Who Heals the Doctor? The Story of the Advantages of Intelligent Energy Systems


Today, our life is already impossible to imagine without electricity and electrical drives. High technology manufacturing operates, supercomputers solve millions of tasks with huge speed, and huge cities and tiny towns live and breathe thanks to electricity. The development of power engineering has literally moved so quickly over the last century that we don’t even think about how electrical systems work and what scientific research is guarding this “every day miracle”. We spoke with winner of the “Beginning of Big Science – 2017” contest, associate professor of the Department of Electric Drive and Industrial Automation of the Power Engineering Faculty of SUSU’s Polytechnic InstituteOlesya Gennadievna Brylina about the advantages of intelligent energy systems, specifics of their self-diagnosis, and prospects for their development.

– What did this all begin with? Why did you enroll in the Power Engineering Faculty? After all, this is not a typical choice for a young lady.

– It all happed a little by accident. It was 1999. I was choosing between a few areas of training. I can say that the deciding factor for my choice was the professor of the course Informatics and Microprocessor Systems for Electrical Drive Management, Rustam Zaynageddovich Husainov. In those years, he worked on the admissions board, and was able to convince me that it is interesting to study in the Power Engineering Faculty, but also very difficult! But that was the interesting thing for me! Difficulties only excite me, so, I chose the Power Engineering Faculty.

Like the majority of applicants, I took entrance exams in physics, mathematics, and Russian. I received good marks in the technical disciplines, but I turned out to be weak at Russian. Clearly it was no accident that I had a 4 in my school exams for Russian. But since I graduated from School №23, which works in the experimental field of the linguo-humanitarian lyceum, I had a silver medal – I used the chance to enroll based on the results of an interview. After the encouraging words of Rustam Zaynageddinovich, I didn’t even look at different fields. That’s how I made my life-changing decision to study in the Department of Electric Drive and Industrial Automation and become an engineer.

In those days, the EGE still didn’t exist, you could only submit documents for your interview to only one specialty. I only found out about my successful application in August. The educational process began, and excellent teachers entered my life. Rafaiz Hazeevich Gafiyatulin opened the doors of the department to me, offering practical training in the laboratories. Gennadiy Ivanovich Drachev and Sergey Mihailovich Butakov gave me the chance to do research in adjacent fields rather than complete typical course papers. Moris Vladimirovich Gelman became my mentor for the development of a laboratory complex in electronic engineering and converter equipment… I could add every teacher of our department to this list. They generously share the knowledge of life even today. Thank you to them, and a low bow!

I owe a lot to my scientific advisor and teacher (with a big T) – Leonid Ignatevich Tsytovich. He suggested postgraduate studies and dedicating my life to science. He was the supervisor for my successfully-defended candidate dissertation, and for the doctoral dissertation that I am writing now. Very sadly, in the end of 2016, Leonid Ignatevich passed away. My colleagues and I continue the ideas and scientific work begun by Leonid Ignatevich, at the same time, trying to give him the respect he deserves. He is really a great person!

– Did you dream of dedicating your life to teaching in a university?

– As a child I did have thoughts of becoming a teacher for elementary school age students, but I hardly thought about that seriously at that time. In the end, life itself brought me to the point where I am teaching my favorite subjects, now already in a higher education institution. And I really like that. For example, one of my favorite subjects is the theory of solving tasks for inventions. Many people think that engineering and technical disciplines are difficult and boring. That’s not true. For me, these are the world of constantly seeking unusual engineering solutions!

– Did you maybe have some romantic ideas about the power engineering profession? Or associations with the great constructions of the 20th century, to which power engineers always arrived first. Is it possible that you are continuing this dynasty?

 – In a way yes, because one of my father’s professions is electrician. You could say that I am continuing his path. What is interesting is that I always considered myself someone interested in the humanities before. My teacher for Russian and literature was really surprised when she found out that I ended up in a technical university and in a technical specialty. Under her guidance, I created a research project about the life and creations of Ivan Shmelev, and we even placed in the top three for a region-wide contest. All of my primary and middle school years, I spent time in the theatre. It made me happy to stand on the stage of the doll theatre, show up a few times on the television, and the hall of youth creativity was always like home… So in my youth, I imagined that I would absolutely be somewhere on a stage. It turned out that my stage is now the blackboard!

– How did you choose the topic of your scientific research, which affected all of your life?

– It all began in 2004 with my graduation project. In the beginning, when Leonid Ignatevich Tsytovich told us about the highly dependable, energy efficient systems for managing a group of simultaneously-operating electrical drives, I, honestly, understood very little (smiles – ed. note.).

I learned everything before the exam and wrote it well, but at the exam itself, as fate would happen, I admitted that the main idea of this subject eluded me. Leonid Ignatevich was surprised that it was possible to answer the exam so well, not understanding this subject completely. In the end, the desire to get to the root of this led to me writing my candidate dissertation on this topic, and I’m working on my doctoral dissertation now.

The technical disciplines are really quite difficult, and you begin to really understand things only after having spent quite a lot of time studying them. You could say that I look at many aspects of my own research differently, but I still have to think over some other things. I think that I am still at the very beginning of the endless path of understanding.

– What is the topic of your research?

– Together with Leonid Ignatevich Tsytovich, we began working on the specifics for managing a group of simultaneously-operating electrical drives based on multizone integrated regulators.

Multizone regulators are a relatively new class. This is a development by Leonid Ignatevich Tsytovich. Its significance and the efficiency of its work are proven by many implementations in real industrial businesses, where Tsytovich’s invention is really operating. Many energy engineering colleagues are surprised that such a simple-looking system can offer such impressively good results.

The goal of the project I am working on now is the creation of systems for highly reliable, resource- and energy-saving electrical drives, consisting of a group of simultaneously-operating channels with an integrative, multizone system of control.

The questions solved in this research relate to the priority area of development (PAD) at SUSU in PAD-1, “Energy conservation in the social sphere.”

At the end of this project we plan on creating a smart, resource-saving system for managing electrical drives with parallel regulation channels, especially systems for water supply, with its own reserve system and system for self-diagnostics.

The project will allow us to solve at least two tasks: lower energy costs and increase the reliability of all technological equipment.

– What is the advantage of this system of electrical drives?

– The main advantage of this system of parallel electrical drives is that it is reliable and smart. This means that with the correct settings, it can independently optimize its own work and simultaneously remove a few issues. And all of this is without any additional equipment costs and without additional service personnel. This saves both financial and human resources.

– How does this work in manufacturing?

– The systems for managing a group of simultaneously-operating electrical drives based on multizone, integrated regulators, can be desired both in facilities for utilities and in manufacturing of various types.

Systems used in manufacturing include, for example, electrical drives for water pumps in civil pump stations and residential complexes as well as systems for electrical drives for air-exchange and the removal of smoke, systems for recirculation, thermal systems, and other industrial systems with reserve channels of regulation.

One of the brightest examples, probably, is working with the suggested system for on water supply systems.

As a rule, a system has a pump, it has a line that enables the water flow, and it has one more channel that helps increase pressure (or support it) when the pressure is lowered, or it initiates the reserve system. The reserve channel can be part of the water system for a different residential building, industrial enterprise, or autonomous objects.

The negatives of such systems are often as follows: to guarantee reliable work, it is suggested to run the diagnostics process constantly – that is, output some kind of test signal, and according to this reaction, judge the functionality. In this case, the system of diagnostics itself must have high resolution capacity, excluding the effects of the test signal on the quality of regulation and the technological processes. In such conditions, the diagnostics system is often a fairly complex local computing system, which, at a minimum, is better than analogous indicators of the control system it is controlling in terms of integration of electronic components by an order of magnitude. In the end, the accuracy of diagnosis is questioned justifiably, since they can equally show both the actual state of the control system and be a reason for internal, hidden failures in the system of diagnostics itself. The system, a “doctor”, diagnoses issues, but it can’t guarantee that it itself is working reliably.

Who heals this doctor? The advantage of the system suggested by Leonid Ignatevich Tsytovich is that it does not require entering additional test signals able to negatively affect the work (technological process), diagnosing itself and the control system simultaneously, and, most importantly, it ensures the constant work of the whole system given issues in individual nodes.

– How exactly does this occur?

– Construction-wise, this system is extremely simple, but it has immunity to noise and a few other technical capabilities, which is important for industrial enterprises and autonomous objects. The most important thing is that the system, due to the closed structure and the existence of parallel channels, is able to independently diagnose in which node and in which channel a fault has occurred. Finding a failure, the system automatically switches over to the backup channel. This ensures reliability and quality of the manufacturing process, and it’s possible to significantly save resources.

Simple equipment in large enterprises (even if accounting goes on each minute) can lead to serious losses of time and money. The system proposed by Leonid Ignatevich Tsytovich allows us to avoid this!

For example, in a business, some kind of cooling system or cleaning system has failed that, at first glance, does not even seem to be part of the process. But because of this broken fan, the equipment can overheat, or there can be smoke, and because of this, equipment directly tied to supporting the manufacturing process shuts off, and the breakdown process moves rapidly along the chain.

If you compare this process with the human body, then the situation is something like this: someone pricks their little finger, an infection occurs, and as a result, the whole body suffers. In a technical body, the same thing happens in an analogous situation. There are no unimportant nodes, and everything works for the common good.

– Is it possible to say that digital technology is used for the development of these systems?

– Really, scientific research greatly requires the study and development of algorithms. How they are implemented in life – in digital or analog form – depends on the client’s wishes and the level of knowledge of those who will automate this system in production. In my opinion, any modern technological system is an intelligent combination of both analog and digital elements, taking their characteristics and advantages in to account.

There is one more important moment. Diagnostics in the system requires display and quick transmission of information to the service personnel. If there is an accident somewhere, then the service personnel should know about this as soon as possible to repair this node, and not wait until it “screams” even louder.

This is also digital technology. You could offer, for example, a patented technical solution – single wire transmission line for logistical data based on a multizone regulator. That is, the area of application for multizone regulators is quite varied.

– Where is this version of the system in operation?

– The energy efficient system of controlling a group of simultaneously-operating electrical drives based on multizone integrating regulators is operating successfully at the Chelyabinsk Pipe Factory; it is also equipped in a number of control systems for electrical drives at the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Combine.

For example, the system with self-diagnostics and automatic regulatory reserve channels was installed for the first time in the world at ChTPZ OAO in the system of controlling electrical drives for water pumps for the grand pools of the slag smelting shop and in the air exchange system for the line of plasma cutting for pipes with large diameter of 1020 – 1220 for shop number 6!

The resulting economic effect from implemented control systems is more than a million rubles a year!

The developed and studied structures for control systems are universal for other types of installations with parallel regulation channels and can be used, for example, in regulation for lighting, temperature, and more.

– In 2017 you won the contest The Beginning of Big Science-2017, held as part of SUSU’s execution of the 5-100 Project. This means that financing will be offered for the development of your project. How do you plan on developing the system further? What’s in the near future?

– I have many ideas! For example, there are pilot examples of the system working in some businesses, but there is no mass production yet. We will work on this issue. In addition, today, we are more carefully studying the behavior of the system in the presence of issues or when power is cut. We are doing spectral analysis of the system, and we are studying “marathon” work modes. To improve the quick reaction of the system, we are studying a new range and mode of input signal. Today, the theory of multizone control for simultaneously-operating electrical drives is not yet very popular – it requires more study. This is a complex mechanism, we are working on studying its individual nodes to optimize the system as a whole.

– What stage is the research at now?

– Our research work is separated into a few stages. First of all, the theoretical part. The study of structures, analysis of characteristics given the main destabilizing factors, and during catastrophic failures of the main components of the system. In the next stages are computer modeling, analyses, and prototypes in existing installations completed at the Center for Computer Technologies and Digital Control Systems in Manufacturing laboratory, which operates in our department.

We are planning more detailed, deeper modeling, using the software MatLab+Simulink. Of course, we are also dreaming about experimental versions with the possibility of access to every point and analysis of the system’s work. To analyze the efficiency of the system’s work, we install separate elements in factories, separate “plates”. Of course, during operation, it is categorically forbidden to access them. To see what and how something is developing or adjust something in real, working conditions, unfortunately, is very difficult for us. So many things, in part, are done either intuitively or by taking previous developments into account.

We need a working laboratory prototype of the system, equipped with the optimal number of access points to various nodes – this will allow us to further study and optimize this system. Thanks to the grant, this prototype can become a reality.

In addition, we need a number of stands to improve the system. My colleagues and I have already thought up their instrumentation. We need to purchase them. Also on the agenda is purchasing libraries for the MatLab+Simulink software. This is important for many tasks being solved in many departments – not just our own. At SUSU, the MatLab software is on our supercomputers, but it does not have the SlimPowerSystems library or a number of other libraries that we need for electrotechnical research. We have been working on this issue for a while now, but it’s possible that with this grant we’ll be able to do something. We have big plans for the further improvement of this system and for the development of the department as whole. Now we just need to bring them to life!


Yulia Rudneva; photo by Oleg Igoshin
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