Advantech's hardware and software integration solutionwas a combination of a Layer 2 switch—EKI-7656CI, a Layer 3 switch—EKI-9428G, and an intelligent network management system using WebAcces/NMS. Benefiting from this network solution, the digital and analog signals of the molten salt solar thermal power plant can reliably operate at Gigabit speeds and operators in the control room are able to directly control motors and other components without personally visiting the scene. Each switch connects nine heliostat panels and dozens of switches to form a ring topology, a total of 180 EKI-7656CI switches installed at the power station delivers data to the EKI-9428G installed in the control center. The latter manages all aggregated data and controls the traffic so as to ensure network stability. The WebAccess/NMS installed in the background system allows mangers to remotely monitor and control network equipment.
EKI-7656CI is a managed industrial Ethernet switch that not only supports a wide operating temperature range (-40°C~75°C), but also uses a metal enclosure that meets the IP30 protection standard and comes with a rugged DIN-rail mounting, enabling it to withstand extreme temperature changes and severe environmental challenges in the Dunhuang desert. Furthermore, it offers a variety of diagnostic, controls, redundancy, and other intelligent management functions to enhance the stability of communication and improve network management efficiency. For example, users can conveniently establish a redundant Ethernet network with ultra high-speed recovery times of less than 20 ms by using Advantech’s self-developed X-Ring Pro. SNMP (Simple Networking Management Protocol) allows network management software to easily obtain network traffic and system information and settings, even whilst resetting or turning on/off switches. Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) provides switch information and inter connection status for network management software to query and analyze.
Like the EKI-7656CI, EKI-9428G is also a managed industrial Ethernet switch. In addition to offering a variety of intelligent management functions, it is also a Layer 3 switch with partial router functions, so it can divide a large-scale area network into multiple small area networks to optimize network performance. For example, when a network broadcast storm occurs, the system can significantly reduce the damage by isolating the small area network. Featuring a solid industrial design and IEC61850-3/IEEE 1613 certification for substation applications, EKI-9428G is able to provide high-speed, reliable and stable network communication, no matter what kind of scenario.
Advantech’s WebAcces/NMS software gives full play to the EKI hardware with its remote management network equipment functions. The browser-based software allows users to view current network status on a computer via a user-friendly topology or logic diagram, and directly change the settings of the switch. Its active alarm function is used to prevent small problems from growing into bigger ones that may become uncontrollable. Taking this project as a sample, the system is set to confirm the connection status every five minutes and the EKI switches would automatically send a message to inform the management system. If a problem occurs in any network equipment, users could immediately find out from the computer screen in the control room while identifying the problem as soon as possible to accelerate troubleshooting.