DST Controls Manages Data Center Load Balance with Kepware Solution

Sept. 6, 2012
Using a communications driver from Kepware Technologies, a data integration company monitors more than 200,000 physical signals in an e-commerce data center to manage energy load information for delivery to Rocky Mountain Power.

DST Controls is a full service control systems and industrial data integration company headquartered in Benicia, CA.  It serves customers on five continents with automated control and monitoring of industrial equipment, processes, and data.

As a control and data systems integrator, DST accomplishes its mission by using proven, off-the-shelf hardware and software solutions when possible, and inventing effective hardware and software solutions when necessary.

DST’s multi-disciplined staff provides control, automation, and data collection systems to a wide range of industries from water treatment to power-grid substations; from vibration-dampening systems for satellite launch vehicles to automated quality control systems for bottling.  If processes, equipment, or industrial data flow need automating, DST Controls is the systems integrator to do it.

Business Situation

DST’s customer, a large e-commerce data center near Salt Lake City, was advised by Rocky Mountain Power that it needed to provide the utility  with up-to-date information on energy demand in the Center.  In addition, Rocky Mountain Power needed to satisfy requirements from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).  NERC is certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to establish and enforce reliability standards for the bulk-power system. As a manager of the grid, NERC requires that the utility “balance” power needs.

In order to do that they need forecasts for demand, which in the case of the data center is provided by a DST system. 

As the largest energy utility in the state, Rocky Mountain Power’s fundamental issue on the grid is to balance power—load from supply.  Rocky Mountain Power is always, at every moment, balancing the demand and the supply of electricity in Utah and needs accurate, real-time warnings of demand changes. Even a few minutes warning of a demand change makes a difference in power reliability and fuel cost.

“Many customers and utilities alike manage demand and supply by dispatching their engineers to spend hours creating spreadsheets and calling each other with their very latest out-of-date forecasts,” says Greg Dumas, DST Chief Technology Officer. 

The data center looked to DST to provide a more sophisticated way to manage energy load information for delivery to Rocky Mountain Power.

Technical Situation

Rocky Mountain Power and the data center called in DST to design a system that would provide all the necessary information to manage NERC requirements.  “At first we thought we could tie the two LANs together but it became impossible for legal and technical reasons,” says DST’s Dumas.  “Looking to Kepware—the only technology that could do what we needed—we developed a Modbus-based system to satisfy all requirements.”

Today DST monitors more than 200,000 physical signals in the data center and turned to Kepware Technologies to provide the communications driver to “keep us connected,” says Dumas.

“Nearly all building management or electrical systems are designed like they don’t need to talk with any other systems,” says Dumas.  “The problem is that you just can’t have enough staff to manually monitor the site, so you need to have a system that aggregates the data to develop total energy use systems.  When you connect the monitoring system to other systems is where Kepware comes in.  It’s the glue that keeps everything talking to each other.”  Read the rest of the story.

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