NorthWestern Energy, one of the largest providers of electricity and natural gas in the upper midwest and northwest has chosen LynxOS from LynuxWorks for its Acceleration Trend Relay (ATR), a system of devices designed to automatically monitor the utility's electricity transmission system and take actions to maintain system stability. NorthWestern Energy selected the LynxOS real-time operating system (RTOS) because it met its stringent reliability requirements and for its support for open standards like POSIX.
While other electricity providers rely on a widespread network of devices that require human monitoring and intervention in case of system instability, NorthWestern Energy's ATR system is always on, monitoring the effects of electrical events on four coal-fired generators in its system. If these effects exceed the limits that have been programmed into the ATR, it then trips breakers to protect the system from instability. The hard real-time environment built into LynxOS ensures that the ATR system will give fast, predictable responses during a set period of time should the fault parameters be exceeded, helping maintain the transmission system without interruption.
"When NorthWestern Energy set out to develop the ATR system, we had two key requirements for an RTOS: It had to be highly reliable, and it had to support open standards. LynxOS clearly met those requirements," said Steve Shannon, senior engineer, NorthWestern Energy. "Our experience with LynxOS has proven its high reliability, and its ability to maintain the integrity of our transmission system even in the most demanding situations helps ensure that our customers do not experience outages. Our ATR system is designed for long-term use, and LynuxWorks' continued adherence to open standard APIs like POSIX helps ensure that we can maintain the system for the long haul."