Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation: Enhanced Test Method for IWOCS

“We have always done it that way”.
This can be seven expensive words if used in an industry that continuously search for safety improvement and cost reduction.

Data Respons and Agito have performed a study where the scope is to explain how Hardware-In-the-Loop can be applied in the development of, and test of subsea control system software. The study points on what improvements can be expected on both safety and development cost and is partly funded by Innovation Norway and NCE Systems Engineering Kongsberg.

The oil and gas industry has always improved their technology and pushed the limits for what’s possible in harsh environments. New technology has continuously been applied, limits has been challenged and needs for new and enhanced test methods have been a result of this. Installation and Work-Over Control System (IWOCS) is a system which has local control of the well whilst operating on a live well. Risk for accidents with impact on equipment, personnel and environment is high. At the same time it is a constant demand from the operators that the well maintenance shall be performed as fast as possible and failures, which can result in extra hours of lost production, is not an option.

By introducing Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) as a test method on IWOCS, the risk for control system failures are reduced. System upgrades and reconfigurations to different subsea systems and environments, can be thoroughly tested onshore before sent offshore for installation. The required time for testing offshore can be reduced without reducing the level of safety in the process.

System level testing is one of the major expenses in developing Embedded Control Systems for offshore installations. The need to minimize time to market while simultaneously producing thoroughly tested products present tremendous challenges. Increasing levels of complexity in system hardware and software are making this problem more severe with each new generation of products. Additionally, any significant changes to an existing product’s hardware or software must be thoroughly regression-tested to confirm that the changes do not produce unintended effects.

Using HiL simulation technology for testing control systems makes it possible to perform extensive testing at early stages of the development process. Safety routines can be developed, optimized and verified against systems with same response as the real systems without damaging equipment or creating hazard situations for test personnel.

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