For over twenty years, Network Systems has been working on remote monitoring and control systems designed to meet the needs of our electric generation and distribution clients. In 2002, after evaluating available technology, Network Systems embraced the concept of on-line remote monitoring and control, performed using commercially available hardware and software systems and utilizing an open client-server architecture and standard protocols. We call it the Virtual Energy Management System or Virtual–EMS®. Virtual–EMS® is a management information system designed to provide a secure, user-friendly means of disseminating system operating and performance information to authorized users.
Network Systems’ Virtual–EMS® integrates all monitoring, control, archiving, and analysis functions, usually available only at hard-wired “brick-and-mortar” centers, and puts them on-line. With Virtual–EMS®, any user that has access to the Internet can perform any of these functions, previously available only at a central location, using a common point-and-click Graphic User Interface. This allows for the creation of “virtual” control rooms or operations centers consisting simply of a group of authorized users, each located literally anywhere in the world.
Virtual–EMS® accomplishes this by using commercially available state-of-the-art hardware and software components and standard protocols integrated in an Internet-based client-server architecture. The system can be configured for a wide variety of applications, from single small generation units to large electric generation and distribution systems. Individual system components can be upgraded at any time to take advantage of the latest technological advances, without having to replace the entire system. Moreover, all remote communications is via Internet or Intranet, allowing for easy addition of new systems or users.
Network Systems’ Virtual–EMS® consists of several hardware and software modules that are configured according to the nature of the specific application. There are three basic types of applications; 1) monitoring and analysis of large electric generating stations, 2) monitoring and control of remote, typically unmanned, small generation units, and 3) SCADA Systems for electric distribution networks. While these are typically independent of each other, Virtual–EMS® allows for the integration of any or all of these applications into a single system, at any time.
NSEC developed Virtual–EMS® to provide users with the current, real-time information needed to monitor and control almost any type of process, distribution, or specialty system effectively, efficiently, and reliably. In general, Virtual–EMS® includes the following functions:
- Graphical Operator (Human-Machine) Interface for Monitoring and Control
- Historical Data Collection, Archiving, and Retrieving
- Report Generation (including client-defined reports)
- Alarm Processing
- Historical Event Processing (Trending)
- Sequence of Events Processing
- System Performance Analysis (including evaluation of losses)
The original version of Virtual-EMS® utilized a thick-client user interface (OSIsoft’s ActiveView) to provide users access to system displays maintained on a remote web server and updated in quasi real time from an OSIsoft PI Server, as well as other data sources.
Currently, Network Systems is in the process of deploying VEMS Portal®, a thin-client version of our original Virtual–EMS®. Developed using Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal technology and OSIsoft’s PI Server and RtPM applications, VEMS Portal® provides access to real-time and historical information from a variety of sources via a secure, thin-client, web-browser user interface. Furthermore, under VEMS Portal®, information displays can be displayed on Smart Phones (such as Blackberry or the IPhone) providing management personnel continuous access to important system information. Displays can even be tailor-made for the small phone screens.
Network Systems’ Virtual Energy Management System integrates all monitoring, analysis, and reporting functions available from traditional Energy Management Systems, and puts them on-line. With Virtual–EMS® or VEMS Portal®, any user that has access to the Internet can perform any of these functions using a common point-and-click Graphic User Interface. Furthermore, by integrating the full capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint Services, the system can seamlessly access information from business relational databases (like outage management or computerized maintenance management systems) as well as real time process monitoring systems.
The system can be configured for a wide variety of applications, from single small generation units to large electric generation and distribution systems. Individual system components can be upgraded at any time to take advantage of the latest technological advances, without having to replace the entire system. Moreover, all remote communications is via Internet or Intranet, allowing for easy addition of new systems or users.
Whether using Virtual–EMS® or VEMS Portal®, the system has several unique features, including:
- Security – The system utilizes both Windows authentication as well as OSIsoft PI System security, such as access user ID/password protection, to ensure protection against unauthorized access of data.
- Historical Playback Mode – Users can place any system display in “Playback” mode. This mode allows users to playback historical information in slow motion, normal time, or fast-forward.
- Reports Access Program – Integrated into the system, this program allows users to remotely access “Scheduled” or “On-Demand” reports that are linked to data on the OSIsoft PI Server. Because the Virtual–EMS® Server generates the reports, users require no access to the PI Server. Scheduled reports run automatically at predetermined intervals and are useful for generating daily, weekly, or monthly status reports. On-Demand reports are configured and run remotely by the user and are used to perform the same calculations on user selectable stations or equipment for user selectable time frames.