Inavation Awards: Exploring the 2021 Control Room category winner

A digitisation project encompassing three control rooms that manage a vital part of Greece’s energy infrastructure saw Telmaco install 72 80-in Barco DLP cubes, and pick up an Inavation Award along the way.

There are few projects that demand so much from AV as control rooms; the quality and reliability of visual technologies installed in these projects are often directly linked to ensuring the safety of people and critical infrastructure. What’s more, AV technologies have the ability to streamline processes, making control room operators more efficient and effective with knock-on effects that have enormous impacts in the real world.

So when Athens-based integrator Telmaco took on a major project for Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator (IPTO), it was committing to ensuring robust, reliable and high quality visual systems to support a vital aspect of Greece’s infrastructure. It didn’t disappoint. The resulting installation saw it modernise three large control room spaces and pick up a 2021 Inavation Project Award for Best Control Room in the process.

IPTO is responsible for operation, monitoring, control, maintenance and development of the Hellenic Electricity Transmission System and must ensure an adequate, safe, efficient and reliable supply of electricity for the country.

Telmaco answered a public tender and was drafted in to replace traditional mimic boards (also known as mosaic walls), which had operated since 1993, with modern videowalls, supplying IPTO with the facilities to monitor the electricity system in a modern and efficient manner. The installation spanned three control centres: The National Control Room and South Region Control Room in Kryoneri, and the North Region Control Room in Ptolemais. The scope of the integrator’s work covered complete renovations; from removal of old kit and installation of new furniture, ceiling, lighting and air conditioning.

Takis Zoitos, IPTO’s director of Branch of Infrastructure for Department of Systems and Infrastructure, says: “The mimic boards were very difficult to work with and they were really heavy. Throughout the time they were operating we also had to build many new substations, particularly renewable substations. We needed a lot of resources to add these into the mimic board display. It was also very difficult to find replacement parts.

“We wanted to go with a modern and stable technology,” he adds. “We considered a number of contractors and different technologies but it was a very complex project, spanning air conditioning, lighting and construction as well as the videowalls so it had to be a large company that could deliver this.”

A range of factors went into appointing Telmaco to the project but Zoitos notes when the project award was made they were comfortable working with the integrator and Barco technology as IPTO has had Barco videowalls operating successfully for 15 years at another site.

Staff at IPTO monitor and control the electricity systems continuously and in real-time. Any interruption in their ability to do this can impact on the electricity supply in Greece so redundancy and reliability was paramount.

The planning process was meticulous and painstaking; Telmaco submitted 115 drawings including AV schematics, architectural drawings, electrical drawings, construction details and more.

Downtime wasn’t an option and to ensure a smooth transition from the old system to the new system, the project was implemented in three phases starting with the South Region Control centre, moving to the National facility and finally renovating the North Region space. Before embarking on upgrades at each site, a temporary system was put in place to allow the operators to work without interruption.

It's hard to underestimate just how much of a jump it is to go from the mimic boards to the new system and operators were understandably wary given the critical nature of their jobs. “That’s why they wanted to have the backup system first before we started work and they would only let us start the second room when the first one had been accepted,” says Vassilis Kyriazis COO of Telmaco’s AV division.

When sites were demolished all parts were sent for recycling. Reconstruction started with the air conditioning system. In an indication of just how precise the videowall construction had to be, the Barco rear-projection units were stored in the rooms a few days prior to installation to avoid minor changes in size due to temperature and humidity changes.

The control room technology deployed across the three sites was largely the same and at each Telmaco had to integrate its systems into a Siemens SCADA system. The buildings were all purpose-built in the 1990s and each measures 20m (w) x 10m (d) x 5m (h) and include visitor galleries.

Each display comprised 24 80-in Barco OVL DLP LED videowall modules in an eight-by-three formation. Telmaco fixed the cubes with an 8-degree curve between each one. The result was three videowalls measuring 12.8m x 3.6m and delivering 60 megapixels in total.

Videowall controllers, based on Barco’s NSD 410, and servers were installed in separate control rooms. The controllers were set up in a fully redundant configuration with dual redundant Barco CMS servers. All components support main and backup network infrastructure. Controllers are monitored by a tool that activates the backup controller or server in case of failure. OpenText Exceed software is installed in the controllers to allow visualisation of X-Windows software such as the Siemens SCADA.

Kyriazis says the system has a lot of capabilities and IPTO asked for a lot of options and inputs to futureproof the installation, but its biggest current concern was reliability. “The architecture is redundant and was tested when a water leak occurred and the backup controller started automatically,” he adds.

Each control room is supported with auxiliary large displays, installed in adjacent rooms and constructed from 84-in LG 86UH5E panels in two-by-one configuration. 

Knürr Consoles furniture was selected with three Synergy consoles installed per room. A new LED lighting system was also integrated including direct and indirect fixtures from Fiberli.

The resulting installation was finished on time and guarantees maximum uptime and flexible ways to visualise the required information.

“For the size of the project it went smoothly,” says Kyriazis “The good thing is the customer planned it very early and very well.”

“All our objectives were met,” confirms Zoitos. “We’ve modernised, we’ve digitised. The displays are improved and we have unlimited possibilities. The operators have all the necessary information they require and we don’t have to use resources to build the display. We have no requirement for hardware components and everything can be changed within a few minutes instead of days we had before.

“We can also have multiple displays with additional information, for example a display to show the weather forecast. Having this kind of a dynamic display was a big benefit. The display is realtime, we have faster troubleshooting of the systems and we can view them remotely.”

Tech-Spec

Barco OVL-815 80-in videowall modules, CMS servers and NSD 410 videowall controllers
Fiberli LED lighting
Knürr Synergy consoles
LG 86UH5E LCDs