As many nuclear power plant simulators worldwide are reaching 30+ years of age, input/output (I/O) system replacements are becoming more common. Hardware engineers tire of complicated repairs, obsolete parts, and maxed-out racks. Trainers and operators are tired of weekly downtime where they cannot train on the simulator due to I/O problems.
In this industry, there used not to be a choice of I/O systems. Ever since simulators were required back in 1991, nuclear power plants have routinely used proprietary systems. Their promise of “plug n’ play” functionality and a quick turnaround for implementing technology and obsolescence upgrades have kept the industry largely captive to the hefty price tag. Until now, that is.
Commercial, off-the-shelf I/O system providers with decades of proven experience in industrial, building, and marine automation offer independent, modular solutions at a lower price point. Which solution is best for you?
Legacy vs. New Modular I/O Systems: Pros and Cons
Before you compare suppliers, it is important to consider why you may want to choose a modular I/O system in the first place.
Here is a chart of the pros and cons of upgrading legacy proprietary systems versus replacement with a new modular I/O solution.
The major barrier to choosing modular I/O solutions has always been the time required to implement versus their custom counterpart. However, along with advancements in the systems themselves, GSE has reduced implementation time to a couple of weeks for a typical simulator.
The picture below demonstrates the vast difference in accessibility between the legacy I/O systems currently at most plants and a replacement modular I/O solution. You guessed it! The one on the right is the replacement I/O, a modern, modular implementation where you can actually access everything without stepping over wires!
Modular I/O Vendor Comparison
If you’ve read this far, you’re likely interested in learning more about the modular solution providers available today and how their solution stacks up against the competition.
As an experienced simulator I/O replacement partner, GSE has extensively researched and implemented some of the top names in modular I/O. The chart below compares a handful of the most prominent modular I/O solution providers; Beckoff, Wago (750), and Weidmuller (u-Remote).
I/O Interface Standardization (The Holy Grail of Modern I/O systems)
All the modern modular I/O system vendors support multiple standard I/O interfaces. With the advent of the I/O interface software standardization, you are no longer bound to the original I/O Vendor. In fact, it is possible to have all the IO systems listed above and others not even developed yet simultaneously operating in the same I/O system. This is the Holy Grail of Modern I/O systems. The advantages of this cannot be overstated. You are no longer bound to any one I/O vendor for spare parts or support. You are future-proofed.
If you’re tired of the headaches caused by I/O failures, simulator downtime, and obsolete parts, one of the above modular systems might be the best solution.
GSE can help you determine which I/O solution is best for your plant’s simulator. We’ve implemented modular systems on over a dozen simulators. Contact us to schedule a consultation.