Simulating life under the seaAustralia’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.”Craig Humphrey, SeaSim Precinct Operations Manager