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Case Studies

Develop and commission a standardised test system for Greenbank acoustic measurement systems to optimise the use of coal in power stations

Cost savings for the power station include:

  • No lost energy production following installation as no software changes were necessary
  • Increased fuel efficiency due to improved monitoring of fuel flows, thereby optimising and controlling energy production capacity

Benefits for Greenbank include: 

  • No need for engineers to visit the site after commissioning to make software changes 
  • A standardised system which allows more flexibility with staffing rotas supporting the monitoring system 
  • Savings can be replicated for installations at other power stations

Background to the project

The new system was implemented in a Midlands power station in September 2014 and was commissioned in October. Due to the rigorous testing of the system by Argenta, and through their ability to look at the whole project from the user’s point of view, there was no need for any software changes when the new system was implemented. 

Their systems allow power station engineers to optimise the distribution of the fuel supply within a power station. This is achieved by monitoring and understanding the flows of fuel inside the feeder pipes themselves .These pipes are used to transfer coal from the pulveriser mills to the burners. Unique monitoring using electrostatic technology gives better data to engineers so that they can understand both the relative mass flow and velocity of the coal inside the pipe.

Greenbank have their own software engineers responsible for developing their own algorithms and programming. To develop new software they use LabVIEW. Greenbank wanted to improve their internal quality control systems to provide more robust testing of the software they design

Greenbank already follow ISO 9001 processes for software development but wanted further improvements. They wanted to standardise systems and processes so that each customer has a choice from a modular system rather than working on designing a completely new and bespoke system. Argenta was chosen because of their experience with testing, measuring and quality control software systems. Argenta helped Greenbank to standardise their systems in terms of the hardware selected, the interface between the hardware and software and meeting the customer specification more efficiently. The work standardised the aesthetics of the whole monitoring system.


“The use of more Argenta testing of the systems ensured that there were no bugs in the software when it was installed on site. We had made sure that a more rigorous and systematic testing process was used during the design phase.

Greenbank didn’t have to carry out any software modifications to the product at the power station. Argenta systemised the software coding process for testing. This allows Greenbank engineers to follow a standard coding practice and thus more engineers can read, edit and train on the software.

This means Greenbank has more flexibility and capability with engineering support for the end user staffing rotas because they can all access and amend the system. Previously this would have not been possible due to the bespoke nature of the systems developed for each customer.

This is key to the success of the project since Process Engineering is a costly system and keeping the process up and running is essential. With industrial shut downs being rare and to a tight time frame, the changes Argenta have made have allowed Greenbank to react quickly to keep the customer satisfied.”

Neetin Lad,
Contracts Manager of the Systems Division at Greenbank

Solution Overview

The new system was implemented in a Midlands power station in September 2014 and was commissioned in October. Due to the rigorous testing of the system by Argenta, and through their ability to look at the whole project from the user’s point of view, there was no need for any software changes when the new system was implemented.

The Greenbank and Argenta software development teams worked in parallel, allowing Greenbank to concentrate on product development. Argenta could predict possible faults that could arise, simulate situations in which these problems could be detected and add alarm modules to the system. Argenta engineers ensured no random errors occurred resulting in a more robust system. The library of previous customer requests was checked and extra modules added with the aim of reducing the adjustments required at installation, implementation and commissioning stages.

The benefit for Greenbank and for the power station engineers as end users was that there was no need for any additional software changes to the flow monitoring system. The customer specification was met first time. Previously, when a new system is installed the customer typically requests bespoke changes to the software to suit the standards of the power station.

Software changes, due to bespoke user requirements, usually require several days of on-site visits by the Greenbank engineers and can cost up to £2,000 per commission in terms of Greenbank man hours. The extra R&D required on the software to implement the changes may delay the commissioning of the system which can cost the end user thousands of pounds in loss production during a shutdown. These costs were eliminated by using Argenta to integrate the software development and quality control.

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