"Time" ("Vremya") newspaper,
No. 113(14638) of October 7, 1999

As strange as it is

It is a known fact that in the times of the Soviet Unit they did not give due attention to development of complicated technological process control systems. The mistake was understood too late. It was the explosion that tore away the roof from Chernobyl NPP Unit 4 building that made them to realize that.

In all fairness the total number of experts in control system development found across the world is a rather restricted one. At the moment there are approximately one hundred experts of the kind in Ukraine. The majority of them are staying with the Ukrainian American Consortium named as Westron. Westron was established by the Westinghouse Corporation (USA) and Hartron Co (Kharkov, Ukraine). The principal task set forth to Westron was reconstruction of Instrumentation & Control Systems at the Ukrainian nuclear power plants. The principal investment done by Westinghouse into the newly established joint venture was the up-to-date technologies transferred to Westron under a License Agreement. The highly trained specialists who made the Westron's staff was the intellectual property invested into the JV by the Kharkovites. Another investment done into the JV by Hartron Co was its productive potential. In that exact case the value of the intellectual property invested by Hartron was undoubtedly a high one: the best engineers of Hartron , who earlier proved their high level proficiency when engaged in development of a most complicated control systems purposed for missiles, staffed the JV. It took them quite a short period of time to shift to the new line of activities, to start to solve new problems. A number of the Westron workers underwent training in the USA. Now they generate original technical ideas in provision of achieving the objects being faced nowadays. Not but once Yackov Aizenberg, the Hartron Co Director General, expressed his pride of the former colleagues.

After the period of 5 years of its existence Westron has become one of the biggest enterprise of Ukraine that designs, manufactures and implements the control systems purposed both for nuclear power plants and steam electric stations, also control systems purposed for various branches of industry. Only in the year 1998 the ConsortiumWestron delivered its control systems to the South-Ukraine NPP, the Zaporozhiye NPP, the Khmelnitsk NPP, the Chernobyl NPP. The very word "delivery" sounds as quite a simple thing but in real it means a large scope of the activities required to be done, exactly: the very first thing is to invent a control system, then go such things as design process, manufacture, tests, installation... Gradually the volume of sellings grew up to quite a round figure, that is to $1 million. The figure should be recognized as quite a good one if we take into account the quantity of the Westron labor force. All seems to be good but...

The problem of getting payments in cash for the works done by Westron remains to be one of a few problems thus far have not been solved. Nevertheless for Westron this exact problem has long ago become the key one. Westron has got to to pay in hard currency for completing parts purchased for the hardware manufactured. All accounts with the State are also done in cash (this is to be done immediately after a Statement on Site Acceptance Tests is signed). But the Westron's Customers do their payments to the JV not in real money but in certain amounts of electrical energy assigned for selling by Westron, that is in so-called virtual money. But it has already been proved by practice that it is next to impossible to convert the "electrobills" (the issued by the Ukrainian NPPs securities backed by the electric energy generated by NPPs) Westron gets from its Customers into cash. Also, it would be quite an impossible thing to try to pay the Westron workers not in bank-notes but in "electrobills". It is exclusively due to the American side of the JV that Westron managed to survive and reach the age of 5 years. Thanks to Westinghouse the Consortium Westron was recognized to be winner in some international tenders and then was paid in real money for the activities performed under concluded Contracts. Another thing that the monies thus earned by Westron were immediately taken from it to the Ukrainian State Budget.

According to Michael Chernyshov, the Consortium Westron Director General, "development and manufacture of Safety Parameter Display System (SPDS) purposed to be installed in nuclear power plants is one of the Westron's big achievements. To put it simply, existing control systems are of various kinds and purposes. The more process points are covered by control the more complicated is a control system. The control systems developed by Westron could be defined as super-complicated ones. The Westron control system is built of dozens and dozens of cabinets filled with up-to-date electronics and is capable to exercise control over dozens of thousands of technological process points. By the way, it would be a hard thing for us to manufacture the control system's equipment if we were not helped in this by our Ukrainian partners (some enterprises of Kharkov are among them). Also, it would be a true thing to say that all the tasks that had ever been set forth to us were far from being easy ones".

Author: A.Matveyev

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