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Pipeline Company 'Pumped' About OPC

The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. is using OPC solutions from Kepware Technologies to help create a simulated I/O and valve system that will predict and modify programming and operating configurations before they reach the field.

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Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (APSC) is the operator of one of the largest pipeline systems in the world. The Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) stretches 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope through rugged and beautiful terrain to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in North America. Since TAPS startup in 1977, APSC has successfully transported over 15-billion barrels of oil through the pipeline.

In a recent project to enhance the TAPS automation architecture and provide the capability to remotely operate the 800-mile system, APSC identified that the installation of new equipment would alter hydraulic and operating parameters. After a review of their options, APSC engineers decided to create a simulated I/O and valve system in order to predict and modify programming and operating configurations. The control components of the final simulator setup and their corresponding connectivity option are listed below:

•ControlLogix PLCs by Rockwell Automation with OPC server RSLinx
• ICS Triplex PLCs with ICS DDE server
• I/O Simulator by Telvent with Telvent OPC server
• Valve Simulator configured in UCOS DCS with Modbus TCP/IP slave

To complete the system, APSC engineers looked for the best way to tie these virtual control components and I/O together. APSC learned of Kepware Technologies products from a system integrator working on the project. Kepware is based in Portland, Maine, and specializes in OPC and device-communication technologies.

To connect to the existing components, Kepware’s OPC server KEPServerEX with DDE Client driver plug-in and Modbus TCP/IP master driver plug-in were chosen. To then “pump” the data between connectivity components, Kepware’s OPC server bridging product LinkMaster was utilized.

The diagram shows a basic depiction of how data is transmitted between the various components. According to Jim Foster the lead APSC engineer on the project, “With this configuration we are able to mimic our controllers and field I/O in our lab environment to test and troubleshoot certain aspects of our system before the programming reaches the field. The simulation system will also be utilized to test and qualify the control center operators in conjunction with other training tools.”

For more information about OPC solutions from Kepware Technologies, visit

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