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PLC Based Synchrocloser

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This EPE technical white paper describes the benefit of using
Programmable Logic Controllers in conjunction with the
Beckwith M0188A Synchrocloser.
PLC BASED SYNCHROCLOSER
Daniel Flores, M.S., P.E.
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Table of Contents

Introduction ................................................................................................................... 3
Electromechanical Relay Array .................................................................................... 5
Constraints ................................................................................................................................ 5
Programmable Logic Controller ................................................................................... 6
Benefits ..................................................................................................................................... 6
Constraints ................................................................................................................................ 6
Additional Protection ................................................................................................................. 6
Summary ........................................................................................................................ 7















This document is for informational purposes only and may contain typographical errors and
technical inaccuracies. The content is provided as is, without express or implied warranties of any
kind.

June 2013 | Rev 1.0
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Introduction
For an electrical utility, synchronization is the action of comparing
the voltage, phase angle and frequency conditions between a power
source (i.e. a generator) and the electric power network (or system)
before tying up the two different voltage sources.
Once the desired conditions are within pre-set limits the
synchrocloser will send the close signal to the breaker and tie the
voltage sources.
A breaker is the field device that allows the power to go from one
point to another, something similar to an on/off switch. This breaker,
can be control from a remote location or locally.
The importance of checking the system before tying up the two
voltage sources is of such importance that, if the two sources were
not in-synch each other, once the breakers, that ties the two different
sources (i.e. generator and system), are close, and a chain reaction
would be originated, causing the system going into protection mode
until the system stabilizes itself. It is assumed that a series of short
circuits, breakers open and even damage to some power devices
could be caused






















Sinusoidal waveform
showing two out-of-
synch signals. Same
voltage and frequency,
but different phase
angle.







Figure 1- Sinusoidal waveform showing characteristics of an alternating current (AC).
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The device that does the comparison of the two power sources is
called a synchrocloser, previously known as synchronizer but the
name was changed to avoid confusion about its functionality. Some
people thought that this synchronizer had the capability of
synchronize the two power sources, but what actually does is just
comparing the conditions and sending the breaker close signal if the
conditions are meeting.
The device used at EPE is the Beckwith M-0188A Synchrocloser
Check Relay.
Theoretically, a synchrocloser unit it is needed per line and/or bus
that has to be check before closing the tying breaker.


In addition to the aforementioned requirement; some type of control
is needed to switch between each bus/line breaker selection. This
control allows a remote access to the devices selection. Also, a local
control is needed to allow field personnel to do a manual selection of
the bus/line and testing of the breakers if necessary.
It was found that the aforementioned setup had some trade-off
factors to take into consideration, among the most critical ones, and I
would say the most important, are: space and cost.
For EPE, as for many companies, space factor is very important
because every square inch represents an investment in building a
substation and/or land acquisition. The substation design
Figure 2 One synchrocloser per breaker/bus.
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requirements take into consideration every single foot of the
equipment to be installed.
Electromechanical Relay Array
Several years ago, EPE developed a solution to face the problem of
space and cost. An electromechanical relay array was developed to
check the different inputs with a single Beckwith M-0188A
Synchrocloser Check Relay unit.
Constraints
This array solved the problem of the using a single synchrocloser per
field breaker and addressed the problem of the cost as well.
Nevertheless, the problem of the unit building was not solved and
other problems emerged; such as, the troubleshooting of an existing
faulty field unit, as well as a defective array just built and fail detected
during its testing period at the lab.



This electromechanical relay array possesses the characteristic of
being a customizable system. The only problem with this approach is
that the array has to be customized for each particular location to be
installed. In other words, the synchrocloser array for one substation
not necessarily can work for a different location.
Electromechanical
relay used at the old
Synchrocloser model.
An array of 23 of these
relays was used on the
old Synchrocloser
model.

Figure 3 - Synchrocloser array using electromechanical relays.
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Programmable Logic Controller
On 2013, EPE researched and developed an array using
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) as a replacement for the
electromechanical relay array.
A Programmable Logic Controller is an electronic device capable of
replace a group of electromechanical relays. The PLC has the
property to change its logic by programming and storing a program
on its memory.
In this case, the PLC used for the synchrocloser array is the
Siemens PLC Logo!. There are no special reasons why we decided
to use that particular PLC brand, the only three reasons was:
availability, cost and friendly programming interface based on blocks
instead of pure ladder programming.
Benefits
After the development of a 7-breaker type synchrocloser PLC array,
among the main benefits found we can enlist the following:
Space.- Considerably reduction on space. From a full 19 inch
rack, (standard size is about 42 rack units) to a little bit more of 1/3
on its size (around 16 rack units), this equals to a 38% on space
reduction.
Total Cost- A decrease on its total construction cost of 48%.
Building time- The building time was reduced from 120 hours to
40 hours. This represents a reduction of a 33%. The saving cost is
already reflected on the previous total cost.
Customizable- This technology allows us to make adjustments
quicker than on the electromechanical and by adding an extra PLC
CPU and expansion modules for 7 more breakers.
Constraints
It was found that this type of PLC has the capacity of 16 relay
outputs only. This is a capacity limitation set by the manufacturer.
But, since the concept has been already developed by this
department, the next step would be to find a PLC alternative that can
handle more relay outputs. This is only to reduce the space, even
more, on its design.
Additional Protection
As and additional protection, not required by the specifications of the
PLC, an array of opto-isolators was added to keep the two different
voltages supplies, that are utilized on the PLC, separated. This way
we assure a better isolation between the AC and DC used on the
same relay output at the PLC.
The Siemens PLC used for this synchrocloser allows to mix an AC
and DC inputs on the same module. Nevertheless, for protection
purposes it was decided to implement the additional opto-isolater
array.

Siemens PLC Logo!
Used on the EPE
synchrocloser array
to replace
electromechanical
relay array. This
model has 8 inputs X
4 relay outputs.

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Table 1. Cost Comparison Chart. This chart shows the cost difference between an
electromechanical (blue) array and PLC (green) based array.
Summary
As a conclusion, the research done by EPE to improve the
construction of a novel synchrocloser system to replace the
electromechanical one, currently still used at EPE substations, threw
that the implementation of PLC is an efficient way to replace
electromechanical relays. As shown at the above table (Table 1), the
construction cost is reduced. The green bar shows the cost for a
PLC based synchrocloser and the blue one shows the cost for an
existing elechtromechanical array. Another benefit for the new PLC
system is the availability of the construction hardware; all the parts
are usually available by different providers, since the
electromechanical system is getting more difficult to find the pieces
needed for its construction. Also, there are several PLC
manufacturers that by doing a few more research and a minimum
redesign can be used to build a synchrocloser.
In conjunction with the aforementioned findings, the space needed
for the PLC synchrocloser installation is not bigger than the space
that is currently used on the electromechanical system. In fact, the
PLC based system takes less area than the electromechanical
system. In other words, more breaker controls can be installed in the
Labor Cost just array Total cost
Electmech $4,200 $1,407 $5,607
PLC $1,400 $1,312 $2,712
$-
$1,000
$2,000
$3,000
$4,000
$5,000
$6,000
U
.
S
.
D

Cost Comparison Chart
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same area required for an electromechanical array with less
breakers.