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Axon IT infrastructure lessens power cut risks

For immediate release – 4 June 2002

New Axon IT infrastructure lessens power cut risks for Genesis Power

Axon has completed a major IT infrastructure upgrade for Genesis Power, designed to reduce the risk of power outages in Auckland and the North Island.

Genesis Power operates hydro stations at Tokaanu and Waikaremoana. The stations with combined output of 400MW are important to the reliable supply of power to the central North Island and the industrial and business sectors of the Waikato and East Coast region. Outages are most likely to occur when electricity demand peaks in winter, or when hydro lake levels are extremely low.
Genesis’ Huntly Power Station is New Zealand's largest thermal power station, producing 1000MW and using gas and/or coal, and is important to the reliable supply of power to the upper North Island and the industrial and business sectors of the greater Auckland area.

Axon’s upgrade of the Wide Area Network (WAN) joining the production units – which includes the plants’ control and instrumentation network - will lessen the possibility of power outages by providing more reliable control and management of the plants, says Michael Campbell, Genesis Power’s Assets Manager for Generation.

“A reliable and robust production control network is key to the management of our stations," he says. “The infrastructure upgrade represents a significant investment by Genesis Power in safeguarding its ability to meet data transmission requirements.”

Axon’s team worked with the Genesis team to develop and implement a system that has ‘no single point of failure’, says Axon Director Grant Olliff.

“If, for example, a digger cuts one of the Telecom cables used in the network, the redundant links and automatic fail-over technology will ensure seamless operation for the plant management teams," Grant Olliff says.

Axon configured, enabled and tested the network upgrade on Huntly's Business and Control networks.

“We achieved complete recovery after five to ten seconds following a series of system failure scenarios,” says Grant Olliff. System recovery requires no human interaction, which is important for remote unmanned power stations.

Upgrading security was also part of the Axon brief. Genesis required tight security access between business and control networks, to ensure that business data traffic never impacts the production network. Security between 3rd party business partner networks and the control network has also been boosted.

Technical specifications

Core network
The core network consists of two WAN links to the rest of the Genesis networks, two routers and two high-end switches. A business router connects to the WAN via an existing frame relay connection, providing connectivity to the rest of the Genesis destinations for both business and control network staff.

Control router (second router) has a stand-by 1Meg DDS circuit configured
to fail-over in case of frame relay circuit failure. Routers are running Cisco HSRP (hot standby routing protocol), protecting both networks against a router failure.
Axon configured VLAN (Virtual LAN) load balancing to split layer two business and
control traffic, ensuring both routers are used equally. Multi Layer Switching is now available for control data, which speeds up Layer 3 communication between control network VLANs.

Being a multi-site environment, the accent has been put on WAN as well as LAN and application redundancy. Production systems running on remote sites require constant connectivity to the main site at Tokaanu to which they push data in real-time Operational and maintenance data

WAN connectivity has been provided over dual Digital Microwave Radio links installed at each site. Stand-by routing protocol is providing for router and Layer 3 connectivity redundancy on all sites combined with Layer 2 switch redundancy. Active and stand-by servers connect to Layer 2 fabric over dual redundant links, giving the whole system a combination of multi-point and mesh connectivity.

About Axon
Axon is a New Zealand IT solutions and services company, with strong employee ownership. National consulting and service teams work from offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

Axon wins and retains customers based on its track record of delivering smart, practical and economical IT solutions – resulting in measurable business improvement. Customers include many of New Zealand’s leading medium-to-large enterprises including Genesis Power, Foodstuffs, Tower, PDL Industries, BMW, ASB Bank, and the Crown Law Office.

Axon’s business teams are organised in support of the company’s ‘support and drive’ philosophy.

Supporting business involves improving return on technology investments: reducing cost, increasing reliability and reducing management overhead. Capabilities include IT procurement, sophisticated onsite and outsourced service, system and network management and optimisation, and a broad range of consulting services aimed at increasing efficiency, productivity and cost saving.

Driving business involves solutions designed to help customers increase revenue, increase market share, increase customer service, or increase differentiation. Capabilities include web procurement, website content management, and products and consulting services that enable collaborative business over the web.

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