU and handle cyclic messages with a direct memory access (DMA) unit, sometimes with an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) dedicated the task. The Processor Module in the AC 800M uses a commercial real-time operating system and runs one of the most complex and flexible embedded applications. Most of its functions are completely defined by the user 2 .

cess status to operators. They also support engineering, commissioning and maintenance of the whole system. At this level, standard servers and PCs are built on Windows technology rather than embedded systems, but even here, special solutions are available, eg, redundancy of servers and network to ensure high system availability.
Controller level

It is often critical that a given task is finished at a predictable time, as well as being correctly computed.
Client/Server level

The most advanced embedded systems are found at the controller level. Here, the components must be able to sustain harsh conditions such as vibration and heat. A controller should also have high flexibility, supporting simple functions, ranging from binary control to advanced proportional, integral and derivative (PID) control. ABB has a family of controller units, the most advanced of which is the AC 800M processor module 3 . To achieve the desired flexibility of communication options, the AC 800Ms processor module has a number of different communication interfaces 4 : Two Ethernet ports allow communication with the Client/Server level and other Controllers. The ModuleBus accommodates directly-connected S800 I/O modules. The communication expansion (CEX) bus allows additional communication modules to be connected.

On the Client/Server level, a number of software systems combine to comprise operational functionality, eg, presenting measured values and pro-

Extended 800xA workplace

The AC 800M controller mounted in a rack cabinet

The AC 800M processor module, the central unit in the controller

Redundancy Control Unit (RCU) Link Connector

Power supply card

CPU card

Plug-in CPU unit

Serial RS232 ports


DIN-rail Back-plane unit

Communication Expansion (CEX) bus


ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded systems extend automation

Embedded system technologies

Two RS232 ports are available for serial protocols. A redundancy control unit (RCU) link is also available. Eliminating moving parts, such as harddisks and fans, ensures control unit reliability under tough conditions. In the AC 800M processor module, program and data are stored in Flash PROM (programmable read-only memory) and RAM (random access memory), and, thanks to the energy-efficiency of the CPU, the unit is cooled by natural airflow alone. Maintenance problems prohibit the use of mechanical fans. Basing a control systems processor module on an embedded microcontroller reduces the number of components needed, lowering costs and power consumption. An FPGA is used for most of the additional onboard logic needed. Ethernet ports and the serial ports are implemented in the microcontroller. In addition, a number of special functions that could have been implemented in discrete hardware units, eg, the ModuleBus interface, the CEX bus and the redundancy control unit, are instead implemented as building blocks in the FPGA. The combined abilities of the processor and the real-time operating system allow the software to perform various tasks for real-time response of control loops, and timely communication with the plant operator. The main task for the Processor Module, and therefore one with a very

high priority, is the execution of the process control logic. This is a set of calculations that defines when valves open and close, when motors start, how fast they run, etc., plus all the other actions that directly control the process. Since the calculation is based on input and output data, the process control logic is entirely dependent on the accuracy with which these data are read. The embedded system software must handle the process control logic and the I/O scanning in a way that is flexible enough to allow logic changes without losing control of the on-going production process.


System 800xA includes many different units that communicate via a bus or a network 5 . The Process Automation industry employs several standards for communicating between process controllers and peripheral units such as I/O systems, intelligent sensors and actuators, and other field devices. The AC 800M controller supports a wide range of these protocols, including internationally standardized fieldbuses, eg, PROFIBUS, Foundation Fieldbus and HART, which facilitate communication with various system components, such as I/O systems, intelligent sensors and actuators. Serial protocols, such as Modbus, and protocols that can be implemented by the user in the control logic, comprise another group of communications protocols that are supported by the AC 800M. A third group of communications protocols supported by the AC 800M provides connectivity to other specific products, such as ABBs motor control system INSUM, ABBs advanced drive systems and different I/O systems using dedicated communication protocols. Most of these options are implemented as dedicated communication modules that are connected on the CEX bus to the processor module. The communication modules implement the protocols, and the exchange of process data and status, with the Processor Module through a standardized software interface. Data are exchanged via dual-port memory on the communication module that the processor module accesses via the CEX bus. The requirements for real-time performance on a communication module are sometimes very complex, partly because of the large amounts of data that must be processed, and partly because the timing constraints of the protocol may be very strict. Both of these challenges justify the use of a dedicated communication module with a local, embedded CPU, instead of just adding more hardware components onto the processor module.

Most of the systems components are implemented as embedded systems with a design optimized for specific needs.
The high availability of the AC 800M is assured via redundant units for the controller CPU. The incorporation of redundancy in embedded systems is a complicated business as it requires a detailed understanding of all the different ways in which a system could fail and a corresponding knowledge of the redundancy solutions that can handle each type of failure. Additional complications arise because some processes are more important than others, but in the AC 800M, critical failures can be detected and a back-up CPU implemented in less than 10 ms.

Communication interfaces used with AC 800M




S100 I/O


ABB Review 2/2006

Control Network RS232














Embedded systems extend automation

Embedded system technologies

Rather than using an additional, dedicated module on the CEX bus, some communication options are implemented using the ModuleBus. Certain Motor Drives can be connected directly on this bus as they use the same protocol as the S800 I/O.

S800 I/O

high availability is the power supply. Units must have overand under-voltage detection. Redundant power supplies must be carefully designed, so that they will not constitute a single point of failure.
Embedded system modules provide a high degree of flexibility

HART communication for intelligent sensors and actuators is implemented by special I/O modules that, as well as handling normal process signals, handle the digital FSK (frequency shift keying) signal that is superimposed on the process signal.
Hot swap

To achieve high availability, communication modules can be exchanged while the controller is running. Thus, if one communication module breaks down, it can be replaced with a spare without having to restart the controller and thereby interrupting the production process. This strategy also makes it easy to reconfigure the controller and thus change the communication options without halting the controller. Control logic and communication links that are not changed operate continuously during this reconfiguration. The only part of the control application affected is that that uses data from the swapped communication module. To support this, the embedded system software that accesses the Communication Modules is capable of dealing with units that suddenly fail to respond by configuring and restarting a healthy module.
Redundant communication

nent cost is therefore a factor to consider, and the reason why less advanced embedded processors are more often used here than in the controllers. A simple scheduling of tasks, rather than a complete real-time operating system might also be preferable. However, realtime response is as important at this level as it is at the controller level. Parts of the I/O system may need to be intrinsically safe ie, be suitable for use in hazardous environments. This can be achieved by encasing the equipment in an expensive housing, or, preferably, by using I/O units with very low power consumption such that potentially hazardous electrical sparks will not be generated. ABB provides a large range of I/O units for different needs, the S800 I/O system, for example 6 . The S800 I/O comprises a substantial number of different modules of hardware and software solutions, each having their own specific features. For example, the hardware of the S880 safety I/O is based on an embedded microcontroller and an FPGA module. As a safety I/O module, it employs a dual solution where both the microcontroller and the FPGA execute the ModuleBus slave protocol, as well as the logic for the data input, output and diagnostics. Real-time demands on this unit are very strict. When a message is received from the controller, the reply must be given within 330 ms. Missing this deadline results in the controller assuming that the I/O unit is not functioning, and continuing with the next unit. The I/O module must also handle configuration data and all possible error states.
Power supply

The enormous number of embedded systems found in a typical process plant provides a wide range of different hardware and software solutions. It is quite a challenge to organize these components into a single unified system, but the results are well worth the effort. As this very simplified discussion shows, different demands on different parts of a system create heterogeneous elements within a unified system. With System 800xA, ABB has brought together optimal embedded hardware and software components and integrated them to deliver a dependable system with the wide range of advanced functionality that is needed in todays process industries. Top-of-the-line equipment and systems, designed in consultation with end-users, will continue to improve production automation and enhance efficiency. As one of the foremost process automation companies in the world, ABB can be relied upon to provide two elements needed by every successful industry power and productivity.

Some communication modules support redundancy. Communication with units on PROFIBUS and Foundation Fieldbus HSE (High-Speed Ethernet), for example, use dual communication modules to eliminate single points of failure between the controller and the external unit.
I/O and instruments

Tomas Lindstrm ABB Automation Technologies AB Vsters, Sweden Lars Mrtensson Hans Thilderkvist ABB Automation Technologies AB, Malm, Sweden Kai Hansen ABB Corporate Research, ABB AS Billingstad, Norway

The device level, which contains I/O devices and instrumentation, is found one step further down towards the process. The number of I/O units (eg, Digital Input unit) in a plant is much larger than the number of controllers. Compo34

Another important consideration for all embedded devices in a system with

ABB Review 2/2006

Embedded product intelligence that enhances lifecycle management and performance in drive systems
Maciej Wnek, Michal Orkisz, Jaroslaw Nowak, Stefano Legnani Good products offer more when they are combined with comprehensive support and maintenance packages. Optimal performance and minimal costs can be achieved through service agreements over the lifecycle of a product, but effective lifecycle management requires continuous tracking of asset history operation, wear, damage, and maintenance. Careful monitoring of the condition and performance of assets allows the implementation of predictive maintenance programs that significantly reduce maintenance costs and the risk of failure. Without this information, performance suffers and maintenance costs rise. ABB Medium Voltage (MV) Drives, in cooperation wih ABB Corporate Research, has developed a new customer support system The DriveMonitorTM a software package that allows an operator to monitor the performance of an MV drive system, collect data and store the drives history, all from a remote computer. The system is being tested in the Gotthard base tunnel construction site in Switzerland and offers a significant improvement in lifecycle management tools.

ABB Review 2/2006



Embedded system technologies

eal plant systems comprise a wide variety of assets. Some are straightforward, simplistic even, while others are intelligent and capable of selfdiagnosis or even self-correction. Large and critical assets often come with their own supervisory control systems, but all of the assets in a process chain are information providers either directly, via built-in sensors, or indirectly, by reporting on other assets in the chain. All of these assets need careful monitoring.
Cost-effective data collection and processing

The second aspect is the availability of data: From whats already there to dedicated measuring systems that detect vibrations, current, corrosion etc. The third aspect relates to increasing levels of knowledge content and diagnostic functions: At one extreme is a simple limit threshold, at the other are advanced lifetime prediction algorithms. In order to keep tool costs down, maintenance systems should be flexible and able to accommodate a wide range of asset types. Similar assets should be treated similarly, but with individual attention dependent on their context in the system. For example, two electric motors might be identical, but if one is running a ventilation fan of low importance and the other a critical fume-exhaust fan, their maintenance programs would be similar, but the level of investment in each would differ according to their importance. A scalable system is not the same thing as a combination of different approaches that address different aspects of lifecycle management. To be efficient, a tool must guarantee full data interoperability, single data entry points, and unified interfacing, usage and reporting. Multiple systems can be combined in an IT integration project, but only a scalable tool can provide true maintenance optimization.

In short, individual assets must be assessed to determine the level of investment that can be justified by their individual roles in a process. A good condition assessment system is: expandable, to accommodate single or multiple asset objects able to apply rules of varying complexity to the assets vibrationbased, temperature-based, electrical test-based, operation data-based, statistics- and history-based etc. able to acquire data from various sources, eg, drive systems, control systems, vibration measuring tools, manual entries, and the asset itself. ABB used this methodology in the development of its Asset Optimization/Asset Monitors concepts and DriveMonitorTM is a part of this truly scalable solution 1 .
ABB Drives assets as knowledge containers.

An efficient lifecycle management system requires scalable tools that can be adapted to the nature of an asset, its value, status, and general maintenance policy. The first aspect to be considered is the comprehensiveness of the system, whether it be a single asset (eg, a drive), or a whole production line, which contains many assets.

MV drive an asset with a broad technology span and a rich information source Java/.Net



ABB MV Drives focuses attention on product design and development, but also on configuration and optimization in relation to customer applications. A quick look under the hood of a drive unit will immediately show that the technological complexity of this torque delivery plant ranges from copper bars to electronic circuit boards. Its software ranges from


3 2

DriveMonitorTM Analyzing the systems heartbeat

The DriveMonitor


design principles DriveMonitor Unit Industrial PC


Router Firewall Ethernet TCP/IP Optical Fibers NDBU 95

ACS drivers 1 ........... 5


ABB Review 2/2006


Embedded system technologies

assembler code to the newest highlevel languages. To obtain the highest possible performance from such a device over its entire lifetime requires some attention. However, drive units such as the MV Drive from ABB are represented by huge banks of data. This recorded information relates not only to the drive converter performance, but also to the driven equipment, and even to the whole downstream production process. Efficient use of these drive data is the first step towards lifecycle management initially for the converter itself and ultimately for the whole drive-powered process.

Ideally the asset should be intelligent enough to provide this information to the operator. Alternatively, the intelligence can be embedded as an asset extension intelligence that fully utilizes the data processed in the drive. The DriveMonitorTM system is designed to meet these requirements. On the one hand it provides continuous monitoring and analysis of the drive state and operation, supports root-cause analysis (RCA) and helps to follow predictive maintenance paths. On the other, it provides a platform upon which to offer the customer unique extension features that, by utilizing drive signals, allow the operator to visualize the whole shaft state, along with application-related KPIs, etc. In addition, customers can rely on the ABB Support Line1) with access to experts who can remotely monitor current situations.
Intelligent, scaleable and secure

al PC platform to provide the expected longevity and remote accessibility. Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions are used for remote access to ensure high security.
Scalability the biggest challenge

An efficient lifecycle management system requires scalable tools that can be adapted to the nature of an asset, its value, status, and general maintenance policy.
Efficient lifecycle management

A pragmatic approach to lifecycle management issues should answer the following questions: What should be done to the asset in order to maintain the highest performance and the lowest costs When should this action be taken?

The system comprises a hardware and a software layer 2 . The hardware layer is a properly interfaced industrial PC that is factory installed with the most powerful new ABB MV Drives (it is also available as an upgrade to existing models). The software layer automatically collects and analyses selected drive signals and parameters. The hardware is based on an industri-

The software layer is extremely flexible with respect to the configuration of diagnostic rules, the range of the assets with which it can be used, its alarm and reporting functions, and its data intake sources. Being compatible with ABBs Asset Monitor family, DriveMonitorTM opens the door to the whole ABB Asset Management portfolio, with Asset Optimizer and other Asset Monitors as optional extensions. It can be integrated easily into automation systems using the ABB 800xA platform (other systems can be connected through OPC2) Servers). The monitor is designed for use with a single drive, and with large systems. There are possibilities for expansion to include other measurements such as corrosion, vibrations, additional temperature sensors, etc. It provides millisecond-based sampling rates with year-based scheduling, event-driven actions and alarms, and more. The various components of the system can be distributed to different computers. For instance, several monitoring units can be configured in parallel to cover larger installations and the results can be brought to a central control room PC for operator convenience.

Extended support information facilitating root-cause analysis

In order to keep tool costs down, maintenance systems should be flexible and able to accommodate a wide range of asset types.
Scalability hardware dimension.

MV drive configuration can cover a broad range of products. Depending on the application, several rectifier and inverter units, each suitable for monitoring purposes, can be included in the set up. In order to acquire data

ABB Suport Line is one of the service products offered by MV Drives OPC-OLE for Process Control


ABB Review 2/2006



Embedded system technologies

quickly and reliably, multiple monitoring units can be configured around a single unit that acts as the access point for all the data acquisition. The central computer can again be placed in a control room. Similar system solutions can be configured for multi-drive units.

ABB MV Drives focuses attention on product design and development, but also on configuration and optimization in relation to customer applications.
Application area

determining the root cause of an event. Without such a tool, by the time a service engineer arrives on site, this information is lost, and some tell-tale events (such as threshold alarms) may be ignored if they did not lead directly to a fault. Altogether, the insight gained from the monitors data will lead to quicker elimination of faults and quicker identification of failing components, which result in more up-time for the customer. With extra diagnostic packages, DriveMonitorTM can follow other shaft-train components such as the main circuit breaker, the transformer, and the driven machine. At the highest level, specialist packages directly related to specific application areas (such as rolling mills, water pumps, and compressors) can be integrated into the system. This kind of expansion can be done at any point in time depending on the customers needs. It is also possible to incorporate extra measurements that go beyond the drive signals. In such cases, the DriveMonitorTM system, which can already incorporate data from several sources, can accommodate a number of off-theshelf solutions. DriveMonitorTM-based diagnostic routines are valuable extensions to any plant-level Asset Management program like ABB Asset Optimization solution.

Integrated in the bigger picture

ABBs Product Support organization ensures the efficient deployment of lifecycle management policies to drive products. Diagnostic tools such as DriveMonitorTM play a central role in the support system, but are part of an integrated approach to customer care that performs core maintenance functions, problem solving, spare part delivery and performance optimization.

DriveMonitorTM continuously monitors the drive status and responds when that status changes.
Concluding remarks

The basic function of the DriveMonitorTM is to watch the converter part of a drive shaft system 3 . It continuously monitors the drive status and responds when that status changes. Changes in drive status can be caused by drive faults (unexpected drive stoppages), alarms (signals crossing threshold values), user-defined parameter changes, and higher level, DriveMonitorTM-generated application-specific alarms. In this basic mode, when an event occurs, the software saves the current state and commences in-depth monitoring of relevant drive subsystems 4 . These data are critical to

DriveMonitorTM connects experts to most remote locations, here the Gotthard Tunnel construction site in Switzerland

Due to their complex role in industrial processes, drives generate and have access to large quantities of data. Though normally used to support a drives controlling function, these data can also be used for diagnostic purposes. No additional measures are necessary as the data are already available. ABBs drive monitoring solution exploits this opportunity to the benefits of its customers. The system is already being piloted at several industrial locations, including the Gotthard Tunnel construction site 5 , where a powerful ABB hoist machine has been installed, powered with a ACS6000 drive unit. The hoist machine is critical for the progress of the tunnel since it removes the spoils from the tunnel level up to the surface through an 800-m long shaft. DriveMonitorTM helps to optimize the machines performance and maintenance processes.

Maciej Wnek Michal Orkisz Jaroslaw Nowak ABB Corporate Research Krakow, Poland Stefano Legnani ABB MV Drives Turgi, Switzerland


ABB Review 2/2006

Wireless sensor networks

New-breed networking solutions for industrial automation
Niels Aakvaag, Jan-Erik Frey The vision of ubiquitous or pervasive computing prescribes a paradigm shift where the computing power is embedded in our environment rather than concentrated in desktop or laptop machines. This broad vision of the future has fuelled a number of narrowly defined research areas, among them wireless sensor networks.

wireless sensor network (WSN) is a network of many, spatially distributed devices using sensors to monitor conditions at different locations, such as temperature, sound, vibration, pressure, motion, or pollutants. The devices are self-contained units comprising a microcontroller, power source (usually, but not always, a battery), radio transceiver, and sensor element 1 .

Although a hot research topic, this rather classical view of a WSN has few interesting applications. For example, some authors in the field mention forest fire detection as an application of WSN. For the definition of WSN to be more applicable in an industrial setting it must be somewhat loosened and extended.
WSN in the world of industrial automation

traveling from its source to its destination, an industrial application will frequently require hard bounds on the maximum delay allowed. Finally, in contrast to a standard WSN, wireless solutions in industry tend to have a wired infrastructure. The data will emanate from the sensors and ripple through the network to some wired aggregation point. From here it will, in general, be transported over a high-speed bus to a controller. Apart from the classical mesh networking topology of WSN, there exist two

Because of the limitations on battery life, nodes are built with power conservation in mind, and generally spend large amounts of time in a lowpower sleep mode. The nodes selforganize their networks in an ad-hoc manner, rather than having a pre-programmed network topology. Also, WSN have the ability to self-heal, ie, if one node goes down, the network will find new ways to route the data packets. This way, the network as a whole will survive, even if individual nodes lose power or are destroyed.
ABB Review 2/2006

Industrial applications differ from the earlier definition in a number of respects. First, and maybe most importantly, all sensors are crucial to the operation of the plant. This implies that losing one node is not an option, even if the overall network stays operational. A faulty node will have to be replaced. Second, time is of the essence. Whereas a data packet in a standard WSN may spend an unknown time

Self-contained wireless sensor network device Radio transceiver


Power source



Wireless sensor networks

Embedded system technologies

more common topologies in industrial settings 2 . In the star topology, the most prevalent topology today, the wireless nodes communicate with a gateway device that bridges the communication to a wired network. An emerging common intermediate solution of WSN is to have router devices (often mains-powered) communicating with the gateway. The sensors only need to perform point-to-point communication with the routers and can therefore remain simple and lowpower, while the range and redundancy of the network itself is improved.
Benefits of WSN

mized. In addition, plug and produce configuration of the network enables deployment of temporary sensor networks for maintenance or troubleshooting purposes.
Applications and requirements

the order of minutes or even hours are commonplace. Reliability is a third parameter of interest. Depending on the specific application, there are a number of ways to improve the odds of a message reaching its destination. One possible way is by increasing the redundancy. Several methods are available. The message can be transmitted along different paths (space diversity), on different frequencies (frequency diversity), several times on the same frequency (time diversity), or even be sent using different modulation schemes (modulation scheme diversity). The latter is a complex method that would be employed only when the requirements are extremely strict and cost is less of an issue. Today, the office/consumer industry is the main driver for wireless technologies with high volume applications, each with relatively short lifetime requirements of the devices. Industrial devices, however, tend to require a much longer lifetime. This means that special care must be taken when integrating wireless components into industrial devices. A modular (hardware and software) design is crucial for enabling effective, life-cycle maintenance of devices that are built on standard commercially available components.
Embedded development challenges

The requirements of any WSN solution will always depend heavily on the particular application. Two specific Use Cases are considered next: discrete manufacturing and asset monitoring.

The benefits of wireless communication in industrial applications are numerous. Apart from increased reliability, the most cited advantage is the low cost of installation. Industrial sites are often harsh environments with stringent requirements on the type and quality of cabling. Avoiding the use of cables results in cheaper installations. This is particularly true for retro-fit, where it may be difficult to engineer additional wires in an already congested site. Even if the textbook definition is not directly applicable to industrial settings, WSN introduces new networking techniques that help to further reduce the cost of installing wireless sensors. The ad-hoc nature of WSN allows for easy setup and configuration, a task that should not be underestimated once the network grows in size. To support plant-wide coverage of wireless sensors, manual network configuration work must be mini-

The nodes self-organize their networks in an adhoc manner, rather than having a pre-programmed network topology.
Both Use Cases have low power requirements, although the actual energy source may vary (energy storage in batteries, energy scavenging from ambient energy sources, wireless energy transfer such as inductive coupling, etc). For both Use Cases, the unit cannot dissipate more than a maximum of a few milliwatts (mW) of average power. In discrete manufacturing, the latency of the system is crucial. There is a hard limit on the maximum latency, beyond which the system will malfunction. This is typically a few tens of milliseconds. For asset monitoring, however, latency is much less critical. It obviously depends on the asset being monitored, but update times on

Common topologies of wireless sensor networks

S S S S G R S S S S S R G R S S G Gateway S Sensor R Router S Sensor with router S R S R S S S S S G S

An embedded system can be defined in a number of ways. One good example is: . . . a specialized computer system that is part of a larger system or machine [1]. The operative word here is specialized. An embedded system has a single purpose and performs one unique task. When making dedicated systems, such as a WSN, it therefore has its own requirements, particular to the problem at hand. The design of the embedded system includes aspects of both hardware and software. The two are intertwined and the optimum solution, if indeed one can be found, involves interaction between them.
Choosing the building blocks


One important aspect of WSN is to keep the power consumption of a node at a minimum, while at the same
ABB Review 2/2006


Wireless sensor networks

Embedded system technologies

time provide the best possible performance to the system users.

sumption. Some communication protocols are notoriously inefficient and even the smartest embedded programEVENT_timer_wake Designing for low consumpming in the world cannot ACTION_power_up_CPU tion involves choosing low lower the consumption to an ACTION_power_up_sensor power components. This may acceptable level. Others are SLEEP WAIT_FOR_VALUE seem trivial, but it is often a designed to give low conEVENT_difference_small complex issue. The first pasumption without unduly ACTION_power_down_CPU rameter to consider is the compromising communication ACTION_power_down_sensor power consumption in norperformance. The Wireless mal operating mode for the Interface to Sensors and ActuWAIT_FOR_ CPU, sensor, radio transceivators (WISA)1) [2], [3] platform ACKNOWLEDGE EVENT_acknowledge_OK EVENT_difference_large is one such low power protoer, and possibly other ACTION_power_down_radio ACTION_power_down_sensor col. The high performance elements, such as external ACTION_power_down_CPU ACTION_power_up_radio ACTION_send_value can be attributed to two facmemory and peripherals. tors: single-hop and Time Choosing low power eleDivision Multiplexing (TDM). ments usually involves comThe former avoids delays in intermesensor, CPU and transceiver on and off, promises on performance. Typically, a diate nodes. The latter guarantees that with the right timing. In the following, low power CPU runs on reduced clock a node will be alone on the channel, a node is consider as example that cycle with fewer on-chip features than needs to wake up at regular intervals to ie there will be no collisions. its more power-hungry counterparts. transmit a sensor value, but only if the The trick is to choose elements with The recently developed ZigBee specilatter differs from the previous value just enough performance to do the job. fication [4] with the underlying by more than a predetermined margin. 802.15.4 protocol is more general, After the data has been sent over the It is important that the sleep-mode but will have lower communication radio channel, the unit waits for an acpower consumption is low. It is often performance. It specifies multi-hop, knowledgment message indicating that possible to switch off the power to where a message can use several the packet has been correctly received. the sensor and the transceiver comradio hops to get to its destination. The required software behavior is best pletely. However, the CPU will need Nodes do not have specific timeslots explained using what is known as a some form of sleep mode from which allocated, but have to contend for state diagram: a schematic representait can be woken. Low consumption in channel access. This lets more users tion of the state the software is in, the this sleep mode is absolutely crucial access the wireless medium, but introevents that may cause it to move from for the overall power budget. duces uncertainty, as delay and the one state to another and the actions power consumption increase when a associated with each state transition 3 . One aspect that is often overlooked is node has to wait its turn. In addition, the time that the elements need to intermediate nodes dont know when turn on and off. For example, the In the star topology, the they may be called upon to route transceiver will need some minimum wireless nodes communi- packets for others. It is, therefore, time for its oscillators to stabilize. advisable to have intermediate nodes, While waiting, both the transceiver cate with a gateway also known as router nodes, that are and the CPU burn power. This condevice that bridges the mains powered (see network topolosumption needs to be minimized. The same obviously holds true when communication to a wired gy 2 ). powering up the CPU and the sensor. network. In short, the WISA protocol is well adapted to the requirements of disFinally, one must ensure that all the Note that in the system described, the crete manufacturing, provided the sinnecessary elements can be controlled units are powered up only when they gle-hop condition is met. Conversely, by the CPU. It is the master in the are needed, thus minimizing power ZigBee is ideally suited for asset monsystem and needs to have complete dissipation. itoring applications, assuming the control over all functional blocks. router nodes have access to mains System issues Protocol issues power. Communication protocols are often In addition to utilizing low power fixed, having been chosen for a particelectronics and a clever sleep/wakeup Different hardware and software ular purpose. Available resources scheme, the communication protocol methods have a direct impact on the should be used within the acceptable has a vital impact on the final power power consumption of the devices 4 . No effort has been made to quantify limits of the specification. No compoconsumption of the system. the various effects. These will depend nent that is not in use should be on the particular WSN to be develpowered up. The task is consequently Details in the communication protocol oped. reduced to switching units, such as the dictate the lower bounds of the con3

Events and actions that cause transition of software from one state to another

ABB Review 2/2006


Wireless sensor networks

Embedded system technologies


Modular design is necessary in order to reuse elements. Yet it places restrictions on the design and care must be taken to ensure that interfaces between modules, hardware as well as software, are sufficiently general to allow portability. One classical example of the separation of modules is the split between the communication protocol and the application software. The latter is invariably written by ABB, but the former is frequently purchased from a third party. Embedding these two components onto the same microcontroller can be difficult. Even more complex is handling new releases, bug fixes, and documentation, when the software running on the same processor has several sources. The risk of sub-optimizing is also high, ie the two software modules are optimized (with respect to power, performance, code size, etc) individually. This does not necessarily give a globally optimum solution. Modularity can also be achieved at a lower level. The communication protocol can be seen as consisting of several blocks, known as the Open Standards Interface (OSI) layers. Given a healthy design procedure, one may be able to exchange a single layer with

one from a different source. Obviously, the more the code is split up, the more modular it becomes. At the same time, the sub-optimization increases, yielding a less than perfect solution.

There are currently a number of initiatives underway for standardizing WSN for industrial use. One of the bestknown is the ZigBee standard, a low power, low cost, low data rate, wireless specification that targets home appliances, toys, industrial applications and the like. Recently, the ZigBee Alliance has started work on a profile for Industrial Plant Monitoring. Another important initiative, the wireless HART specification [5], aims to extend this well-known standard into the wireless domain, opening up the market to the large number of HART users. It will specify profiles and Use Cases that are directly applicable for wireless control. A third on-going initiative is the ISASP100 [6]. Instead of standardizing all elements in the system, ISA-SP100 specifies only the upper levels in the stack, with a number of potential lower level implementations. In these early days it is hard to say which of these initiatives will prevail.

Eventually, the end customers will decide, based on performance and availability of products. The challenge is to adopt the dominant standard in an optimal manner, ie use as much as possible of the standard, while fulfilling the mission-critical requirements, and effectively maintaining/upgrading the implementation. The advent of wireless sensor networks brings many new and exciting technologies into the world of industrial automation. The key technological challenge is to keep power consumption of the sensor nodes to a minimum, while providing the best possible performance to the system users. The second challenge is to create a modular system design that allows devices to be maintained throughout their lifetimes, while fulfilling all mission-critical application requirements.

Niels Aakvaag ABB Corporate Research Billingstad, Norway Jan-Erik Frey ABB Automation Technologies Vsters, Sweden

Hardware and software methods that directly impact power consumption of devices SW Architecture Synchronization mechanism (polled, fixed time slots), modulation scheme, RF transmission technique, etc..... Data package size (size of payload, size of header, CRC, etc) Contention-free Media Access (eg., TDMA) Single Hop

References [1] Webopedia, embedded_system.html [2] Jan-Erik Frey, Andreas Kreitz, Guntram Scheible; Unplugged but connected: Part 1 Redefining wireless, ABB Review 3/2005. [3] Jan-Erik Frey, Jan Endresen, Andreas Kreitz, Guntram Scheible; Unplugged but connected:

Communication Protocol

Contention-based Media Access (eg. CDMA)

Part 2 Wireless sensors and effectors in industrial control, ABB Review 4/2005. [4] ZigBee Alliance,

Multi Hop

[5] HART Communication Foundation, [6] ISA-SP100,

Power-down of components during idle operation Shutdown/Startup Time Power consumption during normal operation Power consumption during sleep mode Controllable via the CPU

WISA is an ABB proprietary protocol based on standard low-cost hardware (2.4 GHz radio transceivers), but enhanced by a protocol that specifically addresses real-time factory automation at the field device level.

HW Components


ABB Review 2/2006

High performance Ethernet

ABB broadens its range of Ethernet-compatible devices
Kai Hansen Industrial control systems comprise a large number of different embedded devices (eg, sensors, actuators, controllers) and a number of computers that work together to control a physical system. Such systems can control an enormous variety of installations, including process plants, power generation and distribution systems, car manufacturing factories and air condition systems in shopping malls. ABB supplies control systems and a huge number of embedded devices designed for use in such applications. While some applications require only low-tech control, based on individual components that work in isolation, more and more customers require devices that are able to communicate with each other, exchanging information and providing operators with data and status updates on demand. Good communication solutions are as much a part of ABB devices as their ease of use and their reliability. Customers can choose their device based on the needs of their system and assume that ABB quality and efficient communications will be provided as standard. As the market moves towards an increased use of Ethernet to provide for its communications needs, ABB is enhancing its range of Ethernet-compatible devices.

he trend towards Ethernet in industrial plants is partly motivated by its high performance to cost ratio and its ability to support fiber optics, electrical cables and wireless technologies in a single system. Another attraction is that Ethernets associated TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/ internet protocol) technologies provide a network infrastructure that can
ABB Review 2/2006

be managed in a unified way. This streamlines infrastructure deployment and maintenance, providing savings on training and spare part supply. The communications needs of the office world differ from those of industry, as do the needs of the embedded devices in different industrial applications. One typical industrial

requirement is for real-time control responses. If communication solutions are involved in a control loop, response time is critical. The acceptable delay in response time is determined by the physical or chemical laws governing the process under control. When controlling high voltage AC currents, for example, acceptable delays could be only a few millisec43

High performance Ethernet communication

Embedded system technologies

onds, and in mechanical motion control, the tolerance could be less than a millisecond. In chemical reactions, which tend to be much slower, a onesecond delay of the actuator action might be acceptable, but meeting strict deadlines is still required because once it has started, a chemical reaction will never wait. Communications solutions must accommodate this range of requirements, either in a single solution, or by combining multiple technologies.
Throughput and reliability

currently in use, the most promising of which are FF HSE, PROFINET, EtherNet/IP, Modbus TCP and certain specialized solutions intended for motion control. The theoretical limit on throughput of data using Ethernet cables and fibers is not a serious problem in most automation applications. However, the capacity of the central processing units (CPUs) of embedded devices can form a bottleneck in the flow of communication on the network, and this problem must be given serious attention. The efficiency of stack implementation in an embedded device is the single most important issue for throughput. If the limiting factor is the processors ability to parse a protocol, upgrading a very small CPU in a device close to the field level from 10 Mbit/s Ethernet to 1 Gbit/s Ethernet might not increase throughput at all. A bandwidth of 10 Mbit/s is normally sufficient for such a device. To provide the required efficiency in stack traversal, some of the standard protocols that are typically used with Ethernet office applications must be modified or used in combination with other protocols.

The throughput and reliability of a communications system are also critical factors in choosing a communications solution. Again, different applications have different requirements. Throughput demands can influence the real-time abilities for a system, since heavy loadings can destroy realtime responses. The physical element of a communications solution defines primary design choices. Ethernet on copper cables and optical fibers is an extremely efficient system, with very little noise and small losses due to noise. Wireless communication is less reliable and a significant number of data packets can be lost. Protocol software will ensure that lost packets are re-sent, but this reduces throughput and real-time responses. If, on the other hand, the cable or fiber is seriously damaged, no software will get the message through. This problem can be solved only by building physical redundancy into the communication interfaces in the form of a second or even third cable or fiber. However, the introduction of redundancy can lead to complication of the user interface. Over the past few years, the convention in the automation market has been to use Fieldbus for connecting to process equipment and Ethernet for connecting terminals, servers and controllers. The trend now is to extend the use of Ethernet beyond controllers, moving it closer to the field and imposing greater demands in terms of real-time requirements, reliability and safety. This requires the provision of good Ethernet-compatible embedded solutions and standardized protocols for the communication of data on Ethernet. A number of protocols are

resend after a quasi-random waiting time. If a number of such collisions occurred consecutively, then the delay would become significant and hard to predict. New Ethernet systems, however, are based on full-duplex switch technology, in which such collisions do not occur. Each device has a dedicated physical line to a switch, and switches will store and forward all data packets. If the port to the next switch or device happens to be in use, the switch will put the packet in a queue and send it when the port becomes available. This technology provides real-time responses that are adequate for the vast majority of industrial applications. For more demanding applications, such as motion control, it is possible to alter the Ethernet low-level protocol to produce a highly deterministic time-slotted system. This can be achieved using the

The throughput and reliability of a communications system are critical factors in choosing a communications solution.
A comparison of the measured delay time for UDP/IP traffic on Windows XP operating systems running on a 2.5 GHz Pentium processor 1 shows that, even with such a fast processor, the majority of time is spent handling the message in the processor. With a 1-Gbit/s Ethernet, the network delay is very short indeed.
Real-time requirements

Real-time requirements pose a particular problem for old-fashioned Ethernet systems that are based on coaxial cables or hubs. Such systems were equipped with collision detection such that, if two devices tried to send data simultaneously (or near simultaneously), both data packets would be lost and each device would attempt to
ABB Review 2/2006

High performance Ethernet communication

Embedded system technologies

PROFINET IRT, EtherCAT, Ethernet POWERLINK and SERCOS III technologies.

A measurement of the delay time for UDP/IP traffic on Windows XP operating systems running on a 2.5 GHz Pentium processor [1]

Stack traversal Network delay (theoretical minimum) Alternatively, the stringent Interrupt related latencies real-time requirements for motion control can be met by synchronizing local 125 s Windows XP 100 Mbps clocks 2 . This can be 106 s Windows XP 1 Gbps achieved using normal Eth0 25 50 75 100 125 Implementation ernet packets, though it s A standard Ethernet board is does present some challengadequate for some products, es for implementation. One but in ABB devices, Ethernet is usualnode is designated the time master chemical and off-shore oil installaly integrated into specially designed and it provides time information to all tions, and in mechanized industries. hardware. Ethernet-compatible proother nodes, where it used to use to cessors, which may be required to set local clocks. The dominant stanEthernet systems can also be certified work at particular temperatures or dards for synchronization are NTP for safety. Since it would be impractiunder other specialist conditions, are (Network Time Protocol), SNTP (Simcal to impose the IEC 61508 safety available from a number of suppliers, ple Network Time Protocol) and PTP standard on all software and hardware eg, PowerPCs (from Motorola or IBM), (Precise Time Protocol, IEEE 1588). involved in an Ethernet system, safety ColdFire processors, and ARM-based A number of ABB products support certification relies on the concept of chips. The functional requirements these standards. For example, the ingray channels. This can be, for exwill determine the choice of processor dustrial DCS controller AC800M supample, TCP/IP with a process-specific many variations are available, with ports SNTP and the PicMaster Robot layer on top 3 , creating a new layer differing levels of communication supports IEEE 1588. The main source support. Specialized chips are now of inaccuracy in time synchronization 2 Stringent real-time requirements for motion becoming available to support the is the jitter in the execution of the control can be solved by synchronizing special motion control variants of software that timestamps the arrival of local clocks Ethernet. These are either an ASIC, an Ethernet telegram at the node. It is typically with an ARM CPU built in, important to make timestamping as Controller or an FPGA to handle the lower level fast as possible. It should occur in the Receiving sensor values with Ethernet protocols. first interrupt routine for Ethernet, or local time stamps even earlier, ie, in the hardware beThe future fore the operating system of the emEthernet Ethernet is an important emerging bedded units start. Good software imSensor 1 Sensor 2 trend in the industrial market. It is plementation can gain a few microsecalready supported by a number of onds in this process, while a hardware existing ABB products but, as its imsolution might bring accuracy down Local clock Local clock portance grows, more of ABB embedto 100 nanoseconds. Sensor Sensor ded devices will be developed to element element support this high-performance comThe efficiency of stack munications system.

in the communication protocol. This safety layer has very high quality implementation and can discover all relevant errors that could occur in the gray channel. For PROFINET, this layer is the PROFIsafe layer and for EtherNet/ IP, this is the CIP safety layer.

implementation in an embedded device is the single most important issue for throughput.

The layers of a typical communication protocol

Safety application Safety layer Process layer TCP layer IP layer Physical layer Gray channel

Safety application Safety layer

If the system under control poses a threat to human health or the environment, governments require proof that adequate safety and emergency equipment is in place. Such safety control systems must comply with international standards, such as IEC 61508, which is based on the SIL (safety integrated level) categories for equipment and communication. SIL 2 and SIL 3 are usually demanded in chemical, petroABB Review 2/2006

Kai Hansen
Process layer TCP layer IP layer Physical layer

ABB AS Billingstad, Norway

Ethernet cable/fiber

[1] G. Prytz, S. Johannessen. Real-time Performance Measurements using UDP on Windows and Linux, ETFA 2005.


Fieldbuses for drives

Embedded fieldbus communication
Ilpo Ruohonen The technology permitting drives to be networked with controllers is often built directly into the drive. The benefits for the customer are simplified wiring, increased reliability and lower total installation costs. Although fieldbuses have been around for more than ten years, recent years have seen an increase in focus on application of this technology for drives. One of the problems that has impeded the rapid adoption of fieldbus technology has been the lack of standardization. In the early days, many companies offered proprietary solutions. As these proprietary solutions limidet flexibility, many customers expressed a need for a standard fieldbus. Several competing alliances were created that all strived to develop an open fieldbus that would establish itself as standard. The result is that today there exists a plethora of standards for open fieldbuses. Manufacturers such as ABB have responded by investing in such technology. In this context, ABB uses the concept of universal connectivity. To understand what this concept implies, a closer look should be taken at fieldbus technology. fieldbus is a fully digital and duplex1) data transmission system that connects intelligent field devices and automation systems to an industrial plants network. A fieldbus replaces conventional wired I/O control. It also differs from point-to-point connections, which allow only two participating devices to exchange data. A fieldbus transfers information sequentially and is often referred to as a serial communication. To make sure that two devices can communicate over a serial link, a protocol must be agreed on that defines the meaning of each bit in a stream of data. To facilitate the description of a serial communications protocol, engineers often refer to an OSI model that identifies seven layers 1 . All layers together are called the communication stack. Each layer in the stack defines a set of functions.


ABB Review 2/2006

Fieldbuses for drives

Embedded system technologies

Rather than standardizing the complete communication stack, standards are defined for each layer in the stack, or even for a specific function in a layer. The partly explains the wide array of fieldbus protocols that is available today.

The layers of the OSI model and their places in the protocol stack

ProfiNet Application Presentation Session Transport Network Fieldbus HSE

Modbus/TCP EtherNet/IP

TCP/UDP TCP/IP IP IEEE 802.1 Ethernet IEEE 802.3

The lower layers of the communication stack, the physical layer and the data link layer, are determined by the hardware. The upper layers are implemented using software alone. This distinction helps explain how universal connectivity can be achieved and also how this concept depends on recent developments in embedded control.
Universal connectivity

Data Link Physical

It will allow a standardized network architecture using components that are widely used. Another advantage is that it enables a scalable network architecture. This makes it easier for customers to take advantage of future technical advances compared with proprietary networks. Further, many people are familiar with Internet technology, so that less training will be needed and development time can be shortened.

The second trend is the rise of industrial Ethernet technology. This technology is relatively new, but promises a major advance in industrial communications. Ethernet applies to the lower two layers of the protocol stack shown in 1 .

In the absence of a single international standard for the hardware of a protocol, manufacturers have standardized the interface to their own equipment and developed adapters for the different protocols that plug into this interface. Because of continuous miniaturization, these protocol adapters have become smaller and cheaper and are now available as options that are directly built into the drive. Some standardization of the hardware has taken place, which means that different protocols can be implemented using the same hardware solution. Recent developments in embedded control now make it now possible to implement the upper layers of the protocol stack by simply downloading different software into the field device. This combination of small adapters and downloadable software makes it simple for customers to obtain a drive that easily integrates into their system. ABB supports a wide array of fieldbus protocols, permitting customers to choose a drive independent of the automation system.
Trends in fieldbus technology

Industrial Ethernet is a relatively new development but its adoption is progressing very quickly.
Most of the functionality of a fieldbus is defined in the application layer of the protocol stack, but the lower layers are important for the performance. In many systems, the control loops that are closed by the fieldbus need to be fast and need to enable synchronized device responses as can be found in manufacturing automation. In the past this behavior was realized by implementing a physical layer that behaved in a deterministic manner. Ethernet is in principal non-deterministic, but today it is possible to implement an Ethernet protocol with bit rates of up to 1000 Mbps. This is so fast that for most practical purposes, the control loops that can be implemented behave in a deterministic manner. On top of the Physical and Data Link layers one can run the TCP/IP protocols that are familiar from the Internet. The result is fieldbus that is compatible with the control buses that are typically used in the higher levels of the control architecture. The most obvious benefit of Ethernet is that it is based on a open standard.

Industrial Ethernet is a relatively new development but its adoption is progressing very quickly it will not be long before fieldbuses build on Industrial Ethernet will dominate the market. This is good news for customers, because it increases their manufacturing flexibility.
Where do these developments lead?

For ABB Drives, industrial Ethernet is another important step towards the company vision of the universal connectivity. Shipments of industrial Ethernet have been growing at a rate of 60 percent per year and there is no abating. Because Ethernet is so widely used in office networks, plants and factories will enjoy the high speed, low cost, wide availability, and compatibility with office networks that Ethernet offers. Bringing Internet technology into the drive will enable many new applications. Once the drive is given an IP address many functions can be performed remotely. Diagnostics are also improving. This is prerequisite to further improvements in preventive maintenance and the resulting increase in the availability of plant equipment.

Ilpo Ruohonen ABB Oy Helsinki, Finland

The first trend is the continuous rise of fieldbus use. Today around 40 percent of the drives use a fieldbus for remote control. This trend is driven by the falling cost of fieldbus control, as well as by the trend towards increased automation.
ABB Review 2/2006


A half-duplex channel is one that can carry information in both directions, but not at the same time. A full-duplex channel can carry information in both directions simultaneously.


Motor medical
Around-the-clock screening and protection of motor health
Rajesh Tiwari No motor needs to be an island. Whereas electric motors were once considered connected when the bus bars and drive shaft were correctly attached, network connectivity is growing in importance. Communication networks are permitting advanced control, coordination, diagnosis and maintenance planning. Drawing on progress in embedded intelligence and fieldbus technology, ABBs MNS iS motor control center is a new advanced generation for low voltage MCC applications.

n a modern industrial environment, Intelligent Motor Control System (IMCS) technology is considered mature and is widely accepted. Following the emergence of open field bus technology more than a decade ago, intelligent switchgear has rapidly gained ground in terms of user confidence. Communication robustness and response time suitability make the technology reliable for real-time applications. Additionally, the ongoing pursuit of lower equipment life-cycle costs has leveraged a platform for flexible engineering that provides shorter commissioning times, more information, better diagnosis, predictive maintenance and simplified troubleshooting all leading to less downtime. Table IMCS technology is, however, in the midst of a further pivotal change. Customers are seeking further productivity gains through better overall plant uptime and coordination of operations and maintenance. Central to achieving this is delivery of the right information to the right people at the right time. This would not be possible without the appropriate embedded connectivity. System architecture and communication configura48

tions are adapting to better meet this demand Table . ABB was ahead of its time in recognizing this trend and reflecting it in its MNS iS switchgear. Significantly, ABBs implementation offers a scalable approach. This means customers can add, modify or enhance their system configurations at any stage of the project life cycle.
Internal Switchgear BUS: Robust and real time communication

MNS iS switchgear communication is Ethernet-based yet deterministic and real time. The ability of Ethernet for speed, robust performance, simplicity of network configuration and the ability

to communicate with several starters simultaneously are fully exploited in MNS iS. However, the stigma of Ethernet being non deterministic was carefully avoided by embedding a Real Time Application Interface (RTAI) providing deterministic timing and fast task switching. RTnet was adopted as Ethernet network stack. RTnet implements UDP/IP1), ICMP2) and ARP3) in a deterministic manner. To avoid unpredictable collisions and congestions on Ethernet, an additional layer called RTmac controls the media access. The need for the switchgear network (Ethernet-switchgear bus) to be separate from the process control network (Ethernet-process control) is achieved by adopting the 10Base-I4) physical Ethernet standard.
MNS iS system configuration variability

Market trends for low voltage switchgears Todays situation Optional Single master Connectivity Point to point Too much and not in context Dedicated Trends for tomorrow Embedded (In-built by design) Multiple mastership Meaningful integration Multiple combinations yet highly optimized Pertinent and precise to operator need Scalable and possible to enhance at any stage of project life cycle Specific and Ethernet based

Product aspects Intelligence/ communications Communication DCS Communication Configurations Information Communication possibilities Communication

Any fieldbus

Process industry MCC applications require various different system configurations to meet different customer plant operation philosophies or sitedependent demands on information flow. In MNS iS the customers external control system can access: 1) Motor starters via the central communication unit: This approach allows simultaneous access to multiple control locations on different communication interfaces.
ABB Review 2/2006

Motor medical

Embedded system technologies

2) Alternatively, direct fieldbus connection5) to the individual motor starter level: This approach allows a single control station to access a specific motor starter. The best of both the worlds can be achieved by combining the approaches 1 and 2. To add to customer confidence for higher plant availability redundant configuration is also supported.
MNS iS OPC Server capabilities

tion and maintenance. Using OPC, customers can connect to operator stations, maintenance systems etc. directly without having to program DCS6) or PLCs7).

Motor control center

MNS iS all about information flow to the right operator at the right time.
By using OPC Servers provided within the scope of MNS iS, additional information for operators can be added to the faceplates without routing to DCS/ PLC controllers. Alarm and event handling is totally automated so operator stations obtain motor-starter relevant alarms and time-tagged events directly from MNS iS. Alternatively, only the maintenance relevant information can be taken to the electrical maintenance system or SCADA package. With this approach the information required can be presented as required and where it is needed. There is no more need for data routing programming in the PLCs engendering huge engineering efforts or suboptimal PLC performance no application programs needs to be implemented for data transfer. MNS iS all about information flow to the right operator at the right time.

The OPC (OLE Object Linking and Embedding for Process Control) interface used in MNS iS worth mentioning. OPC is a standardized way of handling additional information that is not mission critical, but nevertheless important for successful plant operaMNS iS offers great ease in handling

Advantages at a glance
Rajesh Tiwari

The MNS iS switchgear bus is built in. All MNS iS components on the switchgear bus are pluggable. Customers are relieved from the pains of wiring. MNS iS offers complete communication integrity with predictable behavior. The operational safety of motor is ensured against: Breakdown in communicationMNS iS continuously monitors the communication integrity from the motor starter to the external control system (DCS: Distributed Control System) at all times. Should communication break down, the motor is led to a pre-defined safe state. Unauthorized Motor Control- the MNS iS motor starter unit can be accessed from multiple control

stations. Operational safety and integrity is safeguarded and unauthorized or unintended control operations prevented by controlled user access right mechanism. MNS iS provides: DCS Communication on Industry Standard open field bus Profibus DP-V1, Modbus TCP and OPC Interface (Profinet implementation in pipeline) Web Browser connectivity for touch panel local HMI (Human Machine Interface) Direct field bus connectivity to motor starters on Profibus DP-V1, Device Net or Modbus RTU.*
* development pipeline

ABB Switzerland Ltd Zurich, Switzerland


UDP (User Data Protocol) is a protocol on the transport level of the communication stack (see also the figure on page 47). It is faster than TCP but does not offer the same level of determinism or guarantee that packets are received in he order they are sent.


ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) is a protocol on the network level of the communication stack (like IP). Its most frequent use is for sending error messages.


ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) is another network level protocol. It resolves the hardware address of a device from its protocol address.


10Base-I is the physical layer of 10 Mbps Industrial Ethernet. Profinet implementation is in the pipeline. DCS: Distributed Control System PLC: Programmable Logic Controller

5) 6) 7)

ABB Review 2/2006


Making power lines sing

Communication keeps the power flowing
Stefan Ramseier, Hermann Spiess The safe and reliable transmission of power depends on continuous coordination between different points in the network. From a simple telephone conversation between operators to the automated control and monitoring of remote equipment, a robust and dependable communications infrastructure is a prerequisite for efficient operation. Power network operators use a broad range of communication channels including their own power lines. ABB draws on 64 years of experience of data transmission on power lines. The companys latest product, the ETL600, breaks new ground in offering extensive functionality. It is easy to configure (taking just a couple of mouse clicks to set up) and to upgrade (through the straight-forward installation of new software) thereby ensuring that the customer remains at the forefront of technology for years to come. n efficient communication network is the backbone of modern power systems 1 . Power utility operators communicate with each other to coordinate actions and exchange all kinds of operational information. The communication network conveys signals for the remote control of unmanned stations, transferring data and load values from sites across the power system to central control, and transmitting central control commands to sites. Most crucially, the communication network carries many of the vital signals that are exchanged in real time between different locations to ensure optimum control and protection of the power system. In short, communication networks help power utilities keep electricity flowing all the way from generator to consumer. Traditional utility communication systems were predominantly hardwarebased modules, tailored to customer specifications. Todays embedded systems, such as ABBs ETL600 Power Line Carrier (PLC) system, are based on a powerful, flexible hardware platform and a number of versatile software modules. This technology allows the configuration of a complex system with a few mouse clicks, and even to extend functionality in the future with the download of additional software modules.
50 ABB Review 2/2006

Making power lines sing

Embedded system technologies

What and how do electric utilities communicate?

Ready to talk? An overview of a communication network

ABBs utility-communications expertise is founded on experience gained from installations in electrical power utilities in over 140 countries. This experience, allied to proven solutions, is especially important in protection signaling where communication enables protection systems to clear a line fault in the shortest possible time, or to isolate primary plant components directly affected by a fault, while maintaining the availability of all other components. The enhanced functionality and performance of ABBs communication systems increase both the quantity and quality of information available for operational and management functions. Enabling all business units within a power utility to have ready access to this information means the same information can be used for the remote control of substations and for evaluation purposes, minimizing operation and maintenance costs. For modern power utilities, powerful and reliable communications services are absolutely vital for the control, supervision and administration of power system operations 2 . Rapid developments in technology in recent years, together with the continuing deregulation of power markets, have significantly changed the communications requirements of power utilities. There are three major communication technologies used in the Wide-Area-Network (WAN) to meet these requirements: PLC, optical fiber and microwave radio. Established PLC techniques play an important role owing to their high reliability, relatively low cost and long distance reach. For higher transmission capacities, broadband systems based on optical fibers can handle both operational and administrative power utility data, and depending on a utilitys strategy and on legal regulations even provide commercial telecommunications services. Because microwave radio communication is
ABB Review 2/2006

be capable of reliably transmitting a signal to the remote end of the line, in the shortest possible time and under extreme interference conditions that might be caused by a fault in the power system. On the other hand, interference on the communications channel must never cause unwanted operation of the protection, for example, by simulating a tripping or blocking signal at the receiving end when no such signal has been transmitted at the sending end.
Power Line Carrier

not restricted to power line routes, it can, in certain circumstances, offer an advantageous alternative, especially in difficult terrain (on mountains and islands, for instance).

Power lines are used not only to carry electrical power, but also to transmit communication signals.
Typical applications supported by utility communication systems include Local Area Network (LAN) interconnections, video surveillance, remote diagnostics and support, distribution automation, automatic meter reading and standard telecom services. The main applications for operational communications are power system control, power line protection and operational telephone services. As the first two are most crucial to the operation of the power system, they are explained in some detail here. The availability of electric power is largely dependent on the reliability of the power control system. Accordingly, control systems, and in particular the associated communications equipment, must function reliably under worstcase operating conditions. Typical power system control applications include telecontrol (supervisory control and data acquisition or SCADA) and Energy Management Systems (EMS). Teleprotection equipment, operating in conjunction with line protection, must

Power Line Carrier Systems have long been used by electric power utilities for the transmission of vital information for the operation and protection of the electric power grid, ie, voice, protection commands and control signals. Thus, power lines are used not only to carry electrical power (at 50 Hz or 60 Hz), but also to transmit communication signals (typically at frequencies between 40 kHz and 500 kHz). Special coupling devices are used to connect the communication terminals to high-voltage power lines. The use of existing power lines for communications is a meaningful choice, because these provide the most direct link for teleprotection (where speed is crucial), they are reliable and they are completely under the control of the power utility, which is important, especially in countries with deregulated telecommunication markets. Furthermore, power lines are an excellent communication medium that can bridge very long distances (several hundred kilometers) without a repeater.
From valves to embedded systems

The first PLC link was put in operation by ABB in 1942 3 , and in the past 64 years, thousands of links have been installed in more than 120 countries, at voltage levels of up to 1100kV AC and 500 kV DC, covering a total length of more than one million kilometers. Over more than six decades, each new generation of PLC equipment has been developed using the cutting

Making power lines sing

Embedded system technologies

edge technology of its day,as indeed is still happening today. Hence, many of the technological breakthroughs in electronics and telecommunications of the last few decades are reflected in the development of PLC equipment. The first PLC systems used valves, and information was transmitted much as it is in todays AM radio systems: Analog waveforms (no digital signals or bits) are modulated to the desired frequency (eg between 40 kHz and 500 kHz). The signal on the power lines appears twice there is a mirrored copy of the original (double side band). In the early fifties, the required frequency band a very

scarce resource was reduced by a factor of two, eliminating the mirrored signal (single side band, SSB). This SSB technology is still used in todays systems, and also in some short-wave radio systems. In the mid-fifties, valves were replaced, first by germanium transistors, then in the early sixties by silicon transistors, and, most recently, in the mid-seventies by integrated circuits. In the early nineties, it became possible for the user to tailor the PLC system to actual needs by programming it with switches and jumpers. The next technological breakthrough came in the late nineties with the in-

troduction of ABBs ETL500, the first embedded numeric PLC system. The system was no longer configured only by switches and jumpers, but mainly with a graphical user interface (GUI) running on a personal computer (PC). The signals inside the ETL500 system were no longer processed in analog waveforms, but in digital bit streams. Many of the complex analog components, such as oscillators, mixers and filters, were replaced by mathematical operations executed inside a Digital Signal Processor (DSP). Such a DSP (similar to a processor inside a PC, but designed for specific numbercrunching applications) can perform complex operations at blazing speed.

PLC system overview Transport of Electrical Energy

Substation Line trap

HV line impedance Z

Line trap Substation

The first PLC systems used valves, and information was transmitted much as it is in todays AM radio systems: analog waveforms.
Another technology leap was made possible by the pioneering work in digital modulation and coding. Digital communication is now part of everyday life, be it in cellular phones, fax machines, CDs, DVDs, digital satellite or terrestrial TV and radio broadcast or MP3 players, to name but a few. In order to visualize the way in which technical advances have altered the conditions of daily life, consider how telephone lines were and are used to carry digital information with the help of so-called modems. Initially, a technology called Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) was used and, in 1962, a data rate of 300 bit/s was achieved (later standardized as V.21). More than 30 years later, that speed had increased by more than two orders of magnitude to 56 kbit/s (V.90/V.92)! With ADSL, even higher data rates are possible, albeit requiring a much larger bandwidth (not otherwise used on telephone subscriber lines). Similar progress was possible with PLC systems. Modulation and coding principles had, however, to be adapted to cope with the scarce spectral bandwidth resource and difficult channel conditions of PLC systems.

Coupling capacitor or CVT Coupling device MCD 80 Coupling device MCD 80

Coupling capacitor or CVT

PLC terminal

PLC terminal

Transmission of Data, Speech and Protection Signals

One of ABBs first PLC installations, circa 1944, published in Brown Boveri Mitteilungen, the predecessor of ABB Review, in Jan/Feb 1944 (Abb. 169 & 170).


ABB Review 2/2006

Making power lines sing

Embedded system technologies

Then there was the additional hurdle of huge distances that needed to be overcome. In 1999, ABB introduced the worlds first digital PLC system with automatic speed adaptation (AMX500), allowing a data rate of up to 28.8 kbit/s in a 4-kHz bandwidth, or up to 64 kbit/s in 8 kHz. Again, this is an improvement of several orders of magnitude.
ETL600: A flexible and future-proof embedded PLC system

jumpers and switches, or even soldering. In addition to user-friendliness and unprecedented application flexibility, ETL600 also guarantees unconditional compatibility with legacy as well as state-of-the-art digital telecommunication environments. ABBs ETL600 provides data transmission speeds four-times that of other systems currently available on the market.

sume less of the precious bandwidth on power lines. The new features of digital PLC technology permit the use of modern PLC systems as a reliable backup of mission-critical services like SCADA and teleprotection that are normally conveyed over broadband media. In particular, the novel high-speed operating mode of ETL600 paves the way for providing Ethernet/IP connectivity (eg for LAN-LAN interconnections) over high-voltage power lines an application that was unthinkable with traditional PLC technology. Because of the flexible and futureproof architecture of embedded systems, additional functionality can later be introduced with new software releases, without needing to replace the hardware. Although this article focuses on PLC, impressive technological advances have been made in the entire utility communication portfolio, particularly in fiber optics and microwave radio. ABB offers integrated communication solutions for mission-critical applications for electric utilities, the oil and gas industry, and railways. Thanks to the latest developments, it is now possible to use a single network system for the remote management of an entire communication network.
For more information see:

In recent years, technology advances presented new opportunities for PLC applications, particularly those related to higher bandwidth provisioning, integration into digital networks, combined with functional enhancements, and ease and flexibility of use. These new possibilities taken together with the economy and reliability considerations for which PLC is known have led to a remarkable revival of PLC systems worldwide. The latest generation of ABBs PLC equipment, ETL600 4 , is a truly embedded system that integrates and extends many components of its predecessor in a most flexible way. With this new, integrated, multi-service platform it is possible to integrate all PLC applications in one single system. The ETL600 system architecture is based on a combination of proven technology with cutting edge hardware and software for digital signal processing. This allows the user to configure the system with a few mouse clicks, where previously integration of additional hardware modules required programming with

The novel high-speed operating mode of ETL600 paves the way for providing Ethernet/IP connectivity over highvoltage power lines.
In order to provide security and reliability, ETL600 incorporates extra measures for high availability and protection against electromagnetic interference and damage due to over-voltage stress. Besides complying with all relevant EMC/EMI1) standards, all interfaces, including data ports, are electrically isolated; hence providing additional protection against overvoltages, ground potential rise and ground loops. The ETL600 also provides improved reliability through built-in self-test functions and support for easy commissioning and maintenance.
Looking ahead

A PLC frontrunner, the ETL600

Each new technology leap offers faster and better ways of executing routine tasks. More importantly, it also opens the door to a wide variety of new applications. Traditional PLC systems were basically point-to-point links, enabled for point-multipoint connectivity through upper-layer protocols of SCADA systems. With the introduction of digital PLC and digital multiplexers, switches or routers, multiple PLC links can now be interconnected to form a meshed network. Such a network provides a high degree of resilience against link failures and supports new applications, such as wide-area monitoring, control and protection. Furthermore, voice signals, which are today still largely transmitted as analog signals, can be converted into digital bit streams, which con-

Stefan Ramseier Hermann Spiess ABB Utility Communication Systems Baden, Switzerland


Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the ability of equipment to operate without interfering with other devices. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) focuses on the amount of energy that emanates from electronic equipment that can cause performance degradation in nearby equipment.

ABB Review 2/2006


Bright ideas
Making global cooperation deliver the best products
Deia Bayoumi, Katja Rajaniemi, Eric Buchholtz For many people, product development still has much to do with lonely inventors toiling away in dimly lit garages. Such clichs surround individuals ranging from Thomas Edison to recent microcomputer whizkids. For most products, however, these methods no longer present an efficient way of developing for an increasingly demanding and dynamic market. Development has shifted from an intuitive and empiric method where a single genius could take on the world, to a scientifically managed creation process. The impressive store of tools supporting it ranges from market analysis through risk management to the Theory of Constraints1). Numerous stakeholders are involved in the development process, spanning different views, ideas, priorities and cultures. Successful project management is about making all these groups work towards a single goal. In this article, ABB Review looks at the development process in ABBs Distribution Automation business.


ABB Review 2/2006

Bright ideas

Embedded system technologies

BB Product development organizations must deliver products with innovative functionalities that meet or exceed the customers expectations. Such a product should have state of the art technology, a competitive price, must be easy to use, and must maintain highest levels of quality and reliability. The invention, delivery and support process presents many challenges for the companys development organizations. The implementation of common processes between R&D centers located in different parts of the world increases collaboration between these, and so raises the efficiency of product development. Areas of focus include project, configuration and requirements management. ABBs Distribution Automation (DA) business manufactures products for protection, control and monitoring in power distribution. The development organization has units in six different countries, collaborating on multiple parallel projects. Opportunities are created through the different cultures, maturity levels and processes of the local organizations. ABB is focused on creating very efficient processes to better and more fully meet its customer specifications and expectations while strengthening its position as global leader. In general, there are three major opportunities for improvement in global product development: knowledge transfer, coordination, and cooperation. The sharing of knowledge and the transformation of an individuals knowledge into organizational knowledge is an essential ingredient to success. Lack of cooperation and coordination is often caused by differing interests or goals, undefined roles, poor personal relationships or unfamiliar processes [1]. ABB Distribution Automation launched a project to improve process development in terms of greater quality, reliability, scalability, predictability and customer focus while reducing time to market. The areas of focus included: Knowledge Transfer: Increasing the communication between the business units by providing an environment that increases the ability, deABB Review 2/2006

sire and skills to listen and share information. Co-ordination: Defining goals and responsibility through implementing and developing a common process essential to achieving better, faster and competitive products. Co-operation: Ensuring that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the process, aware of the status, risks, and issues, and committed to the defined goals and plans.

ensuring stable, capable, and mature processes. The CMMI is a reference model 1 of mature practices in specified disciplines within product development; it is used to assess a groups capability to perform that discipline. Practices identified in the CMMI address productivity, performance, costs, and stakeholder satisfaction. Its strength lies in its integration of multiple systems and software disciplines into one process improvement framework Textbox . The IDEAL model 2 is used to guide the development of a long-range, integrated plan for initiating and managing a process improvement program.
Initiation phase

The development of a good requirements management structure is perhaps the most important of the development practices in the creation of a new product.
Process Improvement

When the process improvement plan was embarked upon, two different models were adopted: the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), and the IDEAL (Initiating, Diagnosing, Establishing, Acting, and Leveraging) model. Both models are frequently used to assist in the setting of process improvement objectives and priorities and provide guidance for

Senior management identified the objectives and secured the commitment for process improvement within the organization. Based on the business objectives, an appraisal was conducted to identify the strengths and weakness of the existing development organizations. Based on the findings, a plan was developed to define the projects for correcting the identified weaknesses. Teams were formed to implement the plans and define the new processes to

Adoption of CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) aids organizations in achieving: a higher level of confidence of delivery of promised scope, cost, and schedule collaboration with stakeholders to meet or exceed their expectations competitive world-class products and services an integrated enterprise from the business and engineering perspective proactive program management techniques use of best practices to cope with development challenges such as changes in technology, customer requirements and markets environments optimize resources where the developer works on multiple, different projects while using the same or similar processes The resulting benefits include: commitment: understanding who the stakeholders are and achieving common understanding of the projects scope, time, and budget. control: a measurement-focused process offering proactive controls throughout the program where the requirements are a fundamental basis for planning and control, and risk management is explicitly used throughout the project. Communication: Enhancing knowledge sharing by building an integrated project team.


Bright ideas

Embedded system technologies

be approved, trained and adopted within the organization.

Improvement activities

There are currently ongoing process development activities in several areas. The three most significant of these are: Requirements Management, Project Management, and Configuration Control.
Requirements Management

a common understanding of it. The business focus of the process was strengthened through the separation of the business aspects of the market requirement specification into a new document the Product Business Plan. This document links the strategy, product portfolio management and requirements. It defines the competitive environment of the product, describing the strategic aspects of why the product is needed. To enhance the quality of the requirement management process, multiple phase assessments and review meetings are held to determine the readiness and quality of the requirement specification. Checklists are enhanced to ensure the requirement specification contains the appropriate information and is reviewed when appropriate.
Project Management

Typical obstacles to the management of requirements are posed by situations where such requirements are changing or unclear. This results in incorrect facts, omissions, inconsistency and ambiguity [2]. In global development environments, the challenges identified relate to coordination and communication and can typically result in cost overruns, schedule slips, frustrated and overworked employees, unhappy customers, and lost profitability.

two areas within project management: risk management and project estimation. Risk management identifies potential problems throughout the life of the product or project so that the appropriate risk-handling activities can be planned and implemented. Product development always engenders significant risks. ABB DA implemented a four-phase risk management process which is iteratively looped through the project lifecycle. These phases are: identifying and classifying the risks, analyzing the risks, responding to the risks and monitoring them. The more effort is put into identifying risks and evaluating their impact, the more accurate the projects estimates will be. ABB DA initiated workshops to identify, analyze and classify risks associated with the project. In these, product management arranges the workshops, where it concludes the findings and discusses the market risks associated with different existing and


The more effort is put into identifying risks and evaluating their impact, the more accurate the projects estimates will be.
The development of a good requirements management structure is perhaps the most important of the development practices in the creation of a new product. Typically the most significant potential for improvement lies in: Business focus on acquiring correct data and establishing a good understanding of customer and market needs. Communication between different functions and across different locations and cultures. Consistency of the requirements specification. A new requirement management system was deployed. This allows all relevant stakeholders to input their requirements and easily review those of other stakeholders. Requirement reviews are held to agree on the scope, priorities and rationale of every requirement. The participation of people from different development centers (ie, sales, marketing, production and support) in the reviewing enables

ABB Distribution Automation focused its project management resources on

The CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) model


Capacity Continuous Process Improvement Quantitative Management

Organizational Innovation and Deployment Causal Analysis and Resolution

Result Productivity and Quality

Quantatively Managed

Quantitative Process Management Software Quality Management

Requirements Development Technical Solution Product Integration Verification Defined Validation Organizational Process Definition Organizational Training Integrated Supplier Management Decision Analysis and Resolution Organizational Environment for Integration Requirements Management Project Planning Managed Project Monitoring and Control

Process Standardization

Basic Project Management

Measurement and Analysis Supplier Agreement Management Process and Product Quality Assurance Configuration Management Design

Heroic Efforts


Develop Integrate Test

Risk and Waste

ABB Review 2/2006

Bright ideas

Embedded system technologies

planned products: how can the established market share within a key market be maintained or improved, and what are the estimated costs associated with each option. When a project is started, risk identification and analysis is more focused on technical risks, and considering whether the project can be managed according to the planned time schedule, cost and scope. The structure of the risk workshops are Brainstorming risk sources Applying a list of potential risk sources and organization specific risks identified on the basis of lessons learnt Prioritizing the risks (probability and severity) using risk defined categories The idea of using risk severity categories and risk sources assures that, in addition to the most probable risks coupled with small consequences, other kinds of risks are also identified, and it also avoids that risks with considerable consequences, but which have never yet occurred, remain unidentified. Prioritization of the risk also identifies those risks that require contingency and/or mitigation plans to reduce the impact or probability of the risk becoming a problem. Risks are monitored and reported during phase assessments and also at

monthly meetings of the project steering committee. In addition, risks are reported weekly to management. This weekly project reporting is used for the sharing of knowledge between different stakeholders, and communicating this knowledge to a wider group of people. The project management assures that each project is allocated the resources it requires, as if it were in a single project environment. ABB DA uses Theory of Constrains techniques (TOC)1), among many others, to ensure efficient project planning, monitoring and control in the multi-project environment. When using TOC, project plans are created based on the optimistic and pessimistic estimation of each task. Critical chain2) and project buffers are created based on those estimates. At the beginning of a project, it is scheduled according to the availability of critical resources. Furthermore, critical resources only work on tasks where their unique ability is required so optimizing overall performance of the process. To ease scheduling, each project is given a relative priority. A project with higher priority is allocated resources in preference to one with lower priority. Consumption of the risk buffer and progress on the critical chain is monitored and reported weekly. Project managers futher collect weekly infor-

mation regarding the work remaining for each task. These activities provide the information needed for managing the whole process.
Configuration Control

As was done in requirements management, a global configuration management system was deployed with a lifecycle management system. The benefits of this system are: Communication: allows the sharing information across different functions, locations and cultures by making the information available to all stakeholders Control: Ensures that everyone is working from the same version of the document Commitment: Requires that relevant stakeholders agree by approval of the documents Quality: Forces the use of reviews to ensure that the work products are complete and accurate Knowledge sharing: Use of a system service and an information pool Only a properly understood and implemented development process can satisfy the demands of tomorrows market!

Deia Bayoumi ABB Inc. Allentown, PA, USA

The IDEAL (Initiating, Diagnosing, Establishing, Acting, and Leveraging) model Learning
Propose Future Actions Analyze and Validate

Katja Rajaniemi ABB Oy Vassa, Finland Acting Eric Buchholtz ABB Inc.
Refine Solution

Implement Solution

Raleigh, NC, USA

Stimulus for Change

Set Context

Build Sponsorship

Charter Infrastructure


Characterize Current & Desired States Develop Recommendations Set Priorities Develop Approach

Pilot Test Solution

References [1] Smith, 1995, Surakka, 2005, Hoopes, Postrel, 1999

Create Solution Plan Actions

[2] Hooks, Farry, 2001



For more background on TOC, see also How to control the chain with TOC, ABB Review 1/2006, page 25.


The Critical Path is the sequence of work packages in a process with the longest overall duration, taking resource dependencies into account.


ABB Review 2/2006


Do-it-yourself robotics
Embedded software allows users to program their own robot application
Ingela Brorsson, Ralph Sjberg, Anna Liberg The year 2005 saw more orders being placed for ABB robots than ever before. The IRC5, ABBs 5th generation robot controller, established itself on the world market and its sales are outstripping that of its predecessor, the S4CPlus. The IRC5 represents a landmark in robotics: its powerful MultiMove feature sets new standards for motion control. It enables complex, coordinated patterns, in which as many as four robots (up to 36 axes) are controlled in independent or synchronized movements by a single controller module. But its not just the controller that breaks new ground! State-of-the-art embedded software in the new hand-held operator unit, the IRC5 FlexPendant, now allows IRC5 users to realize the benefits of customized interfaces.


ABB Review 2/2006

Do-it-yourself robotics

Embedded system technologies

ase-of-use and flexibility are key concepts in the IRC5. The FlexPendant is central to this user-centred philosophy and represents a significant breakthrough in both concept and technology. It is an integral part of the IRC5, yet a complete computer in itself, developed with Microsofts latest technology for embedded systems, Windows CE.NET. It has an innovative ergonomic design and fits naturally into either hand, leaving the other free. An eye-catching feature is the unique, ABB three-way joystick for intuitive jogging of the robot. There are only eight hard buttons, used for fast access to crucial functions, such as starting and stopping robot programs, and of course an emergency stop. Other buttons needed for operation appear on the graphical touch screen when needed, eg, a soft keyboard for entering text. This is a significant improvement on the more complex key-based systems of competing devices. As the FlexPendant is subject to continuous operation in harsh industrial environments, the touch screen is easy to clean and resistant to water, chemicals and even accidental welding splashes. Usability issues have guided the development of the FlexPendant through all its phases. The use of the one-finger touch screen is fast and natural, and the Windows-like interface, with internationally recognizable icons, is familiar to most end-users and therefore minimizes operator training. As

its name suggests, the FlexPendant can be adapted to end-users specific needs. Currently, it can be operated in 14 different languages, including Asian character-based languages such as Japanese and Chinese. Left-handed operators can adapt the device from its default setting by simply rotating the display through 180 degrees 1 . Moreover, four of the hard keys are programmable, ie, their function can be assigned by the end-user.

The ABB FlexPendant team is very astute and has made demanding requests for new functionality and bug fixes in our platform. They have definitely helped us to continue to improve the .NET Compact Framework platform.
Richard Greenberg1)
Development of the FlexPendant

bedded operating system, Windows CE 4.0, which was specifically designed for intelligent hand-held devices. While the choice of operating system was clear, it was more difficult to decide on the most suitable programming model. One possibility considered was to use COM/ATL as component technology with MFC to create the user interface. The main concern was the complexity of the programming model. The FlexPendant had to be on the market within a couple of years, and the chosen technology would later be required to provide a user-friendly software development kit, enabling third parties to add custom applications to the device. It was readily understood that Microsofts coming framework for embedded devices, .NET Compact Framework (.NET CF), would offer an improved programming model, less error prone and less time consuming. But adopting new technology is a risky business and unforeseen technical problems often cause delays in the time schedule. In this case, it would be necessary to use both alpha and beta releases from Microsoft. However, the benefits of using .NET, in terms of quality and productivity, made it a very attractive option. It would also allow ABB to realize the concept of operator-customization. During the first year of development, ABB worked in close collaboration with Microsoft as a participant in their

Development of the IRC5 FlexPendant began in earnest in late 2001. The technical requirements of the device were well suited to Microsofts emFootnote

Richard Greenberg, Group Program Manager of the .NET Compact Framework team, Microsoft (April 2006).

The FlexPendant is easily adjusted to suit a left-handed user

Klckner-Desma, Germany, was an early adopter of the FlexPendant SDK

ABB Review 2/2006


Do-it-yourself robotics

Embedded system technologies

Early Adopter Program (EAP) for .NET CF. Microsoft support was essential to the success of the project and approval for the EAP ensured the necessary commitment from Microsoft for the concurrent development of the FlexPendant and the software platform it would use. For their part, ABB, committed themselves to launch the FlexPendant soon after the planned release of .NET CF in 2003. ABB was about the only EAP participant exploring .NET CF on Windows CE, as most others were using PocketPC as an operating system. Microsoft took a genuine interest in the development of the FlexPendant, and soon began to use ABB robots in their television commercials for .NET. From the start, the business relationship with Microsoft was characterized by commitment and technical expertise. The partnership led to ABB launching one of the very first advanced industry products built on Windows CE.NET. The amount of code developed for the FlexPendant is substantial; there are well over 180,000 executable lines of C# code, along with 25,000 lines of C++ code, providing the communication layer towards the robot controller.
Software Development Kit

FlexPendant using the standard structured menu system. RAB represents an important advancement in robot technology and places ABBs products ahead of its competitors.

The FlexPendant is one of the most sophisticated applications we have seen using the .NET Compact Framework on Windows CE.
Mike Zintel2)
The embedded software platform chosen for the FlexPendant means easeof-use for RAB users. Among programmers, .NET distinguishes itself by the programming model provided by the Microsoft .NET Framework. One feature is its programming language independence, leaving the choice to the RAB developer to use any language provided by the integrated development environment, Microsoft Visual Studio. Most prefer C# or Visual Basic, which offer safe, yet efficient, development. As the majority of programmers already know how to program Windows platforms using Visual Studio, they do not need extensive training when moving to RAB 4 .
Advanced software products

Technology, Virtual IRC5 literally puts a robot controller on the desktop, as it allows the IRC5 controller software to run on a PC. An important feature of the .NET Framework is that compiled .NET code can run on any supported platform. This has enabled the development of a virtual FlexPendant, now included in Virtual IRC5, in parallel with that of the real device. Custom applications can thus be developed and tested at the desktop. Debugging is easy, with either a virtual or a real FlexPendant. The user needs only attach the main process to Visual Studio, set a break point in the code and step through it while it is executing. Developing real-time applications for devices with limited process and memory resources is, nevertheless, more demanding than developing PC applications. Therefore, the user documentation emphasizes the skills of optimizing for performance and memory consumption.
RAB development in China and Sweden

The FlexPendant-SDK (Software development kit) was initiated in 2003, in parallel with further enhancement of the FlexPendant base software. An EAP for ABB customers was soon initiated, and Klckner-Desma, a German company targeting the shoe manufacturing industry, realized innovative ideas on how to facilitate the task of supervising the soling process. The idea was to display the robot path, ie, the contour of the sole graphically, thus providing an easier way to tune robot positions 2 . While robots are usually delivered with a general operator interface, a customized solution is clearly more desirable to the end-user. Tailored solutions are easier to operate and they optimize users investment in automation. The FlexPendantSDK has been part of the ABB software product Robot Application Builder (RAB) 3 since 2004. This allows an end-user or a third party to develop their own robot applications. These RAB applications are integrated with the basic functionality of the

To further speed up the development process for the customer, Virtual IRC5 is included in the Robot Application Builder package. Using Virtual Robot

Mike Zintel, Production Unit Manager of the .NET Compact Framework team, Microsoft (April 2006).

Today, many customers benefit from using RAB. These include robot system integrators, automotive companies, and even ABB itself. In 2004, to further strengthen its position in China and the Far East, ABB established a software development team in Shanghai. Their first challenge was to use RAB to develop a software application for use in the plastics industry. The goal was to speed up the process of programming and operating ABB robots used in the injection molding process. RAB provided the team with a clean interface toward controller functionality and proved to be a real facilitator between teams working together from different corners

Robot application builder (RAB) enables customers to develop their own robot applications

ABB Review 2/2006

Do-it-yourself robotics

Embedded system technologies

of the world. The result, RobotWare Plastics, was successfully launched in 2005. Again, ease-of-use was a primary concern and end-users were closely involved from the early stages. One of the first customers to be involved with RobotWare Plastics was the Swedish molding company, AD-Plast. This company was founded in 1963 as a tooling company, but later moved into injection molding, with automotive components as a key product segment. Robotization has allowed the company to achieve consistent quality levels throughout the process and to maintain competitive pricing. RobotWare Plastics
FlexPendant software architecture

has meant smoother and faster start-up for new production processes. Operators no longer need to be robot-programming experts, as the program wizard of the graphical user interface guides the operator through the entire programming process. Another helpful feature is the graphic cell overview 5 . RobotWare Dispense, a robot application enabling dispensing processes, such as gluing and sealing, has been part of the ABB product range for many years. In 2005, an operator interface, customized for the dispensing process was developed in Sweden. Again, a heavy emphasis was placed

A RAB application for dispensing processes is tested at the desktop before it is downloaded to the real device. This is made feasible by Virtual IRC5.

on ease-of-use and the desire to increase customer value. A well-designed user interface presents relevant information and functionality at the right time. This is much easier to achieve with a customized user interface 6 than with a general-purpose interface.
The future

.NET Compact Framework

RAB App1 Visual Basic

FlexPendant SDK user interface controls, CAPI C# Class libraries C#, C++

Product & Presentation


Windows CE 5.0

COM-based internal API towards robot controller C++/COM/ATL

Data Access

RAB App Application developed with Robot Application Builder, of which FlexPendant SDK is a part. CAPI Controller Application Programming Interface, public API offering robot controller services. COM/ATL Component Object Model, Microsoft component technology. Active Template Libraries, set of template-based C++ classes that simplify the programming using COM. *arrows show dependence

RobotWare Plastics is used to program and operate the ABB robot tending the injection molding machine. Pictures of equipment and produced items on the graphic cell overview make the interface intuitive and easy to use.

Application Framework (C#)

RAB App2 C#

The embedded technology chosen by ABB for the new generation of smart devices for the robot industry has exceeded expectations. Advantages such as worldwide competence of platform, lasting commitment from Microsoft to the embedded market and continuous inspiration from the PC world, all contribute to making Windows CE.NET a long-term technology choice. Meanwhile, ABBs standing on the robot market will be strengthened as state-ofthe-art technology, flexibility and easeof-use combine to further enhance robot automation, giving ABB and its customers a competitive advantage.

Ingela Brorsson Ralph Sjberg ABB Robotics Vsters, Sweden Anna Liberg ABB Robotics Shanghai, China

ABB Review 2/2006


Design patterns
Co-design patterns for advanced control with AC 800PEC
Ernst Johansen Power electronics has, over recent decades, made great progress, not only in terms of power and speed performance, but also in the breadth of applications being catered for. Power converters are required to become ever faster, cheaper, lighter and more flexible while fitting into less space and requiring less installation and maintenance time. The implementation of the corresponding power electronics control systems presents many tough challenges, including the magnitude of the control timedomain, which ranges from nanoseconds to seconds. Costs and risks of development can be greatly reduced through the adoption of a control platform. Drawing on tried and tested component technologies, individual systems can be developed very quickly and to high quality and performance standards. ABBs AC 800PEC is such a platform.

ontrol platforms are necessary to be able to meet the markets demand for faster and more costefficient engineering. At the same time, such a platform creates a singlepoint-of-failure, representing a potential risk to the whole organization. Successful platform development requires striking a delicate balance between optimizing reusability (and so reducing costs) and optimizing performance (at the price of reusability and hence, potentially, at the price of quality). The secret behind the success of the AC 800PEC control platform is a collection of design patterns that offers excellent testability a key feature permitting high quality to be combined with reduced time-to-market.

The simulation concept

The concept behind the PEC (Power Electronic Controller) is the development workflow in which simulation models are converted directly into code for the target controller 1 . This conversion requires no manual recoding. In this way, an important source of errors is eliminated and a high degree of confidence is provided in the equivalence of the behavior of the simulated and real systems.
The PEC Architecture

In power electronic control, the timedomain ranges from nanoseconds in the switching patterns up to seconds in the start-up sequences. A great strength of the PEC architecture lies in it covering these nine orders of magnitude in the control time-domain without compromising on simplicity or flexibility.


ABB Review 2/2006

Design patterns

Embedded system technologies

In order to support the direct conversion of simulation models, the architecture 2 has two major differences compared to classic control systems. No dedicated DSP (Digital Signal Processor) is provided for fast control and there is no mechanical rack where I/O modules are connected

together. So how does the PEC execute fast control and implement I/O connections? The control program can be divided into two main tasks: slow control (millisecond range and slower) and fast control. A classic design would utilize two different physical components for these main tasks, a CPU for slow control and a DSP for fast control. By investigating different use-cases it was concluded that the load distribution between fast (typically 100s) and slow (typically 10ms) control was strongly application specific. The lack of a universal rule for load distribution prompted developers to use a single CPU for both fast and slow control. This decision resulted in the need for a very high-performance CPU. Besides solving the load distribution problem, this architecture greatly simplified automatic code generation.

The simulated model is automatically converted to executable code for the real-time domain

Simulator Control Model System Model Real-Time PEC Real System

The architecture is designed to support cost sensitive small systems with local I/O only 2c , as well as very large systems requiring distributed I/O 2d using fiber-optic connections. These two system types demand a totally different design of the I/O circuits in the controller. To offer a solution capable of covering all use-cases, a system-level FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) was used. This is a hardware component in which the circuit itself is fully programmable. Such FPGAs are used both in the PEC controller and in the distributed I/O nodes. Besides solving the flexibility problem, the FPGA has the additional advantage of being backed up by a very mature design and simulation workflow. Like the Matlab/SimulinkTM-based workflow for controller code development, the FPGA implementation workflow is based on a simulator and a compiler. Even thought compilers are available that will translate some Matlab/SimulinkTM models into VHDL code, ABB decided not to use such tools in the PEC workflow. The reason for this is that most of the FPGA components in the PEC library are neither modeled nor verified efficiently in the Matlab/SimulinkTM language. Instead, a VHDL-based workflow was used for the digital circuits. The adopted workflow was originally developed for ASIC design where high first-past yield1) is mandatory. Furthermore, the workflow offers excellent modeling and verification capabilities. At the time the architecture was defined, however, there was one major drawback the cost of the high-performance CPU and the system-level

A single model can flexibly be adapted to handle different control time-domains

a b c d

mainly fast control mainly slow control Local I/O Distributed I/O connected by fiber optics s ms CPU ms s FPGA ns IO IO
c a b

The concept behind the PEC (Power Electronic Controller) is the development workflow in which simulation models are converted directly into code for the target controller.
The concept of automatically generating real-time code from simulation models cannot be implemented if the simulation tool offers no auto-code capability. ABB decided to use Mathworks Matlab/SimulinkTM for the system simulation. This tool offers a powerful Real-Time-WorkshopTM (RTW) extension for target code generation.


Co-design patterns defined by ML/SL (Matlab/Simulink) and VHDL models s CPU ML/SL

System models are converted into the real-time domain for accelerated verification through execution on PEC hardware

Simulator Control Model Real-Time Controller Real-Time System Model

Accelerator Real-Time PEC Real-Time PEC


VHDL ns IO IO System Model

ABB Review 2/2006


Design patterns

Embedded system technologies

FPGA. How this problem was finally solved will be shown later in this article.
Design patterns for control and verification

A design pattern is a pre-engineered solution-template to a specific problem. Design patterns are a method that has been used by software engineers for a long time. However in the area of hardware/software co-design, the definition of generic patterns is more difficult [1]. The AC 800PEC control system makes use of the design pattern method for several design issues found in power electronic applications. A collection of reusable design patterns allows development engineers to rapidly define new systems with high complexity. A system engineer can concentrate on solving his unique problem while trusting in pre-engineered patterns for implementation details. PEC systems differs from most other systems in that the design patterns in the PEC system are not pure software patterns, but reusable co-design patterns 3 . The motivation for using codesign patterns is to cover nine orders of magnitude in the control time-domain (ns to s), a capability not feasible using one single technology (eg, software).

Co-design is, however, a great challenge for system verification. Excellent test coverage is mandatory to assure high confidence that the implementation is error-free, but the simulation of a control system covering nine orders of magnitude in the time-domain is extremely slow. Simulating a complete PEC co-design system would take days and weeks to complete on a PC workstation. Such a prerequisite is simply not compatible to fast time-tomarket requirements. But the PEC concept has an intrinsic feature that can be used to solve this tricky problem very elegantly: The concept behind the PEC is to offer a workflow where simulation models are converted directly into target controller code. This principle is not only applicable to the control model, but also to the model of the simulation environment used with it. By executing the control and system model on the PEC controller concurrently 4 , the verification of codesign patterns in the real-time domain is speeded up significantly.
Co-design a real challenge for embedded system designers

ity, but differ totally in terms of cost and reusability. Co-design is about taking the right decisions on how to map a solution to different technologies. The invention of system-level FPGA components meant that programmability was no longer restricted to software. The invention permits new design patterns for hardware and system design. As there is no cookbook for co-design, it remains a real challenge for the system designer.

Excellent test coverage is mandatory to assure high confidence that the implementation is error-free
System simulation to explore optimal design patterns

In the process of finding optimal algorithms and structures, system simulation is applied in the evaluation and comparison of different designs. As an example of the co-design process, the Analog-Digital Conversion (ADC) circuit is discussed in the following. As the developers were required to improve the existing ADC design pattern in terms of cost and quality (Signal to Noise Ratio SNR), they selected different topologies 5 that fitted the PEC architecture. The topologies where simulated in the Matlab/SimulinkTM simulation environment and compared in terms of complexity and quality. The developers concluded that, theoretically, the best SNR was obtained by utilizing a combination of oversampling and digital filters 5a (due to the noise-shaping capability of digital filters [2]). Over-sampling 5b-d utilized a much-lower cost ADC circuit than this solution, but added the need for a high-speed digital filter operating at 25x-speed. Was it feasible to implement the filter? Should the filter calculations be executed on the CPU or in the FPGA? Did it pay-off to increase the digital processing payload?
Direct Code Generation

A signal filter can be implemented using analog electronic circuits, a digital filter in an FPGA, or as a piece of software running on a CPU. These solutions all offer identical functional-

Analog-digital conversion co-design topologies, with different components of the task being handled by analog circuits, on FPGA and on CPU
a b c d



1x ADC 14-bit

25x ADC 12-bit

25x ADC 12-bit

25x ADC 12-bit

ML/SL = Matlab/Simulink

The capability to automatically convert simulation models into real-time control applications made it very easy to create target code for the different
ABB Review 2/2006


Design patterns

Embedded system technologies

topologies. As the PEC had a build-in load monitor it was easy to measure the CPU load (payload) for all topologies 6 . Operating the fast filter 6b in software turned out to generate a too high CPU load and was not feasible. As Matlab/SimulinkTM offers comprehensive libraries it was actually not necessary to develop any new code for the CPU filter design.
Optimized VHDL Components

Real-time verification of 12-bit / 1MSps ADC (yellow) and FPGA-filter with noise-shaping (pink)

Real world verification

During the co-design process, the real system was modeled including expected signal noise. In many systems, the noise is unpredictable and the simulation of noise unreliable. Real world verification is therefore still important to guarantee product quality 8 .
Cost and performance a moving target

For the FPGA filters, Matlab/ SimulinkTM was used to evaluate the filter topology, characteristic and calculate the appropriate coefficients. The implementation and simulation of the filters was done in the VHDL environment. In an FPGA circuit, the payload is measured in circuit area. Compared to a digital filter implemented on the CPU, FPGA filter design offers many more options. The precision (number of bits), the clock-frequency, the filter architecture, the throughput (samples per second), the number of MAC
Target load evaluation of variants
b c

(Multiply-Accumulate) operations per filter and the number of channels per filter are all programmable, offering a vast choice of design alternatives, all with different payloads. The 5c topology, with one high-speed filter operating inside the FPGA and one slower filter calculated by the CPU, turned out to offer the most cost-efficient codesign solution. This was selected as the preferred design pattern for ADC conversion 7 .

At the time of the definition of PEC architecture in 1999, the drawback of the architecture was the high cost of the CPU and the system-level FPGA. As these components where very expensive at that time, they where used primarily in high-end applications such as flight-simulators and prototyping systems for ASIC development. As the process technology for digital circuits improved very rapidly, the manufacturing costs of CPU and FPGA dropped dramatically during a period of five years the cost of these digital circuits was reduced by more than 90 percent. As these lower-cost devices came onto the market, a further advantage of the architecture paid off its excellent application portability. Today ABB is offering AC 800PEC controllers based on the most cost efficient 90 nm silicon process technology, offering customers excellent product quality at a very competitive price.


ML/SL RTW Compiler

Target CPU Load Monitor

Ernst Johansen ABB Schweiz AG Turgi, Switzerland


Optimal VHDL filter pattern (variant


5c )

References [1] F. Mayer-Lindenberg, Dedicated Digital Proces-

35-bit IIR 8 Ch

Simulator VHDL Testbench ML/SL

sors: Methods in Hardware/Software Co-Design, John Wiley & Sons (February 12, 2004), ISBN 0-470844-44-2 [2] Walt Kester, Analog-Digital Conversion, Analog Devices Inc. (March 2004), ISBN 0-916550-273, 2.372.41 Footnote

VHDL 1x MAC 80 MHz

ML/SL = Matlab/Simulink

First pass yield is a ratio of the number of good units (ie, not requiring rework) to the total produced.

ABB Review 2/2006


Wireless power in wireless products

How to cut the power cord
Guntram Scheible, Rolf Disselnkoetter An industrial application can have thousands of embedded subsystems that need to communicate with their environment. Each of these requires its own data and power connection. Cabling is costly to install, it is a frequent source of failure and a curb on flexibility. Such applications are better served by wireless technologies. Wireless communication in automation environments has made important advances in recent years [1]. However, wireless power supplies remain a challenge. In 2004, ABB released a series of unique wireless products wireless proximity switches in which both communication and power supply are wireless. Since the introduction of these devices, the WISA (Wireless Interface to Sensors and Actuators) technology [2] on which they were developed has been further expanded to include new products and communication profiles.


ABB Review 2/2006

Wireless Power in Wireless Products

Embedded system technologies

he devices that benefit most from a wireless power supply are components of distributed control and automation systems, typically sensors and actuators devices that often have embedded intelligence. They are generally located in remote environments, where no general power source is available, or in areas that are difficult to access. They can be amongst numerous other devices, in highly mobile assemblies, such as robots, or in high-voltage environments. In such applications, energy efficiency is a primary concern. The power consumption of conventional wireless technologies, as used in standard office wireless components, for example, is generally far higher than that of dedicated systems that have been designed around low-energy requirements. Low-energy devices often make savings by using hierarchical, pulsed operation modes. Most applications, such as data collection, actuation, processing and communication, are performed only at specific time points. Such tasks can be carried out using pulsed operation modes that are interspersed with energy-saving sleep phases.

Included in the system in the form of batteries, fuel cells, etc. Taken from the local environment in the form of light, heat, vibration, user activation, etc. Transmitted to the system via optical or radio frequencies, sound, etc.

low. Fuel cells are somewhat better, but even their potential is little more than 2 Wh/cm3, and much development is still required before they can be used in everyday industrial installations. Environmental energy sources also fail to meet the needs of industry applications, due to their unpredictable nature both in terms of general usability and reliability; and so they fail to meet one of the most important considerations of all. Such solutions would also incur considerable engineering and design costs for every single application.

The primary WPU100 units are tuned and controlled automatically, which means that the WISA-POWER supply system can be applied to different applications just by altering the primary coil geometries.
Although the use of battery power is considered acceptable in the consumer world, regular battery charging or replacement is not a practical option in typical industrial applications. In extremely remote areas, batteries, perhaps in combination with solar or geothermal power, remain the only practical option. In general industrial applications, however, where hundreds of devices that require constant, reliable power supplies run day and night, batteries are not an option. Their energy density, around 1.2 Wh/cm3, is too

WISA-POWER: Wireless power supply. A power supply a feeds primary loop b with a current at 120 kHz. Sensors c within the primary loop are equipped with secondary coils. The right-hand schematic shows the equivalent circuit diagram with loose coupling

c b c c a a c c b c c

Sources of wireless power

Generally speaking, wireless power/ energy can be either:

ABBs wireless power technologies are based on the well-known transformer principle
single sensors other (servo drives)

wireless I/O



large volume wireless

A Helmholtz-like arrangement of rectangular coils integrated into an industrial application. D is the separation between coils and S is the smallest dimension (width or height).



secondary winding

medium power contactless

principle of a transformer technologies

high power contactless

primary winding

10 m

100 m



100 k

Power/W (RMS!)

ABB Review 2/2006


Wireless Power in Wireless Products

Embedded system technologies

After a thorough evaluation of the various available options [3], it seems that the only viable, generally applicable solution is one based on longwave radio frequencies, a form of magnetic coupling. ABB has a number of power supply options that use magnetic coupling 1 . Depending on the transmission distance, a wide range of applications and power levels can be implemented. The power needs of distributed electronic devices, such as single sensors, and wireless I/O (input/output) devices, in discrete factory automation settings, are covered by the first generation of WISA-products 1 . The wireless supply unit WPU100, together with a coil setup (primary loop wires), provides a low-level power supply across large distances (a few meters). This is suitable for most sensors and actuators in discrete factory automation.
WISA-POWER: The magnetic supply

Although people will rarely work continuously in such an automated production cell, the strength of the magnetic field at all normal working positions (including within such a cell) complies with international occupational regulations and recommendations [4]. WISA-POWER works at a similar frequency (120kHz) and in exactly the same way as many of the anti-theft and radio frequency identification systems used in shops and supermarkets.

Energy losses in such a system are surprisingly small and are mainly due to skin and eddy current effects in the coil or in nearby metallic objects. In typical factory automation environments, energy losses are around 15W/m3.
Resonant, medium-frequency power supply

The fundamental challenges of wireless power distribution and the reliability of real-time-suited wireless communication have been successfully resolved.
Within this therefore limited-amplitude magnetic field, power levels can be scaled according to the needs of different applications by changing the size of the secondary coil. This allows embedded systems to be connected to wireless power by the integration of a suitable receiver coil and circuit. A good example of this can be seen in 4 . Artis, a company, based in Bispingen (Germany), has used WISA-POWER technology to create its own secondary-side electronics, adapted to the special needs of tooling sensors [5].

The basic principle of a magnetic field-induced power supply can be described by the well-known transformer principle 2 . In the case of the WPU100, the power supply feeds the primary winding 2b , a large coil, which can be arranged around a production cell, the secondary side of which corresponds to a practically unlimited number of small receiver coils 2c . Each receiver coil is equipped with a ferrite core to increase the amount of flux collected by the coil. For this type of transformer, magnetic coupling is low. The receivable power is determined by the amplitude of the magnetic field at the location of the receiver (secondary) winding. However, if the primary coils are set up in a Helmholtz-like arrangement 3 , the field (and therefore the receivable power) will be fairly constant over a large volume of space. The design rules for the number and size of the primary coils are very simple: D = 0.7 S, where S is the smallest dimension (width or height) of one coil frame and D is the separation between the coils to provide an adequately homogeneous field amplitude inside the arrangement 3 .

These unconventional transformers are best operated in a resonant mode. In this mode, the transformers relatively large leakage inductances are compensated for by a capacitance, which allows the WPU to stimulate the resonant circuit at relatively low voltages. The WISA WPU100 primary power supply must also be able to accommodate: Changes in the environment over time, eg, caused by the movement of large, mobile metallic objects such as robots. Different load requirements, caused by differently sized primary coils (inductance values), and losses, caused by factors such as eddy currents in adjacent metallic objects. Other nearby wireless supply systems, which may couple inductively. To accommodate these requirements, the WISA WPU100 contains a fast and highly accurate control unit, which compensates for such changes and automatically keeps the primary system at a fixed resonance frequency of 120 kHz. The WPU100 unit can adapt

WISA-POWER primary spot coil, integrated into a machine tool with receiver coil provided by customer and embedded electronics (wireless tool survey system DDU WiSy Courtesy of ARTIS GmbH, Bispingen, Germany)[5]

WISA-Power ring-type primary coil structure in a completely rotating cable winding machine (ABB High Voltage Cable, Karlskrona, Sweden). 156 wireless proximity switches WPS with embedded electronics rotate in a complex 2D-movement inside the machine, to ensure a failure-free production.

ABB Review 2/2006

Wireless Power in Wireless Products

Embedded system technologies

to inductive loads from 1154 H and supply currents of 424 A. The primary WPU100 units are tuned and controlled automatically, which means that the WISA-POWER supply system can be applied to different applications just by altering the primary coil geometries, eg, by using ring- or line-type coil structures or spot coils 4 5 . This is particularly useful if wireless power is needed only in certain areas of an installation, for example in devices that move along a ring or line structure, or for bridging critical spots in a system. Due to its unique capabilities, the WPU100 unit can also be used in applications with customized powerreceiver units adapted to specific geometrical and application needs 4 .
Rotating field

orientation with respect to the primary field vector, an orthogonal setup of three coils on a common core has been chosen. Being easily tunable to the fixed resonance frequency, this arrangement is well suited to mass production.

WISA-POWER principle can provide several hundred milliwatts, and, under controlled conditions, up to 1 Watt.
Unbounded future

The generic and modular technology of the WISA family products, which started with the wireless proximity switches, is now being extended to other devices and applications.
With this technology, the available power densities for typical worstcase shielding conditions in real applications remain in the order of 1.2 mW/cm3. The absolute power level can be modified with the coil size and shape. The scalability and integration of WISA-POWER receiver coils into products has been demonstrated in different applications. Total power consumption of the wireless proximity switch and its electronics 6 is significantly below 10 mW the new sensor pad, WSP100 7 , which allows the connection and supply of up to eight sensor heads, can already provide several tens of milliwatts in worst case conditions of shielding. Under normal conditions, at this size, the

With the introduction of the WISA power and communication technologies, ABB has made significant advances in the technology of wireless embedded systems. The fundamental challenges of wireless power distribution and the reliability of real-timesuited wireless communication have been successfully resolved. The generic and modular technology of the WISA family products, which started with the wireless proximity switches, is now being extended to other devices and applications. The generic WISA-POWER supply and WISA-COM communication technologies are set to find their way into many further applications.

Unidirectional magnetic fields can be shielded unintentionally by metal objects. To avoid this, two loops can be mounted orthogonally. The loops must be fed by separate power supplies, whose currents are phase-shifted by 90 with respect to each other. This creates a continuously rotating, 2-dimensional field.
Omni-directional receiver structure

Guntram Scheible ABB STOTZ-KONTAKT GmbH Heidelberg, Germany Rolf Disselnkoetter ABB Corporate Research Ladenburg, Germany

To achieve sufficient power output on the receiver side, the secondary coils must also be operated in a resonant mode. Further, to make the available power independent of the receivers


WISA-POWER Power Cube integration into the WISA communication module WSIX100 of a wireless proximity switch

WISA-POWER Integration of a scaled Power Cube into the WISA sensor pad WSP100 to supply eight sensor heads and their real-time WISA-COM communication

[1] Niels Aakvaag, Jan-Erik Frey: Wireless communication and sensor networks. New-breed networking solutions for industrial automation ABB Review 2 /2006 [2] Jan-Erik Frey, Andreas Kreitz, Guntram Scheible: Wireless but connected, ABB Review 3 and 4 /2005 [3] G. Scheible: Wireless energy autonomous systems: Industrial use? Sensoren und Messysteme VDE/IEEE Conference, Ludwigsburg, Germany, March 1112 2002. [4] International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP): Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz). Health Physics vol 74, no 4, 494522, 1998. [5] Berend Denkena, Dirk Lange, Dipl.-Ing. Jan Brinkhaus: Spielraum in der berwachung; Fachzeitschrift mav maschinen anlagen verfahren Konradin Verlag Robert Kohlhammer, 2005

ABB Review 2/2006


Coming of age
Embedded system FPGA and VHDL
Erik Carlson, Franz Zurfluh, Catherine Krbcher Looking for an electronic solution to a problem can be a daunting and mindboggling task. The speed at which technology is advancing means a customer never seems to have the most modern and efficient device. Designers of high-performance embedded systems are constantly pushing to fit more processing power into the same box. This push, it must be said, is strongly dictated by demands for better timeto-market, increased power and volume efficiency, and the need to squeeze every last drop of performance out of a device. However, rather than having to buy new devices, customers mostly prefer to upgrade or add new features to their previous investments. Traditionally this has been made possible by designing microprocessors and software into the products. One way of making such demands possible is to use FPGA technology to replace digital signal processors. By introducing FPGA logic, hardware can be used as flexibly as software. In addition high speed, low power consumption and easy reuse of proven logic can also be achieved. FPGA technology has been used by ABB for several years, in particular in the automation, medium and high voltage industries. This article discusses some FPGA design aspects as well as its benefits to ABB and its customers.

field-programmable gate array or FPGA as it more commonly known is a semiconductor device containing programmable logic components and programmable interconnects. The programmable logic components can be programmed to duplicate the functionality of basic logic gates (such as AND, OR, XOR, NOT) or more complex combinatorial functions such as decoders or simple math functions. In most FPGAs, these programmable logic components (or logic blocks, in FPGA parlance) also include memory elements, which may be simple flip-flops or more complete blocks of memories. This technology was introduced several years ago 1 . However cost and performance limitations initially meant that FPGA technology was used only for fast prototype developments. Volume production was than carried out using an ASIC1) (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) design. Today ASIC development has increased considerably both in time and
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Embedded system technologies

tooling costs because of the rapid increase in complexity. As feature sizes have shrunk and design tools improved, the maximum complexity (and hence functionality) possible in an ASIC has grown from 5,000 gates to over 100 million. For designs with lower production volumes, FPGAs are now more cost effective than an ASIC design. Other advantages include shorter time to market, lower non-recurring engineering costs, the ability to re-program in the field and to add new functions or fix bugs. In addition, FPGAs contain programmable logic blocks and programmable interconnects that allow the same FPGA to be used in many different applications. The regular structure of the cell array lends itself to small geometries. In fact, FPGA designs have more than outperformed Moores law2). Several millions gates are already available in modern day FPGA families. Interconnections can be done in up to 9 metal layers, thus allowing easy monitoring and testing during the development and debugging phases. Powerful clock drivers together with complex routing software enable internal clock frequencies of up to the GHz range. Compared to their ASIC counterparts, traditional FPGAs: have been generally slower; they cant handle as com-

plex a design; and they draw more power. To reduce power consumption, the clock drivers have been designed so as to ensure they are inactive when not in use. This feature has been optimized in several hand-held and battery operated devices where low power is essential. Unfortunately, low feature size gives large static leakage current and must be considered when the optimum FPGA technology is selected.

ic analysis, CORDIC algorithms3) for vector manipulation, and high performance microprocessor cores. These blocks are implemented with normal logic cells. They are called IP (Intellectual property) blocks and are available both from FPGA vendors and from the commercial market.
FPGA Technology From glue logic to System-on-Chip

For designs with lower production volumes, FPGAs are now more cost effective than an ASIC design.
Modern FPGAs also include built-in higher level functionality. These fixed hardware structures together with the regular gate structures not only reduce the area required but they also enhance the speed performance. Examples of embedded functions include multipliers, generic DSP blocks, embedded processors, high speed IO (input/output) logic and embedded memories. More importantly, ready made and tested designs for complex tasks are also available such as Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs) for harmon-

Once used only for glue logic, FPGAs have progressed to a point where System-on-Chip (SoC) designs can be built on a single device. Over the past 10 years, the number of gates and features has increased dramatically: FPGA capacity has increased more than 200-fold and speed has increased more than 20-fold to compete with capabilities that have traditionally been offered through ASIC devices only. Innovative architectural and circuit features are equally important, as are advancements in design methodology. External system clock rates now exceed 150 MHz. The cost for an FPGA with 10,000-gate functionality has decreased by a factor of over a hundred. I/Os have to be compatible with many new standards and must be able to drive transmission lines.
Device specific circuits embedded in FPGAs.

Progres in FPGAs technology is opening more and more applications for them

Configurable Logic Blocks (CLBs) provide the functional elements for combinatorial and synchronous logic. Modern technologies contain function generators (look-up tables, shift registers) storage elements, arithmetic logic gates and multiplexers. As regards clock management circuitry, clock modifiers are implemented as analogue Phase-Locked-Loops (PLL)4) or digital Delay-Locked-Loops (DLL)5). PLLs and DLLs are used for clock skew compensation and clock synthesis (multiplication/division). Flexible PLL/DLL circuits are available in the newest FPGAs, and some new FPGA devices support glitch-free clock multiplexing, as well as clock shutdown for low-power applications. Advanced interfaces such as Input/ Output Blocks (I/O Blocks) are programmable as input, output and bi-directional, and registers are edge-triggered flipflops or level-sensitive latch71

Volume Apps.

Performance & Density

Application Specific Functions


PCI FFT/FIR Filters Encription MP3 Decoder

Industrial Automation Medical Imaging Control Systems Graphic Cards Printers

Small Systems Integration

Data and Control Path Memory

Glue Logic

Adders Counters

Gates and FFs




ABB Review 2/2006

Coming of age

Embedded system technologies

es. A range of single-ended standards such as LVTTL, Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI)6) and differential signaling are supported. The newer FPGAs are compatible with many I/O standards and I/O voltages. Small RAM devices can be emulated with CLBs, but these are slow and consume a lot of logic. Single, twoported, dual-ported and quad-ported block RAMs are available in many FPGAs today. They are cost and performance optimized RAM implementations. Other device specific circuits embedded in modern day FPGAs include: CPU soft/hard cores: An FPGA device with embedded CPU hardware IP is a new category of microprocessor. Today products with 8-bit or 32-bit CPUs are available. The two basic components of a platform FPGA are the CPU core and on-chip bus architecture. Multipliers: Some FPGA families have dedicated hardware multipliers some that range from 88 bit to 18 18 bit that help increase computational performance. Multipliers can be modeled in virtually any FPGA using CLBs, but they require a lot of logic and are slower than dedicated multipliers.
The FPGA development process

design-entry language for FPGAs and ASICs in electronic design automation of digital circuits. VHDL was originally developed in the early 80s at the behest of the US Department of Defense to document the behavior of ASICs that supplier companies were including in equipment. In other words, it was developed as an alternative to huge, complex manuals. The key advantage of VHDL when used for systems design is that it allows the behavior of the required system to be described (modeled) and verified (simulated) before synthesis tools translate the design into real hardware. Another benefit is that VHDL allows the description of a concurrent system, and it synthesizes the detailed structure from a more abstract specification.

so that the design can be verified using a simulator the simulator executes the design and checks that the correct results are produced. When the design is free of errors, a complete synthesis is done. During synthesis an intermediate representation of the hardware, called a netlist, is generated for the layout tool. The next step is called layout or placeand-route. This involves mapping the logical structures described in the netlist into macrocells, interconnections, and input and output pins. In other words, the netlist is fitted to the actual FPGA architecture. However, factors constraining the layout include speed and area optimization. The layout tool can generate another netlist with the timing delay information represented in Standard Delay Format (SDF)8). This netlist can also be used for simulation with the test bench to verify the correct timing behavior. Finally a configuration bit stream is generated. This file can be downloaded into the FPGAs control memory or directly into the FPGA itself.
FPGA based Digital Signal Processing

FPGAs are ideal as coprocessors or pre-/postprocessors for offloading highly computational.

Basic VHDL design process

Several steps are required to create the structure and behavior of an application before it can be downloaded to an FPGA. 2 illustrates the basic VHDL design process. The first step is design coding. This can be done using a hardware description language such as VHDL, Verilog or SystemC, or the code can be generated with so called system compilers (see Designing DSP applications for FPGAs later in this article). In parallel, a test bench is developed

Designing an FPGA with a million gates has become both a system and an architectural problem. Modern languages, such as the Unified Modeling Language (UML)7), are necessary to ensure correct specification and design. Simulation and verification is often done with Matlab or other high-level simulation tools. However, logic description is mostly done using a Hardware Description Language (HDL). HDL describes electronics circuits in terms of the circuits operation, its design, and tests to verify its operation by means of simulation. In contrast to a software programming language, an HDLs syntax and semantics include explicit notations for expressing time and concurrency, which are the primary attributes of hardware. VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHDL) is widely used as a

State-of-the-art FPGAs provide the basic functional capability to implement signal processing functions, even in the low-cost families. These devices are ideal as co-processors or pre-/ post-processors for offloading highly computational intensive functions. Implementing signal processing algorithms in an FPGA instead of a DSP gives the designer additional degrees of freedom. As 3 shows, high performance calculations can be implemented in parallel for high data throughput, and semi parallel or in series for

The basic VHDL design process Test Bench Development VHDL Code

Design Coding VHDL Code Synthesis Netlist Layout VHDL Netlist

Simulation SDF & Netlist Generation of BIT File

ABB Review 2/2006

Coming of age

Embedded system technologies

cost efficient applications. The architecture can be ideally customized for different applications to enable performance and cost targets to be reached. However, design tools are the bottleneck in DSP designs implemented on an FPGA. DSP system design in programmable logic devices requires both high-level algorithm and HDL development tools. Nowadays, major FPGA vendors offer DSP builder tools that help shorten DSP design cycles. These tools combine the algorithm development, simulation, and verification capabilities of Matlab and Simulink with synthesis, simulation, and placeand-route.

N-coefficients is implemented in a DSP (using von Neumann architecture)9). In this case it needs a total of n cycles to produce the output. However, an FPGA can handle the multiply-accumulate (MAC) operations in parallel and only one clock cycle is needed for the entire computation!
Designing DSP applications for FPGAs

Several millions gates are already available in modern day FPGA families.
As an example, 4 shows how a finite impulse response (FIR) filter with

Often the DSP part of the FPGA design is just one block in a larger implementation where traditional FPGA design methods and tools are used. An integrated system design approach to help the simulation and development of each specific part will become essential in the future. There are many possible methods ranging from hand coding, model-based design approaches C/C++ to RTL synthesis to DSP synthesis for modelling and implementing DSP functions in FPGAs. Model-based design: Matlab is a popular mathematical modelling environment. Simulink supports the

Implementing signal processing algorithms in an FPGA instead of a DSP gives the designer additional degrees of freedom: structure optimized for speed (extreme left) or cost (extreme right)




simulation of continuous- and discrete-time systems with libraries for modelling DSP and communication systems, the capabilities for data analysis, and visualization. It is therefore a suitable platform for FPGA design tools. FPGA vendors have developed tools on top of Simulink that support system modelling. The tool consists of parameterized IP models representing some DSP operations such as Fast Fourier Transforms (FFT) or FIR filter functions. The major problem with this technique is that the transition from the algorithmic domain and the implementation domain is not completely automatic: many low-level aspects of the model have to be manually handled. C/C++ to RTL: There are tools on the market allowing the synthesis of Register Transfer Logic (RTL)10) from C/C++ code. Some require additional architecture-specific information in the C source code to define concurrency and timing, whereas others allow the direct synthesis of RTL from ANSI C or C++. DSP synthesis: DSP synthesis tools allow engineers to design and simulate DSP algorithms at Simulink level. An automated way of migrating the design to implementation level (RTL) is also supported. The key feature of the solution is a



FPGA manufacturers
Xilinx has traditionally been the FPGA leader. Altera is the second FPGA heavyweight. Lattice Semiconductor focuses on low-cost, feature-optimized FPGAs and non-volatile, flashbased FPGAs. Actel has antifuse and reprogrammable flash-based FPGAs. QuickLogic has antifuse (programmable-only-once) products. Cypress Semiconductor Atmel focus on providing AVR Microcontrollers with FPGA fabric on the same die. Achronix Semiconductor has very fast FPGAs in development.

Traditional DSP processor (left), FPGA solution (right) allowing parallel processing DSP Data in Reg Data in C0 x Loop algorithm n times + Data out MAC MAC operations in 1 clock cycle + Data out x Reg 0 C1 x Reg 1 C2 x FPGA Reg 2 Cn x Reg n

ABB Review 2/2006


Coming of age

Embedded system technologies

block set that is availHigh voltage products to 5 A typical embedded board with FPGA, xScale microprocessor and able in Simulink. The DSP perform system control of communication support, all part of ABBs SLIMLINE project for LV designer therefore enters HV switchgear drive, as well protection the process only at the alas analogue data acquisition gorithmic level and does and down sampling A product family for ananot have to deal with defilogue data acquisition and nitions at low-level impleprotection known as SLIMmentation decisions. The LINE 5 . The FPGA is used only attributes needed are for down sampling, filtering, the filter coefficients and and RMS calculations gain requirements . The WISA [1] (Wireless Interface hardware design engineer to Sensors and Actuators) adds the desired sample rate, speed, and target Thanks to the advent of new technology of the design. technologies in the field of The tool then generates FPGAs, designers are now the appropriate RTL. This provided with an option other method is more or less than ASICs. FPGAs have imequal to model-based deproved their capacity to build systems new SAHIB platform developed by sign. However, its biggest advantage on a chip with more than million ASIC ABB Corporate Research and the comover model-based design is that the equivalent gates and a few megabits panys Automation Technologies busimodels have fever low-level paramof on-chip RAM, making them more ness as a general-purpose platform for eters and are not vendor specific: than suitable for low volume producuse in both the Power and Automaany FPGA target with DSP features tion tion Technologies segments. can be used.
Typical ABB applications

ABB has developed its own IPs11) for using FPGA technology in power network monitoring and controllers. For example, a typical multiprocessor product in ABB contains a microcontroller (MC) that handles display, device configuration and communication details; while a DSP takes care of all computations. These architectures may be combined in an MC-FPGA so that the computations are done in an FPGA rather than a DSP. A successful example of this architecture is the

FPGA technology is also applied in: Power electronics and medium voltage drives Inverter control (eg, modulators, switching logic, and protection) and communication Motor Control (eg, modulators, direct torque control 2/3/5 level inverters) Medium voltage products for automation analogue data acquisition, down sampling, filtering, RMS calculations, and protection functions

Erik Carlson ABB Corporate Research Billingstad, Norway Franz Zurfluh ABB Corporate Research Baden-Dttwil, Switzerland Catherine Krbcher ABB Review Baden-Dttwil, Switzerland


An ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) is an integrated circuit (IC) customized for a particular use rather than intended for general-purpose use. For example, a chip designed solely to run a cell phone is an ASIC.
5) 6) 4)

A phase-locked loop (PLL) is a closed-loop feedback control system that maintains a generated signal in a fixed phase relationship to a reference signal. A device that reduces clock skew in digital circuits. The Peripheral Component Interconnect standard (PCI) specifies a computer bus for attaching peripheral devices to a computer motherboard.


von Neumann architecture refers to a computer design model that uses a single storage structure to hold both instructions and data. The separation of storage from the processing unit is implicit in the von Neumann architecture.


Moores law is an empirical observation that at the rate of technological development, the complexity of an integrated circuit, with respect to minimum component cost, will double in about 18 months. It is attributed to Gordon E. Moore, a co founder of Intel.


Register Transfer Logic (RTL) is a description of a digital electronic circuit in terms of data flow between registers. The RTL description specifies what and where this information is stored and how it is passed through the circuit during its operation.


The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is a non-proprietary, object modeling and specification language used in software engineering. UML has its strengths at higher, more architectural levels and has been used for modeling hardware.


CORDIC stands for COordinate Rotation DIgital Computer) and is a simple and efficient algorithm to calculate hyperbolic and trigonometric functions. It is the algorithm of choice if no hardware multiplier is available.

A well designed IP should: include a test bench; be reusable in several products; and be easily upgradeable to new generations of the FPGA.

Standard Delay Format (SDF) is an IEEE standard for the representation and interpretation of timing data for use at any stage of an electronic design process.

References [1] ABB Review Issues 3 and 4 2005, Unplugged but connected, Parts 1 and 2.


ABB Review 2/2006


Signal Processing in Embedded Systems

Signal processing as an opportunity to increase functionality of industrial instrumentation
Andrea Andenna Basic and advanced signal processing algorithms run in a large variety of ABB products that are equipped with embedded electronics, from small domestic motion detectors, to sophisticated control units for medium- and high-voltage switchgears. In field devices in particular, signal processing provides an opportunity to improve the quality of measurements and the overall functionality of instruments. The PILD (plugged impulse line diagnostics) algorithm is an example of such an improvement. It has been developed to alert operators to blockages in the impulse lines of pressure transmitters. Such a warning system allows users to switch from preventative maintenance programs to more cost-effective, eventdriven, predictive practices.

ABB Review 2/2006


Signal Processing in Embedded Systems

Embedded system technologies

ignal processing usually brings to mind audio applications, image processing or communication technologies, but a glance at ABBs product portfolio reveals a much wider picture. Signal processing applications are found in many of ABB products, both in automation and power technology. Many of the applications are integrated in devices, such as control units and industrial instruments, and run on embedded platforms.

voltage, and differential and distance protections. ABB field devices and analytical instruments are normally equipped with an electronic part that acquires signals from the sensing part of the device: pressure transmitters, for example, acquire a signal from a piezo-resistive sensor chip, magnetic flow meters read the voltage induced by the generated magnetic field, temperature transmitters read the signal from a thermocouple. So, in general, inside an industrial instrument, one or more electrical signals are acquired from the sensing part (sometimes referred to as the primary part) by the electronic part (the secondary part). In general, all these sensor signals need to be amplified, analogue filtered, converted from analogue to digital and then digitally processed in microprocessors or DSS. Signal processing is also important in todays sensor systems for modelling the sensor characteristic curves, to compensate for non-linearity and influencing effects.

Power line communication modems, for example, use a wide variety of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms. Key topics are digital modulation and demodulation, digital filtering, Fourier transforms, sampling rate conversion, frame acquisition, carrier phase and symbol timing synchronization, channel estimation and equalization, and error detection and correction. The basic principles of signal processing are well established, and used in all of todays communication systems. However, a considerable R&D investment is required to meet the increasing requirements of powerSignal processing is an opportunity line communication systems. Increasfor improving field devices ing processing power will support Field devices are becoming more intelhigher data transfer rates per channel, ligent, mainly because of rapid imand channel bandwidths will increase provements in the semiconductor infrom the traditional 4 kHz to ~32 kHz. dustry, particularly in terms of cost In the long-term future, single systems and power consumption of the commay offer flexible (configurable) supponents. In this context, signal proport of much higher bandwidths, up to 1 MHz. Such truly broadband power line modems 1 Differential pressure transmitter in a harsh environment: will have to implement furaccess for maintenance is hard ther efficient signal processing algorithms. Todays protection and control units for switchgears and circuit breakers provide a large variety of electronic protection functions for the electrical systems they supervise. These devices work by measuring current and voltage and then digitalizing and processing the acquired signals. This is generally achieved by means of Fourier analysis: the harmonics of the electrical signals are computed and become the major inputs for most of the protection functions. These include over-current, over76

cessing provides an opportunity to improve sensor properties, in spite of the abundance of influencing effects, such as manufacturing variance, hysteresis, drift, ageing and cross sensitivity, which are unavoidable and represent a systematic source of uncertainty [2]. Additionally, customers now require industrial instruments with an extended set of functions, besides the primary goal of the device. Device and process diagnostic functions are particularly appreciated because they promise to reduce maintenance costs and to improve the general reliability of the instruments. Competitors are clearly confirming this trend and diagnostics is now a common keyword in the market requirement specifications of new generation instruments. Up to now, this process-supervision functionality has usually been provided at the control-system level of a plant, where much higher computation power is available. But improvement of the embedded platforms now allows integration of complex algorithms at the device level, rather than in PCs and control systems. In other words, the current trend is to shift intelligence from the system down to the field devices and instruments. The last part of this article discusses an example of this.
Limitations of the embedded platforms

It is well known that electronic components such as processors, memories and chips, have been improving dramatically for a number of years, increasing their performance and reducing their size and cost. This applies to every chip market segment, from personal computers to smaller embedded architectures of industrial applications. Nevertheless, in the embedded platforms typically used in ABB devices and instruments, cost and power consumption remain a challenge: In the industrial instrumentation market, price plays a very important role in the maintenance and increase of market shares. Very often, competing products are comparable in quality and customers decisions are based mainly on price. However, as
ABB Review 2/2006

Signal Processing in Embedded Systems

Embedded system technologies

described above, the general trend for chips is to become cheaper, and, while the cost of electronics normally represent a significant portion of the production costs for a device, the manufacturing and material costs of the instrument can sometimes be much higher. Therefore, from a cost point of view, todays embedded architectures for industrial instrumentation have the potential to improve cal-

culation power and memory: more advanced algorithms and additional intelligence can be added easily. Many embedded architectures have limitations on the power they can consume. For example, battery-powered devices have specific battery life requirements and are, therefore, limited in terms of power consumption. There are devices that normally work with an

auxiliary power supply (110 / 220 V) but which, in case of emergency, must work without this supply, albeit with limited functionality. This is the case for many control units for circuit breakers. The solution here is either a battery or a self-supply strategy, (eg, power taken from the current flowing through the circuit breaker). Many instruments are supplied through the 420 mA channel, which is also used as the main analogue input or output channel. These devices, known as two-wire instruments, can consume only a few tens of milliwatts. The intrinsic safety provided by this low power consumption is an advantage for industrial two-wire instruments and is actually one of the key reasons that customers still strongly support this type of power supply. However, power consumption became a limiting factor for the improvement of electronics, and therefore functionality, some years ago, and it remains a particular problem for two-wire devices.

Noise level in the differential pressure signal under various conditions in the impulse lines Lines not plugged noise power/signal power
0.02 0.015

Both lines plugged noise power/signal power

0.02 0.015



Signal processing provides an opportunity to improve sensor properties, in spite of the abundance of influencing effects, such as manufacturing variance, hysteresis, drift, ageing and cross sensitivity.
An embedded signal processing application: PILD



0 0 50 100 150 200 250 300

0 0 50 100 150 200 250 300

Time (s)

Time (s)

(+) line plugged noise power/signal power

0.02 0.015

(-) line plugged noise power/signal power

0.02 0.015



The PILD (plugged impulse line diagnostics) function is a signal processing algorithm that was recently integrated in ABB differential pressure transmitters, one of the most commonly used field device types. This R&D project showed both the potential of signal processing for improving field devices and also the constraints imposed by their limited embedded architectures. Differential pressure transmitters are instruments for sensing the difference in pressure between two points of a process. They can be installed in harsh environments where access for maintenance can be difficult 1 . The



0 0 50 100 150 200 250 300

0 0 50 100 150 200 250 300

Time (s)

Time (s)

ABB Review 2/2006

Signal Processing in Embedded Systems

Embedded system technologies

main application of this device is computing the flow rate inside a pipeline. This is achieved by measuring the pressure drop caused by a primary element, typically a Venturi tube or an orifice plate. Through this measurement, and with a knowledge of the geometry of the primary element, the flow rate can be computed. Differential pressure transmitters are connected to the process through two pipes called impulse lines. They normally have a small diameter, less then 1 cm, and can be very long. During the life of a device, the impulse lines can become partially or completely clogged by solid process material (eg, sand), sediment, or deposits that build up inside the lines, or by frozen water.

loops, not realizing that it is frozen. The only indication the process operator has for such an event is the misbehaviour of control loops, which could also, and is actually more likely, to be caused by valve wear. The maintenance effort required to identify and unblock a plugged impulse line is high. Moreover, if a process fluid has a known tendency to cause plugging, costly preventive maintenance will usually be carried out. Differential pressure transmitters that automatically identify plugged impulse lines have the potential to cut costs by reducing preventative maintenance efforts.
The PILD alogrithm

because the pressure connection between sensor and process will be lost completely. So, the PILD function first measures the noise level in the differential pressure signal when the impulse lines are clear (training phase). Then, during normal device operation, it statistically compares the noise level with values stored during the training phase. If the statistical analysis shows a significant difference between the live values and those acquired during the training phase, an alarm signals that one or both impulse lines are plugged. The training phase is a configurable time period, during which the algorithm learns the nominal process conditions so that it can later identify readings that indicate plugging of the impulse lines. A reliable and effective training is the key to the success of the PILD function. Differential pressure transmitters are used in very different process conditions, in terms of media (high viscosity liquids, water, steam, gases etc) and environmental conditions (temperature from 40 to 85 Celsius, and absolute pressure up to 600 bars). Without an automatic way of adapting the algorithm to this large variety of conditions, the PILD function would be useless. The PILD function was developed between 2003 and 2005. The function has recently been integrated in the new release of ABB 264 Differential Pressure Transmitters with Foundation Fieldbus interface.
Andrea Andenna ABB Corporate Research Baden, Switzerland

Differential pressure transmitters that automatically identify plugged impulse lines have the potential to cut costs by reducing preventative maintenance efforts.
In contrast to most other field device malfunctions, a plugged impulse line has no impact on the device hardware and, if it goes unnoticed, the process value will remain in a valid condition. By plugging the impulse line, the current pressure state becomes trapped and decoupled from the true process state. The control system continues to use the pressure value in control

The principle of plugged impulse line detection is based on the observed characteristics of pressure signals over time. Flow processes are affected by fluctuations in the pressure value caused by other devices and machines, such as pumps, that interact with the process. These fluctuations can be seen as noise in the differential pressure signal. Under normal operating conditions, with clear impulse lines 2a , this process noise is mostly cancelled out because the device measures pressure from two points that are relatively close together, normally only a few centimetres apart. If one impulse line becomes blocked 2c 2d , the pressure fluctuations are no longer cancelled out and the process noise is fully apparent in the differential pressure signal. If both impulse lines become blocked 2b , the process noise will be reduced almost to zero

References [1] Hengjun Zhu, E. H. Higham, J. E. Amadi-Echendu, Signal Analysis applied to Detect Blockages in Pressure and Differential Pressure Measurement Systems, IEEE Instrumentation and Measurement Technology Conference, Proceedings Vol. 2 (1994), Pages 741744. [2] H. Trnkler, O. Kanoun, Importance of Signal Processing in Sensor Systems, Technisches Messen 71 (2004) 3 [3] A. Andenna, G .Invernizzi, D. Eifel, Embedded diagnosis to detect plugged impulse lines of a differential pressure transmitter, ITG-/GMA Sensoren und Messsysteme 2006, Conference Proceedings


ABB Review 2/2006

Editorial Board Peter Terwiesch Group R&D and Technology Adam Roscoe Corporate Communications Ron Popper Group Editorial Services Corporate Communications Friedrich Pinnekamp Group R&D and Technology Nils Leffler Chief Editor Publishers office ABB Schweiz AG Corporate Research ABB Review / REV CH-5405 Baden-Dttwil Switzerland The ABB Review is published four times a year in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Russian. Partial reprints or reproductions are permitted subject to full acknowledgement. Complete reprints require the publishers written consent. The ABB Review is free of charge to those with an interest in ABBs technology and objectives. For a free subscription please contact your nearest ABB representative or the publishers office. Publisher and copyright 2006 ABB Ltd. Zurich / Switzerland Printers Vorarlberger Verlagsanstalt AG AT-6850 Dornbirn / Austria Layout DAVILLA Werbeagentur GmbH AT-6900 Bregenz / Austria Disclaimer The information contained herein reflects the views of the authors and is for informational purposes only. Readers should not act upon the information contained herein without seeking professional advice. We make publications available with the understanding that the authors are not rendering technical or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters and assume no liability whatsoever in connection with their use. The companies of the ABB Group do not make any warranty or guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the views expressed herein. ISSN: 1013-3119

Preview 3/2006

As the technical review of the ABB Group, ABB Review strives to maintain good coverage of research and development activities within the group. Its articles regularly cover trends, achievements and applications both from the corporate research units and from ABBs mainstream businesses. However, besides the business areas that the group is most commonly associated with, ABB is active in several highly successful niche businesses. The next issue of ABB Review will focus specifically on these less-known areas of ABB. Some of the companys business endeavours have achieved remarkable results by transferring knowledge and solutions gathered in one area of the companys activities to a totally differ-

ent fields either within or outside ABBs main business areas. Engineering groups in local ABB companies have applied the companys product portfolio and know-how in creative ways to solve issues faced by customers including some very unorthodox applications. ABB Review hopes that by providing insight into ingenious solutions applied in one market, further opportunities for ABBs knowledge pool can be opened elsewhere. The examples presented in this next issue should provide inspiration in creative thinking and open fresh areas for synergy and innovation enabling more and more industries, products and people to benefit from the companys vast pool of knowledge and experience.

On page 8 of the printed version of ABB Review 4/2005, we included a section of text taken from the website of PBS of the USA without acknowledging this fact. We apologize for this oversight. ( einstein/legacy.html)

ABB Review 2/2006


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