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Communication Solution for Process Industry

Case 1: Advanced Process Control [APC] System Benefits from the New OPC UA Technology

Case 2: Training Simulator System Enhanced with OPC UA Integration

Advanced Process Control [APC] System Benefits from the New OPC UA Technology


Prosys OPC has collaborated with Neste to add the new OPC UA communication protocol to NAPCON Informer real-time process database. NAPCON Controller is Neste’s proprietary advanced control technology, which uses a model-based multivariable multistep technology including adaptation, disturbance estimation, online calculations, general constraint handling, online analyzer support and recipe integration. NAPCON Controller was originally developed for optimizing control of polyolefin reactors and polymer product properties and was rapidly generalized for oil refining and petrochemical plants. It has proved to be valuable in improving plant operation management and in providing substantial improvements in product uniformity, yield, throughput and on-spec production. NAPCON software products utilize an integrated NAPCON real-time database and historian, with several external interfaces to other systems.

Agile methods for customer value

The initial assignment from Neste was to develop an OPC UA server based on .NET technology to enable use of the NAPCON database via OPC UA. Agile methods were used in the project to maximize the customer value for each iteration. After a feasibility study and a complete system design phase, iterative development began. Throughout development of the software Prosys OPC and Neste held regular review sessions to examine recent developments and focus on next step improvements. This way, on each step, the features most valuable to the customer were added to the system.

Robust OPC UA connectivity

The developed OPC UA capabilities are used, for example, in exchanging data between the NAPCON real-time database and a DCS or PLC. NAPCON features full OPC UA server and client capabilities to suit any kind of solution perfectly. The new OPC UA software integrates with existing solutions and special care has been taken to minimize the need for manual configuration, which has been seen as the main reason to faulty configurations. A special configuration utility was developed to address the issue.

The use of OPC UA offers NAPCON an improved connectivity technology to be used in the various external connections. OPC UA also enables application design improvements by providing a communication protocol which can be used for internal communications between different application modules. Some of the benefits of OPC UA include easier and more flexible deployment to different computer and network environments (network firewall configurations, for instance), secure communications and an unified interface and information model for current data values, alarms, commands and references between data items.

Neste UI

Flexible user interfaces

Collaboration between Prosys OPC and Neste continues in further development of the system on many fronts.

An example of a new OPC UA related innovation has been the development of browser-based user interfaces for the system. These user interfaces can be used either as a stand-alone HMI or in conjunction with a DCS HMI, where they can supplement existing operator displays. Latest web technologies such as HTML5 and Node.js are used to deliver web displays that combine real time data and history trends as well as alarm data.

Another new development is the use of automatically generated OPC UA enabled simulator displays. The displays fetch data from the NAPCON Simulator via OPC UA, while providing the look and feel of the simulated system. Using OPC UA communications and code generation allows cost-efficient upkeep of a huge number of simulation displays that are used for plant operator training.

Operators at work

Prosys OPC provides us with flexible, highly productive expert resources. They have innovative ideas, top technical skills and the required understanding of our application area – the company has proven to be an added-value partner in our systems development.

Andreas Frejborg
Manager, Industrial ICT, Neste

Training Simulator System Enhanced with OPC UA Integration


Neste wanted to expand its NAPCON® Simulator – training simulator system with hard control and alarm switches. NAPCON® Informer process database features full OPC UA capabilities, so OPC UA was a natural choice for the integration of the switches into the system. OPC UA guarantees reliable data communication and easy connectivity, as well as supports future expansions to the system.

Simulator room switch integration

Prosys OPC provided the system as a turnkey solution, including everything from configuring and installing the Beckhoff embedded PC/PLCs on-site to developing the software for the project. First a prototype of the software and hardware was provided, and when it was found functional, the installation of the full system commenced. The project utilized agile methods and close co-operation in creating the system according to the final requirements of Neste.

OPC UA integration for the system was implemented using Beckhoff PC/PLC hardware and TwinCAT PLC programming environment according to the specifications of Neste, including an embedded OPC UA server for connectivity. It was possible to use the off-the-shelf Beckhoff OPC UA server for accessing the system, minimizing the configuration work for the project. The OPC UA server enabled Neste to access and control switches easily, creating the needed functionality for the simulator room.

Napcon chart

Prosys OPC showed flexibility and expert attitude throughout the project. The system and resources were provided as requested.

Jyri Lindholm
Head of Automation Technology, Neste

About Neste Jacobs

Neste Jacobs is a preferred solution provider of high-quality technology, engineering and project services for a wide range of industries in the oil and gas, petrochemicals, chemicals and biotechnology fields. We have more than 50 years of experience in technology development and industrial investment projects as well as maintenance and performance improvement in Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East. In addition to the Nordic countries we are looking to grow in the expanding markets of the Middle East and Russia in particular. We employ more than 1000 professionals globally.

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