How does ingenuity protect tropical marine ecosystems?
Equipped with automation and drive technology from Siemens, Australia’s National Sea Simulator is a world-class marine research facility.
Simulating life under the sea
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is an underwater world of spectacular natural beauty – home to thousands of species of marine plants and animals, a tropical ecosystem unlike any other in the world. At the same time, the world’s largest coral reef is also a multi-billion-dollar economic resource, supporting some 70,000 jobs.
Despite its size, the Great Barrier Reef is a fragile ecosystem under threat from both natural forces and human activity. Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) are closely studying the effects of climate change, coral bleaching, pest management and pollution, in a world-class marine research aquarium facility called the National Sea Simulator (SeaSim). With the help of Siemens’ innovation, this unique facility allows scientists to carry out ground-breaking research never before possible in Australia.
“SeaSim is the most spectacular of our infrastructure developments,” says AIMS research director David Souter. “The Siemens technology underpins all the monitoring systems within SeaSim. We are able to look at multiple environmental parameters that affect marine organisms. This is the first time we’ve been able to do that.”
The SeaSim project required a complete plant/process automation system to run high-quality marine experiments. After looking at various options, AIMS appointed Siemens solution partner SAGE Automation to develop the SeaSim control system based on a Siemens Simatic PCS 7 package, due to this system's impressive track record of industrial applications. PCS 7 also integrates a number of package units for individual experiments, automated with Simatic S7-1200/1500 controllers. It provides AIMS research teams with absolute control over temperature, acidity, salinity, sedimentation and contaminants in the large seawater tanks. High availability, reliability and scalability are essential features to conduct multiple experiments simultaneously – some of which will run for years. It’s a great example of non-traditional application of industrial technology.
Through the unprecedented level of control we now have thanks to the Siemens control system, we are now able to undertake experiments we could only dream of in the past.”
Australia's National Sea Simulator ...
... or SeaSim for short, is a facility for large-scale, long-term experiments on tropical marine environments.
The ocean under the microscope
In the face of climate change, coral bleaching and numerous other threats to the reef's survival, Siemens technology enables researchers to study the ocean in ways never before possible in Australia.
Simatic PCS 7 is capable of highly accurate measurement and control of critical variables, as well as long-term data logging and reporting involving large volumes of data.
Some experiments take years to complete. Researchers need to add or remove other experiments without taking control systems offline for modifications.
The precise controls and the data they provide help researchers to study marine environments and enhance Australia's scientific reputation.
The facility has over 28 kilometres of pipeworks and more than 140 pumps. At full capacity, around 3 million litres of filtered seawater can be pumped per day.
Industrial technology furthering science
Using multiple Siemens components in one package significantly reduces engineering time and greatly increases data availability – including diagnostic and maintenance information.