ABB has supplied 24 Inform SM series videographic data recorders, including 20 of the company’s new large-screen SM3000 units, to Ferrybridge C power station as part of an upgrade of the station’s control room equipment. Since they were installed, the units have helped to eliminate the time and cost associated with running the plant’s previously used paper chart recorders.

The recorders are monitoring and collecting data on a range of processes. They have been installed at each of four 50O MW generating control panels within the control room, each comprising five SM3000s and one SM1000. At each station, the SM3000 units are used to collect data on boiler emissions and for turbine and boiler feed pump monitoring. The SM3000’s 12 inch (30cm) backlit colour display enables this information to be easily read at a distance, which was one of Ferrybridge’s main requirements. The smaller SM1000 units are used to monitor boiler performance and collect data on parameters that include pressure, temperature, feedwater and steam and air flows. Both types of recorder are very simple to operate, with all commands and information presented in a familiar Windows-based environment. Ferrybridge previously had 34 paper chart recorders installed on each generator control panel, comprising a combination of different models with anything from one to 30 channels. Problems were experienced with frequent breakdowns, incurring long periods of downtime partly because some of the units were over 15 years old and obsolete. The new units are inherently more reliable, mechanicaly at least, having no moving parts.

The SM3000 units have 36 channels enabling data to be recorded from analogue, digital and Modbus inputs. This data can be viewed in a variety of formats, with strip and circular chart, bargraph and process views all included as standard. Flash memory cards can store several months’ worth of data, which can be imported into ABB’s DataManager PC software tool, which provides graphical presentation, automatic validation and spreadsheet-style formatting of archived process data files.

“Finding a piece of data recorded by one of our old chart recorders often meant trawling through yards of paper. Even when we found it, there was no way of quickly presenting it an electronic format,” says control and electrical services manager Dave Sprakes. “Using the SM recorders has greatly simplified the process.”

The data recorders were enhanced by the addition of several new functions requested by the customer, including a simultaneous multiple screen facility and synchronisation with a standard broadcast time signal.