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RTI DDS Selected for Upgrade of Grand Coulee Dam’s Control System

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Real-Time Innovations has announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected RTI Data Distribution Service (DDS) for an upgrade of the Grand Coulee Dam’s control system. RTI’s middleware will integrate components of the dam’s next-generation Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, enabling more efficient and reliable hydroelectric power generation.  

The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydropower plant in the United States. The plant must carefully control how it supplies power to the grid. Failures that cause power spikes or dropouts are not acceptable. The project to retrofit the control system is for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) in cooperation with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydroelectric Design Center (HDC) is the system integrator; HDC selected RTI Data Distribution Service to implement a highly available, high-performance and scalable control system.

The dam network connects a 40,000-point SCADA system controlling 30 generators to the transmission switchyard. In the new architecture, RTI DDS will be used to integrate 50 to 60 Linux-based Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) on the central control network with Windows Human-Machine Interface (HMI) systems and various database and health-monitoring servers. The system will run on standard, ruggedized commercial computing hardware. The architecture will eventually be deployed on a network of 12 dams in the Federal Columbia River Power System.

Automated Control Systems (ACSI) is a contractor on the project. ACSI President Dan Perrier noted, “The dam control system processes waveform data, power metrics, temperatures, oil levels, vibration sensors and more. The current system uses many different protocols. DDS, with its flexible configuration and high performance, is easier to work with and is a better way to integrate the systems.”

RTI DDS provides messaging for mission-critical distributed applications. It combines low latency, high throughput and fault tolerance in a scalable architecture for real-time systems.  Systems built with RTI middleware are loosely coupled; they communicate easily but under strict Quality of Service (QoS) control.  Developers can specify the exact needed timing and reliability for each communication path. Direct peer-to-peer connection ensures fast delivery with no single points of failure. Automated configuration allows hot-swap, non-stop redundancy. Subsystems can start in any order, join or leave, or insert upgrades without impacting existing operation.  RTI reliably delivers the right data to the right place at the right time.