Integrated Control System

The Integrated Control System (ICS) for the European Spallation Source is a complex network of hardware, software and configuration databases that integrates the operations of all facility infrastructures. It is based on the EPICS framework.

The control system at ESS is essential for the synchronisation and day-to-day running of all the equipment responsible for the production of neutrons for the experimental programs.

It is a distributed system that is organised in multiple layers. The top layer represents the human machine interfaces and high level applications that connect to the Control Box, the middle layer, running the EPICS control system framework, and to additional services such as the Timing, Machine Protection and archival systems.

The ICS digital controller platform, an in-kind contribution from Switzerland's Paul Scherrer Institute

IOxOS Technologies SA

The ICS project manages the activities involved in the design, construction, installation and commissioning of the ESS Control System.

The “Control Box” is one of the basic technical components around which the Control System is designed. It enables maximum creativity and flexibility for development of electronics and user interfaces, while still providing a firm basis for organisation so that the integration of all devices during installation and commissioning can be efficiently accomplished.

Each Control Box instance runs the EPICS control system framework as well as all necessary services (timing, logging, archiving, alarms, et cetera) that will be required by the full scale Control System.  

Technical Advances
  • The ICS digital controller platform is an in-kind delivery from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. It has now been largely accepted as a high-performance platform for control system applications.
  • A CERN beam interlock system has been set up in the ICS lab for evaluation,
  • The access system for the Personnel Safety Systems has been acquired and installed in the personnel safety lab.
  • Continued successful usage of the ICS configuration software stack has been demonstrated and used in real-world conditions.
  • Contributions to the open-source system for EtherCat motion control have been created and made publicly available. The installation, commissioning and test of the proton source vacuum system was also successfully completed at INFN-Catania.
Machine Protection

ESS is facing high beam availability requirements and is largely relying on custom-made and very specialised and expensive equipment for its operation. Damage to the equipment could cause long shutdown periods, inducing high financial losses and, as a main point, interfering with international scientific research programs relying on ESS operation. Implementing a fit-for-purpose machine protection concept is one of the key challenges in order to mitigate these risks.

High availability is achieved through high system reliability and short preventive and corrective maintenance times. The right strategy to avoid damage leading to long corrective maintenance times involves technical systems, stopping operation to prevent and mitigate damage, and operational and maintenance procedures, acting before damage occurs. With this Machine Protection will be implemented to minimise downtime due to false beam trips, provide optimal support for failure localisation, support all operational modes of the facility, and support operation in degraded mode.

The Machine Protection Strategy needs to reliably:

  • Protect the machine from beam-induced damage, damage due to wrong configuration, or radioactive activation
  • Protect the beam by minimizing the number of false beam trips leading to unnecessary downtime
  • Provide the evidence by providing tools for a consistent and congruent failure tracing throughout the machine 
Personnel Safety Systems

ICS is working with each of the 15 instrument teams to develop Personnel Safety Systems (PSS) meeting the high safety standards of ESS and in accordance with Swedish regulations.

The system will protect ESS users and staff from all manner of harm, including dangers posed by radiation, high voltage, magnetism, moving parts, lasers, and many other risks associated with industrial and scientific workplaces. It includes standards like colour-coded emergency lighting, key exchange protocols, and mechanisms to completely shut down the Accelerator and eliminate the beam in a fraction of a second.

Instrument-specific adaptations to the system must be included in the detailed engineering design of each instrument.

20 In-Kind Work Packages from 11 Institutes in 9 Countries