User report CHP

CHP control & monitoring: Economical operation of energy centers with combined heat and power plants


Luana combined heat and power plants (CHP) are widespread throughout Germany and operate in industry, in the housing sector or in municipalities. A central service portal monitors the plants and thus ensures the highest possible plant availability. The prerequisite for this is a stable and robust data connection.

People are rarely seen here. CHP units generate heat and electricity in remote basements. And highly efficiently. In order to obtain information about the condition of the equipment at any time, the system operators do not have to enter the energy center. A remote monitoring system, the LEA-Box from the technical service provider Luana Technics & Engineering records all important plant parameters with a large number of sensors. It continuously reads the current values of water meters, gas, electricity and heat meters, pumps, boilers and motors and transmits the data to the LEA portal developed in-house – the service center.

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“Plant monitoring functions largely automatically. If, for example, the flow temperature falls below a preset minimum value, the system triggers a fault message,” reports Malte Brakhage, project engineer at Luana. The alerted 24-hour trouble-shooting team can then access the plant values via the LEA portal. Based on the fault message and the information in the LEA portal, the cause of the fault can usually be determined remotely. “In the event of a system malfunction, a technician must rectify the fault as quickly as possible. Via remote monitoring, every second on-site call-out can be avoided. The data show, for example, that there is no malfunction in the plant itself, but that only a single apartment may be affected. Often, for example, it is enough for tenants to vent their heating. With the help of remote monitoring, this saves the need for a fitter. This reduces costs, especially in the case of error messages on weekends,” adds the project engineer.

Own solution for remote monitoring of CHP units

In order for the monitoring of the many decentralized CHP units via the service center to work, the plants must be monitored very reliably. “The CHP units have been running completely stable for more than 10 years. Remote monitoring must also be available around the clock for this long. An important requirement for the technology is that all the components used, such as sensors, data loggers and the mobile radio router, are designed for this purpose,” says Tammo Krüger, Managing Director of Luana Technics & Engineering. Reliably capturing and transmitting the data to the service center initially proved to be a problem. “We looked at the available solutions on the market and didn’t find what we needed. For example, we are dealing here with very special interfaces such as 1-Wire for the temperature sensors or the M-Bus for energy meters,” Malte Brakhage describes the challenge. “We therefore decided to develop our own solution,” says the project engineer. With the LEA system (Luana Energy Center Analysis), plant monitoring is now ensured.

The robust and waterproof housing of the LEA-Box contains the connection terminals for the sensors, the data logger and the industrial mobile router. All manufacturer-specific interfaces are integrated in the box. This allows the entire energy system with boilers, pumps and the heating circuits to be connected. The plant values collected by the data logger are finally sent to the LEA portal via the mobile router, where they are automatically evaluated, visualized and processed for automated reports.

Luana Projektmitarbeiter

Secure and reliable data transmission

The entire remote monitoring system only works if the data transmission is absolutely reliable. The technology service provider had compared and tested different cellular routers. “Most of the devices were out of the question because of the lack of robustness of the plastic housings or the wrong sizes. With MC Technologies, we found a manufacturer that specializes in industrial-grade solutions and meets our requirements,” he says. The technology is highly fault-resistant and also compatible with HSPA+/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS. This means that the different local network coverages can be flexibly covered with just one device. The mobile router is equipped with a Linux operating system, a 4-port Ethernet switch and various security components (integrated firewall, VPN, secure authentication via X509, certificate and pre-shared key). Since the LEA box with the router is often installed in basement rooms with thick concrete walls, MC Technologies also provides an outdoor antenna with a 5m cable.

Concept for on-site installation

Together with MC Technologies, a solution was found for ensuring an automatic mobile radio connection for the decentralized CHP sites without the need for a specialized technician to be on site during the installation itself. The handy box is first pre-installed at Luana with all components, pre-wired and ready for operation. The configuration of the cellular router is read in from a USB stick at the first startup; manual configuration is not required. The local heating engineer then receives a package with the box, which he only has to mount on the wall and connect the cables for the acquisition of measurement data to the standardized terminals.

Conclusion: Economical plant operation

The integration of further CHP units is now routine for Luana. The reliable data connection is ensured by the robust cellular router. The common manufacturer-specific interfaces are covered by the LEA-Box and the effort for the system connection has been reduced significantly. With the LEA portal, it was possible to further optimize the security of supply and, by automating many functions, to further increase the economic efficiency of the plant.

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