Case Study

Open & Extensible LabVIEW DDS API

Customer Overview

LocalGrid’s customer, an innovative leader in power conversion and systems architecture of large utility-scale solar PV systems, reduces system costs and increases power production with new inverters and energy harvesting technology. In order for their architecture to be fully optimized, they have to solve the challenging problem of developing a topology based on a modular centralized inverter system that scales from 10MW-100MW in 2.5MW increments using a patented Grid Inverter Package technology.

 

Customer Challenge

  • To effectively optimize a 100MW solar system, the customer must implement a distributed network where a mesh of string optimizers (SPOTs), Grid Inverter Packages, and SCADA components communicate and work in concert with one another. With this architecture they can perform monitoring and analysis of the entire network in real-time, further increasing the effectiveness of the installation.
  • Until now most grid assets (i.e. solar panels, inverters, battery charges, etc.) were designed and developed to perform one action really well and interoperability was not a top priority. Moving forward, it is imperative that systems have reliable and open communications protocols. The customer selected DDS (Data Distribution Service) as the standard communication protocol for the inverters system and required additional DDS expertise beyond what they had available in-house.
  • The customer approached LocalGrid to develop an API (Application Programming Interface) to work with National Instruments CompactRIO hardware and the LabVIEW software environment.

 

LocalGrid Solution

  • LocalGrid provided a flexible and extensible solution that would allow the customer to maintain and further develop the software as their needs evolved. LocalGrid provided an open and maintainable packaged LabVIEW DDS API, based on RTI’s Connext DDS toolkit, with source code and documentation for modifying and maintaining the code case.
  • The project development time and risk was greatly reduced by having LocalGrid develop the solution, leveraging our extensive DDS expertise and enabling the customer to meet internal deadlines. LocalGrid’s solution was delivered within 2 months of the initial request.
  • LocalGrid’s extensive experience working with National Instrument’s CompactRIO hardware platform, the LabVIEW software environment and RTI’s Connext DDS meant we had all the experience needed to deliver a high quality solution, faster and at a lower cost than developing the solution in house.
  • Utilizing a fully tested solution that could be integrated into their existing development seamlessly, LocalGrid’s expertise accelerated the customer’s time to market.

 

Conclusion

LocalGrid’s expertise developing embedded systems and experience with DDS, combined with a long history of delivering solutions using National Instrument’s CompactRIO allowed for the rapid customization of a DDS API ready for deployment that performed reliably and in a deterministic manner. LocalGrid provided the customer with reliable communications, command-response times, and the ability to work with significantly more data from the system.

Customer Testimonial

“We were able to build and deploy the LabVIEW DDS API from source and have tagged out our first lab release. Thanks in part to LocalGrid we are able to collect an order of magnitude more data from our system under test.”

Principal Software Engineer, Customer