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SCADA Solution Development for a Solar Tracking System

About the Customer:

Our esteemed customer is an Indian subsidiary of one of the global leaders in renewable energy power generation.

Their team was on a critical task of improving the efficiency of their existing solar power open field implementations.

Business Challenge:

  • Management of thousands of solar panels on the field was a challenge. As the assets were being managed manually, it required the investment of a lot of manpower.
  • Hence the customer desired to optimize and automate the tracking, monitoring and configuration activities of all the assets of the plant, including solar panels and various electric motors.

Why was the Current Method of Monitoring Assets Not Efficient?

  • Since the existing method of asset monitoring was manual, it was highly time-consuming to discover the non-functional solar panels. Hence, it had become difficult to assess the health of the assets and take corrective measures in a timely manner.
  • This also brought about an ambiguity for the customer. Due to manual operations, the customer was not able to accurately forecast the output of the solar panels. This also impacted the efficiency of the end-to-end operations of the Solar Power Plant.
  • The asset monitoring and configuration process needed to be streamlined by having a single snapshot of all the assets.

What was Required to Overcome the Limitations of Manual Monitoring and Achieve the Desired Outcome?

  • The customer wanted to simplify the entire activity of asset handling.
  • There was a need for remote monitoring of the solar panels, electric motors and other assets. This was necessary to ensure that the solar power generation was consistently optimum.
  • An IoT Gateway solution was required to achieve cloud connectivity.

Embitel’s Solution:

  • We developed a smart IoT Gateway device which is a cloud-based solution.
  • We designed an IoT enabled system wherein the IoT sensors retrofitted to the existing solar panels relayed relevant information to the cloud.
  • Based on that information, the cloud would send actionable inputs to the SCADA solution which facilitated the regional managers to remotely control the Solar Panels.

Key Highlights of the SCADA Solution:

  • The designed SCADA solution ensures remote monitoring and control of the positions and advanced system health conditions of all the solar panels.
  • This SCADA solution has been developed to continuously monitor multiple field-implementations consisting of thousands of master trackers and their respective slave trackers. Hence, this was a single pane of glass solution for our customer’s business challenge.
  • The SCADA system also maintains past data for offline analysis and reporting. This ensures that the efficiency of the solar tracking system can be monitored. Decision making is hence, based on solid data backed by evidence and study.
  • Our Industrial Automation software developers also designed proprietary software to support Firmware over the Air (FOTA) update.
  • Our team designed an auxiliary software solution to support system configuration and a testing automation software for production support of the hardware boards at the manufacturing stage.
  • We partnered with the customer for field deployment and testing during post prototype development phase.
  • The communication between cloud and device assets were secured through SSL encryption.
  • On the SCADA system, security was ensured by enabling role-based access.

Embitel’s Impact:

  • Our Industrial IoT solution proved to be a value-add for seamless management of the customer’s on-field assets (solar panels and electric motors).
  • The solution remotely managed tens of thousands of solar panels on the field.
  • It has been deployed by the customer, as a one-stop solution for multiple solar plants in different cities or regions.

Tools & Technologies:

  • SCADA solution was developed using Django scripting tool.
  • For IoT platform communications – MQTT protocol was used for all data transfers from the trackers to SCADA. SCADA solution also used MQTT protocol for monitoring each tracker.
  • Master device communicates with the remote SCADA system with the help of LTE system.
  • Master device also has wired connectivity using Ethernet network, over any broadband connection for remote fields.

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