Renewing the Process Control Extends the Lifespan of a Particle Accelerator

The nearly 30-year-old control system of the particle accelerator in the University of Jyväskylä was in need of renewal to support the future needs of the facility, and Rockwell Automation from Klinkmann was chosen as a partner for this exceptionally extensive project.
University of Jyväskylä

Jyväskylä University's Department of Physics operates one of Europe's largest particle accelerator laboratories. The nearly 30-year-old control system of the particle accelerator was needed to be renewed, and Rockwell Automation from Klinkmann was selected as a partner. The complex project, containing nearly 2000 I/O points, was completed in early summer 2020. 

Jyväskylä University's particle accelerator laboratory is one of the most significant research facilities in Europe. It is used not only by the university's own researchers but also by industries and organizations like the European Space Agency (ESA), which tests components intended for space missions at the laboratory. The laboratory was originally built in the city center in the 1970s. In the early 1990s, a new campus was completed in Ylistönrinne, where the particle accelerator laboratory gained new facilities. 

"This laboratory is already 30 years old, but it still has a long and significant future ahead. That's why we wanted to renew the system," explains the laboratory's director, Paul Greenlees, outlining the background of the project.


Continuous operation 24 Hours a Day 

"We operate all year round. There are very few interruptions, and there shouldn't be, because any downtime immediately means a slowdown in research and, consequently, financial losses," says Markus Liimatainen, the application designer for the particle accelerator laboratory. 

"All maintenance operations must be scheduled during shower changes, but fortunately, there haven't been many. Reliability was one of our criteria when choosing the control system provider," Liimatainen reflects. 

Today, the over 30-year-old equipment has been updated with a new process control system supplied by Klinkmann from Rockwell Automation. 

"We were looking for a reliable, easily maintainable system to avoid problems with the accelerator's tight schedules," says laboratory engineer Kalle Salminen.


Availability Issues with Spare Parts Behind the Renewal 

"The old system was reaching the end of its service life, and spare parts availability was becoming challenging. We even had to use recycled parts from old factories," recalls Liimatainen. 

Klinkmann participated in a public tender and emerged as the winner based not only on the lower price but also on the quality requirements and the comprehensive maintenance agreement. 

"The system was really challenging and multifaceted, including, for example, 18 distribution stations with a total of about 2000 I/O points," summarizes Liimatainen.


A Five-Year Project 

The commissioning of the equipment had to be done in small parts because the entire operation of the facility could not be stopped. Each part out of operation was replaced with a new one. The entire system was built alongside the old one so that the final transition from old to new could be made at once during a planned three-month downtime. 

"In 2016, Klinkmann delivered the first Allen-Bradley DCS system's process and distribution stations to our premises, and the final controls were transferred in early summer 2020. That's when we were able to completely remove the old hardware," Liimatainen recalls.


Well-Planned Package and Flexible Collaboration 

Klinkmann's delivery included almost everything related to automation needs, from I/O cards to pre-equipped cabinets, servers, operating terminals, and licenses. Additionally, the package included training organized by Klinkmann, with the first part held in their own training facilities and the second at the particle accelerator laboratory.

 "One of the best aspects of the new system is its flexibility in interface design. It came with templates for the interfaces, but they can be customized almost endlessly," praises Liimatainen. 

"We have such an unusual system that we have to turn on the safety system when normally it's turned off. We've made such small adjustments," adds Salminen. 

Both Liimatainen and Salminen commend Klinkmann for the project's execution. 

"Klinkmann can definitely be recommended to companies planning to renew the entire system or its parts," summarizes Liimatainen. 

"Collaboration with Klinkmann has been very flexible. Together, we have solved problems so that both parties have reached good conclusions on the issues," Salminen concludes.

Klinkmann can definitely be recommended to companies planning to renew the entire system or its parts.

Markus Liimatainen

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