UNICOS (UNified Industrial Control System) is a CERN-made framework to develop industrial control applications. It deals with the two upper layers of a classical control system: Supervision and Control. UNICOS proposes a method to design and develop the control application which will run in commercial off-the-shelf products (e.g. SCADA and PLCs). The framework employs terminology and models of the ISA-88 standard for batch control systems.
The goal of UNICOS is to standardize the development of control applications at CERN by:

  • Emphasize good practices for both, design and operation, of the continuous process control applications
  • Reduce the cost of automating continuous processes (e.g. cooling, HVAC...)
  • Optimize life-cycle engineering efforts (e.g. using automatic code generation tools)


UNICOS was initially developed in 1998 as a need to develop the LHC cryogenics control system but become a CERN standard de facto when developing industrial control systems. As shown in the next figure, the framework covers the supervision and control layers with commercial components.

UNICOS architecture


Currently UNICOS supported platforms are:


  • Supervision: 
    • WinCC OA (Open Architecture) as a commercial SCADA (formerly called PVSS)
  • Controllers:
    • Siemens: SIMATIC S7-300, S7-400, S7-1500, Industrial PCs (IPCs).
    • Schneider: Premium, Quantum, Modicom series: M340, M580.
    • Codesys: targets IPCs and other PLC models (Schneider M251 using soMachine). 

Alternatively, the application of the UNICOS framework have been extended to applications of monitoring and supervision (e.g. Magnets alignment, Quench protection systems, diagnostics...) where the framework is deployed in the supervision layer independently of what it is installed in the control layer.