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1997-12-03 17:10:25


Y2K Project Manager Warns: The Embedded Chip Problem Is Real


This posting on Peter de Jager's forum is important. I'll post it under "Noncompliant Chips," too.

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From: Date: Thu, 06 Nov 97 17:40:01 +0800 To: Subject: Re: Sightings: embedded systems

Oh dear!!

Automated systems are indeed widespread throughout power utilities. Exposure to the industry would in my opinion rate as extreme. At Western Power, our IT compliance project (cost around $3 million and employing 35 Full time employees) is trivial in comparison to the issues we face on the control and embedded systems front.

Just leaving aside the problems associated with ensuring supply of such items such as fuel, from the weighbridges and conveyor systems through to intelligent metering and meter reading systems dates are endemic.

Many of the control systems represented in power systems, have dates associated with them. These could be reclosers, Voltage regulators, Governors, PLCs etc. The list is endless. You then have a swathe of actual 'applications' involved in the delivery of electicity such as your Distributed Control Systems and your SCADA (System Control and DATA (eg.dates) Acquisition) systems, all of which have dates associated with them. Much of what happens throughout the process of generating and delivering electricity is 'DATE AND TIME STAMPED'.

A typical DCS at a power station will have many thousands of processors associated with it. ANy one prepared to give me a guarantee that my DCS wont experience a date problem?? (I can't even get the manufacturer to give me this). Anyone prepared to run a Power Station when the DCS is throwing alarms up at you that indicates its getting no reading or a peculiar reading either from a device it is monitoring or one of its front end processors ??

But this represents just a portion of your problems. You will also need to address your security systems, your alarm systems (fire, temperature, etc.) your environmental systems - what do you do with your waste water, your emissions etc. ?? How do you monitor these and what control systems do you have in place? After all, your management (if you are managing) must know how much and over what TIME period things are occurring. Your employee protection systems - would your power station staff be happy running your power station for you when they know if they hit a panic button nothing s likely to happen ??

Any suggestion that power systems don't use dates or could not be affected by the Year 2000 problem is at best ill-informed.

But then, if this is a diirect quote from John Greer he did say they are not interested in what 'Day of the Year it is'. Strictly a power system is not interested in whether it's Monday or a Tuesday for it to operate correctly, the operators may well be (dates and times are important for us even at a metering level) but it will almost certainly have dates.

John Catterall Western Power - Year 2000 Project Manager (Note:these represent my views only and do not necessarily represent the views of my company). All usual disclaimers!!

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