Enel pilot: From a research testbed to a virtual educational laboratory

TitleEnel pilot: From a research testbed to a virtual educational laboratory
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsLo Bello, L., O. Mirabella, Raucea, A., and L. Capetta
JournalIEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics
Date Published12/2009

Education in the field of distributed process control and intelligent actuation and measurement (IAM) systems can be greatly enhanced through the use of tools that simulate the behavior of real systems, thus allowing students to test and compare different configurations. In this paper, we present an educational virtual laboratory, called the IAM-Pilot Virtual Laboratory (IPVL), which simulates a physical process consisting of a closed circuit of treated water implementing four regulation loops for pressure, level, flow, and temperature, respectively. This tool is the virtual implementation of a real research laboratory (IAM-Pilot), which was developed a few years ago in the framework of several projects funded by the European Commission, in order to test concepts regarding distributed systems, technologies, and components. The tool allows students to set several different system configurations, both in the control and communication parts, and then assess the resulting behavior. They can also install on the plant different virtual devices, with different features, and monitor their effect on the system. The tool produces graphs that allow students to evaluate the performance offered by the control system. This paper describes the architecture and implementation of the IPVL and reports on its usage in the context of the distributed process control network course at the Faculty of Engineering, University of Catania.