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On the trail of the Big Bang at CERN

Backing up and monitoring of Industrial control system programs for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN near Geneva, the world´s largest particle accelerator, has been entrusted to the version control software from AUVESY-MDT. The European Organization for Nuclear Research uses the system to manage the data of around 500 components, making it one of CERN's standard technologies.

Monitoring and quality assurance at CERN

Initial Situation

Founded in 1954 in Meyrin near Geneva, CERN is a major research facility for fundamental physics. With 22 member states and a budget exceeding 1 billion euros, approximately 11,000 scientists conduct research into the structure of matter and the elementary particles of the universe. The largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is located an impressive 100 meters below the surface.

The control systems at CERN, particularly those from Siemens (SIMATIC S7, TIA Portal, WinCC flexible) and Schneider Electric (Unity Pro), play a crucial role. They not only manage the LHC, but also control auxiliary and utility facilities such as cryogenics, refrigeration, air conditioning and electricity. Of particular importance is cryogenics, which keeps the LHC's magnets at a temperature of 1.9 Kelvin.

The goal of implementing version control software was to standardize the processes for controlling the facilities. Previously, program changes were not transparent and there was no central management system. The goal was to unify the management of different program versions and, most importantly, to centralize their backup.

The Solution

The introduction of version control software at CERN created a central project archive for the control systems from Siemens (SIMATIC S7, TIA Portal, WinCC flexible) and Schneider Electric (Unity Pro). The AUVESY-MDT software was implemented to manage and centrally backup the different program versions. Jerónimo Ortolá Vidal, Automation Engineer of the Industrial Controls and Safety Systems Group at CERN, emphasizes that the software has reached a new, higher level in terms of security and quality of data availability. The software provides a transparent overview of all PLCs, HMIs and changes to the control systems, leading to improved coordination and traceability of program changes.

In CERN's auxiliary and utility facilities, especially in cryogenics, program changes were not transparent before the introduction of AUVESY-MDT software. The version control software allows changes to be recorded, documented and stored centrally, regardless of time and place. At CERN, 10 teams are already using the software to manage about 500 control systems, with the goal of integrating up to 1,500 components.

Logo Cern weiß

We have made significant gains in certainty and quality when it comes to data availability in areas where many programmable logic controllers are in use. Implementing the version control software from AUVESY-MDT has put us on a new quality level.

Jerónimo Ortolá Vidal, Automation engineer at the Industrial Controls and Safety systems Group of the Beams Department at CERN
versiondog in use at the biggest particle accelerator in the world at CERN

The Result

The implementation of the AUVESY-MDT software has significantly improved the work processes and the quality of the control system management at CERN. Especially in the auxiliary and utility facilities, such as cryogenics, constant adjustments are made to the control systems. Before using AUVESY-MDT software, these changes were opaque and difficult to track. Now, changes are captured, documented and stored centrally, regardless of location or time.

Centralized data storage ensures that the current and approved program version is always used. This not only improves security and data availability, but also reduces program errors through effective customization. In the event of a system failure, the latest version is immediately available.

Regular online-offline synchronization prevents unnoticed changes and notifies the administrator of inconsistencies via e-mail. The software ensures a high level of process transparency, allowing those responsible to understand and, if necessary, reverse interventions. All data is backed up weekly for additional security and data protection.

Overall, the AUVESY-MDT software has contributed to a qualitative improvement and standardization of work at CERN. It enables efficient management of control systems, minimizes potential risks and contributes to smooth and high quality research at CERN.

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