Some projects are like the foundation of a building – perhaps unseen and unrecognized, but essential to the stability of the structure. That was the case at a Nevada geothermal energy plant owned by Enel Green Power North America. Our team’s task was to upgrade and update the control system that works in the background to make energy production possible. The core of the project was to update the legacy Rockwell control system to the latest version, involving a software migration as well as a migration to a virtual server. This work was important to helping the plant continue to operate, in that the plant can now run current versions of application programs, and install new versions and patches as they become available. One reason for the urgency was that Enel’s outdated computer system was running Windows XP software, which is no longer supported by the software provider. This left the company vulnerable because patches and updates are no longer being provided.
Rectifying this required a complete computer and operating system upgrade. Our role included migrating all of their control software to the latest versions, which was particularly important as many of the older operating systems they were using would not run on the current hardware that had been installed. In the process, we were able to make the task of licence management easier – previously, they had just independently managed the licences for each computer. We created a licence manager and an admin consult computer, which they did not have before. This meant that the detailed, demanding task of keeping licences current is now less time-consuming for staff, and more reliable. So that Enel could continue to have a reliable way to capture data, we migrated the old version of their historian through a very tedious process to get the latest version. That involved a hundred-page document to do the migration between the old and new data formats.
Success on this project involved keeping watch over the big picture -- the intended outcome -- while managing a wide range of details. It provided redundancy and resiliency through the updated software and hardware, as well as the migration to a virtual server. Like any well-designed foundation, it gives Enel a structure to build on – a control system that lets them access the operational and analytical benefits offered by current application software.