Production Data Network

A Production Data Network in Industrial Use

10.02.2011 | Autor / Editor: U. Lieske* / Praktikant VTT

After a virus attack Vattenfall Europe Mining searched for a Production Data Network that would ensure production security.

After a virus attack Vattenfall Europe Mining searched for a Production Data Network that would ensure production security and allow integration and harmonization of existing solutions and interfaces. Together with PC-Soft GmbH a system was developed that meets these expectations.

The extent of IT implementation in system, process and production engineering is growing at a rapid pace. Ethernet and Windows operating systems are no longer rarities in production environments. Processes are networked together within and across the value creation chain and the flow of material is becoming more and more closely linked to the electronic flow of information.

In this scenario, heated discussions sometimes break out as to how industrial networks, which are increasingly incorporating standard technologies from the office world, should be constructed, secured and operated in the future. The approaches differ from case to case through integration or separation. In their most extreme versions, production networking is taken over completely from the IT structure or the person in charge of systems refuses to connect his system network to the office world.

Initial Situation

Starting in 2003, following a virus attack, the design of production networks at Vattenfall Europe Mining AG underwent new and fundamental consideration. Vattenfall Europe Mining is responsible within the Vattenfall Energy Group for pit coal mining and supplying power plants in the Lausitz lignite district near Cottbus, Germany, see Fig. 1.

Between the control stations of the production areas of water management (drawdown), strip mining (coal mining in 4 open-cast mines), railway operations (transportation of the coal to the power plants), power supply (supplying own facilities with power) and technical services, there was already a backbone network which merely provided for connectivity at the network level and a connection to the Group’s network. A strategic approach needed to be developed which offered a practicable framework for designing networks in production areas and systems beyond project-driven island solutions.

The Task

The task for a new Production Data Network (PDN) was thus described more comprehensively as the ‘Lausitz production data network’:

“A uniform solution for simple provision and management of software applications as a service from the control stations of the opencast mines, technical service, water management and railway operations as well as from the operational diagnostics servers in the process lines of open-cast mines.”

With a minimum of administrative efforts, the aim was:

  • to ensure production security using secure, available and manageable infrastructure networks and applications, and
  • to integrate and harmonize existing solutions and interfaces.

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