Meghri–Yerevan Gas Pipeline Automation System

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"Combining NI products with our solutions, we achieved our goal with great efficiency. We developed automated high-pressure Meghri-Yerevan gas pipeline units for implementing real-time acquisition, processing, registration, and saving the information necessary for the technological process control and monitoring."

- Hakob Gevorgyan, Van Technologies LLC

The Challenge:
Developing a system for implementing real-time acquisition, processing, registration, and saving the information necessary for technological processes control and monitoring.

The Solution:
Creating an automated control system for Meghri-Yerevan gas pipeline skids of high pressure.

Hakob Gevorgyan - Find this author in the NI Developer Community

About Van Technologies

Van Technologies LLC is a rapidly progressing company engaged in developing automation systems, supervisory control and monitoring of industrial and manufacturing facilities, designing and implementing software products, developing automated test systems, and creating educational stands for training specialists. The company has  experience with projects in the energy, oil and gas, and manufacturing industries.  All projects are based on up-to-date technologies and equipment complying with international engineering standards, particularly technologies and equipment by NI.

System Background and Solution

The system is developed based on NI production. We developed the backend system and software for stand-alone units using the LabVIEW graphical programming environment. We used a cRIO-9012 controller and NI digital and analog modules to automate the high-pressure Meghri-Yerevan gas pipeline units.

The system server continuously receives data from all stand-alone units. In case of communication channel breakdown with any unit, the server switches to the backup communication channel and notifies the user about the problem. All data received is carefully analyzed for compliance to acceptable standards of technological processes. In case of modifications, the server notifies the operator (by sound and visual means) about the problem. In exceptional cases, an autonomous decision is more acceptable, without operator interference.

The server stores all data, as well as all commands and changes the operator makes. The modern security system with different access levels excludes unauthorized operations. When technological process offsets are detected, the stand-alone unit sends a warning with the problem description. The control unit carries continuous data acquisition from pressure sensors, temperature sensors, voltage, and current control systems in pipeline and security systems, at the same time having an opportunity to control and enter adjustments in work operations of the listed devices. The structure of separate control units is built by considering the work operation in stand-alone mode under the critical situations conditions, when communication channels are disrupted.

SCADA System Functions and Means

SCADA is a process of real-time data acquisition from remote points (objects) for processing, analysis, and possible remote object control. Telemetry and alarm systems are the prototypes for the modern SCADA systems in the early stages of automated data control system development.

SCADA System Features

  1. Raw data acquisition from field devices
  2. Emergency alarm control and recording
  3. Information storage with the possibility of postprocessing
  4. Raw data processing
  5. Information visualization in the form of graphs, histograms, and more
  6. Application system operation with the set of parameters, concerned as a unit

The graphical interfaces of each SCADA system are similar. In each of them, there is a graphical object-oriented editor with a particular set of animation functions. Usable vector graphics allow implementing a large set of operations on the selected objects, as well as quickly refreshing the display using animation tools.
The operator can receive on-time information about a controlled object as mnemocircuits, tables, graphs (trends), control panels, annunciator panels, and more. At the operator’s request and upon any offset from the standard conditions, analog and discrete information can be displayed and required for situation assessment and object control.

The system software represents bundled software based on object linking and embedding into industrial automation. Due to modular architecture, we can easily expand and scale the system. Shadowing devices are implemented in the SCADA system, so in case of failure the main components of the system will be automatically replaced with the off-duty ones (without human intervention). This delivers continuous availability of the system as a whole.

Main Control Unit

Automation Unit

The automation unit (controller) includes a variety of sensors for data acquisition on technological process, electric actuators, and actuator valves for implementing control and management. Sensors deliver information to the local programmable logic controllers, carrying the following functions:

  • Data acquisition and handling on parameters of technological process
  • Electric actuators and other actuator valve control
  • Solving the problems on automated logical control

NI Products Used in This Application

NI Hardware

  • cRIO-9012 real-time controller for CompactRIO, 128 MB disc-on-chip storage
  • NI 9215 4-channel, 16-bit, ±10 V, 100 kS/s per channel, simultaneous sampling differential analog input module
  • NI 9871 4-port RS422/RS485 serial module
  • NI 9472 8-channel, 24 V, 100 us, sourcing digital output module
  • NI 9401 8-channel, 100 ns, TTL digital I/O module
  • cRIO-9102 8-slot, 1 M gate reconfigurable chassis for CompactRIO
  • cRIO-9101 4-slot, 1 M gate reconfigurable chassis for CompactRIO

NI Software

Useful NI Product Features

We used the cRIO-9012 controller for this project. All real-time controllers that are mounted into the CompactRIO can carry out stand-alone determined applications created in the LabVIEW Real-Time environment. These controllers receive required power from an external power supply with 9–35 V DC voltage and can operate in a temperature range from -40o C to 70o C. In addition, cRIO-9012 controllers come with industrial processors operating at a frequency of 400 MHz and have low power consumption.

Tunable chassis is the heart of the CompactRIO system. An FPGA chip connects to all measurement modules in a “star,” which guarantees direct access to each device and increases the possibility of a precision control system, while delivering the flexibility of synchronization and clocking.
We used a PCI bus to implement the combined operation of real-time controller and FPGA. The chassis and the other CompactRIO components are contained in a reliable, rugged metal case. The real-time controller acquires data and makes initial processing, as well as controlling high-pressure gas pipeline units. We implemented the control in an automated mode. Two 24 V inputs with a single ground control the automated valve station, according to the valve station opening and closing. During the opening mode pulse signals are blocked at the input of the closing safety system and inversely. Valve station condition is read out from the two 24 V inputs to a single ground.

The outputs are marked as an open-state indication and off-state indication (see Table 1)

Valve station condition Open-state indication Off-state indication
Open-state mode 24 V Ground
Off-state mode Ground 24 V
Open-state and  off-state period 24 V 24 V

Table 1. Valve mode indication

The system reads out the I/O pressure values, as well as pressure and temperature sensor gas temperature. A HART modem performs the reading. Each sensor has an individual network address and command batch that helps read out the data. A command sent to a sensor for measured information output contains the network addresses of specified sensors. In case of network address inconsistency, the sensor ignores the request. A wide range of commands can control and calibrate the sensor. For this case study, we use only commands to read the measured parameters. The uniqueness of the system lies in the possibility of increasing tasks, such as remote calibration and many other functions by improving the software, without needing to change the hardware. This structure offers the opportunity to read out simultaneous data from 15 sensors using one HART modem.

Communication Channels

Primary communication channel: We used a fiber-optic network as a primary communication channel that runs along the entire length of the Meghri-Yerevan gas pipeline. The fiber-optic communication is based on total reflection of electromagnetic waves at the boundary of dielectrics with different refraction indexes. An optical fiber consists of two components: a core, which is the light guide, and a clad. The refraction index of the core is little more than the refraction index of the clad, thanks to which light beams can experience multiple reflections at the core-clad boundary, veining in the core without leaving it.

Reserved communication channel: For reserved communication channel implementation, we used a turnkey GPRS network. While using GPRS, the information is gathered into packets and transmitted through the voice canals. This technology supposes more efficient use of the GSM network resources. Transmission speed depends not only on hardware capabilities, but also on network load.

Dispatcher control system: Studying problems with building effective and reliable dispatcher control systems showed the necessity of using a new approach when developing such systems. Dispatcher control and data acquisition are the most perspective methods of complicated dynamic systems (processes) control in essential and critical (in terms of safety and reliability) spheres. First, the orientation is on the dispatcher and his tasks. Using a new approach in cosmic and aircraft development and systems comparison tests confirmed its efficiency, allowing increased operator productivity to decrease procedural failures and reduce to zero all critical (non-adjustable) operator errors.

Basic Requirements to Dispatcher Control Systems

  • System reliability (technological and functional)
  • Data processing and representation accuracy
  • System expansion simplicity
  • No single failure of hardware should not cause false output signal (commands) to the control object
  • No single operator error should not cause false output signal (commands) to the control object
  • All control operations should be user friendly for operator (dispatcher)

The Server: The server is a hierarchical set of subprocedure with complex architecture. This system offers an opportunity to load the server computer. The map of Armenia and the Meghri-Yerevan gas pipeline with the automation points are visualized on the main page. 

Map Window

Each point is an active button. Clicking a button opens a window with a particular unit with visualization of all parameters of the current processes. Each button of the automation units also visualizes some parameters. A green light indicates that everything is clear. A gray light indicates communication channel loss. Blinking green with red lights identifies monitoring parameters derating. Blinking gray with red indicates connection channel loss and monitoring parameters derating by last obtained data. The automated valve station has two states: open and closed. Replacing the valve station status leads to replacing the color and flow indicators, which show the status of the unit.

Alarm Window

The server also creates a database where all the monitoring data is saved. The importance of the database lies in dynamic analysis of running processes, as well as in identifying the causes of accidents and further research. All the commands require reconfirmation with access code request. Dual confirmation excludes the improper command entry in case of operator single fault.

Log File Window


Combining NI products with our solutions, we achieved our goal with great efficiency. We developed automated high-pressure Meghri-Yerevan gas pipeline units for implementing real-time acquisition, processing, registration, and saving the information necessary for the technological process control and monitoring.


Author Information:
Hakob Gevorgyan
Find this author in the NI Developer Community

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