“Frontier Driller” Offshore Oil Rig 10 DC Drive Bays, 4 Generator Control Bays and much more…

Frontier Drilling DC (SCR) Drive Control Panel.

Each drive (SCR) bay control panel has a PLC mounted in the lower left. (View of inside of top front doors)

The name of the vessel is the Frontier Driller. It is an older rig that is being completely re-furbished with new equipment. Joliet Technologies is responsible for the DC Drives, Generator Controls, Switchgear, MCC’s (Motor Control Centers), PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controls), Transformers, Driller’s Console and Mud Pump Console.

SCR drives

There are ten (10) SCR drive bays with two SCR drives per bay for a total of twenty (20) Siemens SIMOREG 6RA70 DC SCR Drives distributed equally with five SCR bays on either side of the generator supply in the main bus. Overview of the SCR drives with assignable motors.

Even though each SCR can be assigned to multiple motors, each SCR shall only be assigned to one of its associated motors at a time. That is to say, if SCR 2A was assigned to power the anchor handling motor 1 then PLC logic interlocks shall prohibit it from also being assigned to power the Mud Pump 1 motors. PLC logic interlocks shall also prohibit any one motor from being assigned by two different SCR drives. For example, if SCR 2 was assigned to power anchor handling 1 motor, then SCR 9 shall not be able to power this motor.

Allen-Bradley Flex I / O PLC.

Allen-Bradley Flex-I/O PLC.

The SCR Drive Assignment Contactors are fitted in the armature and are actuated by Allen Bradley PLC logic; through Allen Bradley flex I/O located in the SCR drive bay. The flex I/O communicates through a dual loop Profibus configuration to a processor for the first five SCR bays and a second matching configures for the next five SCR bays. The assignment configuration is such that any motor is assignable in three locations with any motor capable of assigning to the first five SCR bay or the second set of five SCR bays.

Each drive can support 4 different motor parameter sets. All the SCR Drives on the Frontier Driller shall be configured accordingly to the motors that they will support.

This architecture offers flexibility and reliability through redundancy in case of SCR drive failure. Should such an event occur the operator simply turns off the motor on the faulted SCR drive and turns back on allowing the PLC to assign to the next available SCR drive. Each motor is assignable to three different SCR drives with a total of twenty (20) SCR drives in the system.


The SCR Drives are controlled from consoles via profibus loop circuit to the dual redundant Logix 5561 CPU Allen Bradley PLC system. Overview of the SCR distribution with SCR PLC.

By use of the dual 5561 Allen Bradley processor (CPU) in the PLC system either processor can fail with no loss of operation. Communications to the drives is done by Profibus loop directly to the Siemens 6RA70 and flex I/0 locate each SCR bay. The flex I/O receives input and from devices outside the drive such as armature contactor feedback, drive cooling fan overload, circuit breaker status and the OFF/DRILL/MARINE selector switch. The flex I/0 receives output commands outside of the 6RA70 control for contactor assignments. The Siemens 6RA70 SCR drive sends and receives data as per the supplied manual, which controls operation of the motor and gathers operating information for logic control. All control signals from SCR to PLC shall be communicated through PROFIBUS DP field bus protocol, with the exception of the Emergency Stops, which shall be hardwired directly to the SCR Drive breaker for safety.

Signals exchanged between an SCR and its respective PLC are the same for each SCR. Apart from standard control/status signals, signals related to assignment and power management need to be exchanged.

This architecture offers flexibility and reliability through redundancy in case of PLC or communication failure. Should such an event occur, the communication cable could with stand one break in any loop and complete failure of either PLC1-A or PLC1-B with no loss of operation.

Communication network

There is a PROFIBUS DP communication network for each SCR drive to the two PLC racks located in the generator cubicles. Each network is completely independent from the other with communications that are loop and able to be controlled by either CPU. The PLC racks located in the Driller’s Console and in the Mud Pump Console are networked by Ethernet Fiber optic loop to a MOXA module to convert the fiber signal. The two screens in the driller’s console are networked on this same loop with both screens able to display the same screens and status. There are two more MOXA modules connected in the same loop to supply data to the two workstations to enable data collection and trouble shooting of the complete system. There are two more MOXA modules on the same loop connected to PLC3A and PLC3B in the field supply cabinets, which in turn are connected to all the MCC, by Profibus fiber optic loop for control and status of all the required motor starters. Overview of the SCR PLC PROFIBUS DP and Ethernet communication network.

The PROFIBUS DP network in this application is based on 3 different mediums and topologies. A standard bus or line topology network with standard PROFIBUS DP RS-485 cable is established between an SCR PLC and its respective SCR drives. Each SCR is fitted with a CBP2 PROFIBUS communication board. Each one has its own address to differentiate between the various SCR Drives on the network. A redundant optical ring topology is established between all PLC racks via MOXA hub modules to form the Ethernet network. The third communication loop is Profibus fiber optic to all the Hirschmann Hub modules in the MCCs and the same type loop collecting data from the generator controls. MOXA modules and Hirschmann hub modules convert electrical signals to optical signals.

As of July 2007 we have completed the manufacturing portion of this project and have started testing the communications of the 5 remaining SCR Drive bays along with the Generator bays, Driller’s Console, Mud Pump Console & SCADA System. We have already shiped 5 DC drive bays and 1 of the 2 Isolation Switch bays and will ship the remaining equipment after completion of testing and DNV approvals.

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are widely used in the oil drilling industry to control and monitor drilling equipment. PLCs are computerized control systems that use a combination of hardware and software to automate industrial processes.

In the oil drilling industry, PLCs are used to control a range of equipment, including drilling rigs, mud pumps, and drawworks. They provide precise control over the speed and torque of electric motors, as well as monitoring systems that detect any issues with the equipment.

PLCs are popular in the oil drilling industry because they offer several key advantages.

Firstly, they are highly reliable, with robust hardware components and software that is designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions.

Secondly, they provide precise control over the equipment, enabling operators to adjust the speed and torque of electric motors to match the specific requirements of the drilling operation. This can help to improve drilling efficiency and reduce equipment wear and tear.

Thirdly, PLCs can be easily programmed and reprogrammed to adapt to changing drilling conditions or equipment requirements. This flexibility is important in the oil drilling industry, where drilling conditions can vary widely from one well to another.

Finally, PLCs can be integrated with other control systems, such as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, to provide a comprehensive view of the drilling operation. This can help operators to identify and resolve any issues with the equipment quickly and efficiently.

PLCs play a critical role in the oil drilling industry by providing precise control and monitoring of drilling equipment. Their reliability, flexibility, and integration capabilities make them an essential tool for improving drilling efficiency and reducing equipment downtime.

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