News Column

Patent Issued for Network Supervision with Control Systems

February 11, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventors Hansen, Kai (Oslo, NO); Stanica, Marius-Petru (Ploiesti, RO); Gelle, Esther (Remetschwil, CH), filed on July 20, 2009, was published online on January 28, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8639799, is ABB Research Ltd. (CH).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Industrial control systems are for instance applied in manufacturing and process industries, such as chemical plants, oil production or processing plants, refineries, pulp and paper mills, steel mills and automated factories. Industrial control systems are also widely used within the electrical power industry. Such industrial control systems have a large amount of network infrastructure, of which a major proportion can be based on Ethernet and TCP/IP technology. With such large data and control infrastructures there is an important requirement for an efficient supervision of the plant behaviour, and also for efficient supervision of the network infrastructure."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The object of the present invention is to provide an industrial controller with a method and a means to combine process-related information with data communication network-related information from data network monitoring and/or supervision. This may be used for plant development both at commissioning and operational time. The improvement may also provide cause identification of failed process devices. An embodiment of the present invention provides an improvement to methods of network management for an industrial plant, both at commissioning and at operational times.

"According to an aspect of the invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said method comprising the steps of gathering process information, and gathering network information, and further by comparing information provided by data communications network monitoring with process control information and using the result of the comparison to assist in determining a cause of a problem or possible problem in a process controlled of the said industrial control system.

"According to an embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said method comprising the steps of gathering process information, and gathering network information, and further by comparing information to determine a cause of a fault or possible fault wherein the information is gathered in real-time.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said method comprising the steps of gathering process information, and gathering network information, and further by comparing information to determine a cause of a fault or possible fault wherein the process or process control information is gathered by means of a data server compatible with a standard for object linking or information exchange between distributed, mixed or un-homogenous systems.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said method comprising the steps of gathering process information, and gathering network information, and further by comparing information to determine a cause of a fault or possible fault wherein the process or process control information is gathered by means of a data server compatible with OPC.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said method comprising the steps of gathering process information, and gathering network information, and further by comparing information to determine a cause of a fault or possible fault wherein the data communications network monitoring information is gathered by means of a device and/or application compatible with SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol).

"According to another embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said method comprising the steps of gathering process information, and gathering network information, and further by comparing information provided by data communications network monitoring with process control information and using the result of the comparison to assist in determining a cause of a problem or possible problem in a process controlled by a process controller in the said industrial control system, and by comparing the combined information gathered according to SNMP and OPC in order to assist in determining the cause of the fault or the possible fault.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, wherein process information is compared to network information and recording an information, and/or an event, and/or an alarm in the said industrial control system when the said process information indicates a problem, but the said network monitoring information does not indicate a problem.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, wherein process information is compared to network information and by checking, on receipt of a faulty status for a process device that the process logic is as expected, and checking on receiving confirmation that the process logic is as expected all network devices the process device is connected to, and by generating an alarm for the process logic of the process device or the process device if all the network devices show a normal status; or else by generating an alarm if some of the network devices show a faulty status for the faulty network devices.

"According to another embodiment of the present invention a method is described for supervising an industrial control system, wherein process information is compared to network information and by identifying one or more persons responsible for the controlled process and by sending information based on a copy of the recorded information to one or more of them.

"According to another aspect of the present invention, an industrial control system is described comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said system comprising means for gathering process information, and gathering network information, wherein the system further comprises network isolation means for segregating the networks and one or more applications means for comparing information provided by data communications network monitoring with process control information and using the result of the comparison to assist in determining a cause of a problem or possible problem in a process controlled of the said industrial control system.

"According to another aspect of the present invention, an industrial control system is described comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said system comprising means for gathering process information, and gathering network information, wherein the system further comprises at least one data server means compatible with OPC.

"According to another aspect of the present invention, an industrial control system is described comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said system comprising means for gathering process information, and gathering network information, wherein the system further comprises means for gathering data communications network monitoring information comprising a device, application or agent compatible with SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol).

"According to another aspect of the present invention, an industrial control system is described comprising a plant network for supervision, a client/server network for server connection with workstations, a control network connected to industrial controllers, said system comprising means for gathering process information, and gathering network information, wherein the system further comprises means for comparing the combined information gathered according to SNMP and OPC.

"A principal advantage of the present invention is that information from the industrial process or equipment may be combined with information from the data communication networks and provide improved diagnostic capabilities in industrial plants and processes. Another advantage is that the functionality offered by the existing network management tools is extended by the present invention so filling an existing gap in condition detection and reporting. This provides improved information and facilitate will help both plant operation both at commissioning and operational time by facilitating detection of failed or failing process devices. The additional scope provides information to perform the cause identification of some failed or failing process devices. This improvement is also of benefit during plant development or upgrades, again both during commissioning and during subsequent normal operation.

"Additional advantages include that the diagnostic functionality for existing industrial controller devices and other networked process devices is improved, without additional hardware or configuration changes. The methods involved may also be implemented in a user friendly way.

"In a preferred embodiment of the methods of the invention one or more methods may be carried out by a computing device comprising one or more microprocessor units or computers. The control unit(s) comprises memory means such for storing one or more computer programs for carrying out the improved methods. Preferably such computer program contains instructions for the processor to perform the method as mentioned above and described in more detail below."

For more information, see this patent: Hansen, Kai; Stanica, Marius-Petru; Gelle, Esther. Network Supervision with Control Systems. U.S. Patent Number 8639799, filed July 20, 2009, and published online on January 28, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=18&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=884&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140128.PD.&OS=ISD/20140128&RS=ISD/20140128

Keywords for this news article include: ABB Research Ltd., Information Technology, Information and Data Server.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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