The What, Who, Why and How of SCADA
What is SCADA?
SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. SCADA systems can be used to monitor and control a variety of functions, systems and processes.
A SCADA system includes hardware devices that collect and transfer data and a central database with software that stores, analyzes and reports the data.
A typical SCADA system is built with four components:
Sensors and Control Devices – acquire data from the specific element being monitored and enable control of the associated equipment.
Remote Terminal Units (or RTUs) – collect the data from multiple sensors and transmit to the SCADA master station; they also relay command information back to equipment.
SCADA Master Station – is the main database that serves as the central monitoring and control information repository for data from all RTUs in the network.
SCADA Network – this is the type of communication technology used to connect RTUs, master stations and end users. This can be radio frequency, internet, wireless or a combination of multiple technologies.
Who uses SCADA?
SCADA is used in nearly all industrial, government and public infrastructure to monitor and control critical systems such as energy use, facility security, air quality and much more.
Utility companies and municipalities use SCADA to monitor and regulate functions such as water flow, reservoir levels, water chemistry, and lift stations.
Building and facility managers use SCADA to control sensitive internal environments, HVAC, refrigeration units, electrical power, and building security.
Why use SCADA?
There are several benefits to using a SCADA system:
- SCADA systems help municipalities lower costs by automating many of the tasks that are normally handled manually or by multiple processes.
- The data collected also provides benchmarks and trending information that can help operators plan optimum use of energy and other resources.
- SCADA systems provide early detection of malfunctions to help avoid costly mishaps.
How to choose the right SCADA system?
Choosing a SCADA system can be confusing. There are two main types of systems to choose from: integrated and single source.
An integrated system is generally comprised of several different manufacturers components, assembled in a complex array by a system integrator.
Typically, each manufacturer has different warranties, service support, license fees and generally don’t include upgrades, which lead to future incompatibility among the various components.
This type of system results in higher lifecycle costs due to these added factors.
A single source system uses components from a single manufacturer, and is often mistakenly referred to as “proprietary.”
A “proprietary” system has limited compatibility. But, a single source system such as Dorsett Technologies’ InfoScan, uses open architecture, can be self-programmed, self-maintained and is compatible with other manufacturers’ equipment.
Dorsett Technologies is a single source provider, which simply means; we design, manufacture, test and install all of our components.
We provide lifetime support for our hardware and software so your system will never become obsolete or incompatible – guaranteed. Plus, we use industry standard components, protocols and architecture that seamlessly integrate with existing equipment.
The result – a worry-free system and a much lower lifecycle cost.
What to ask?
When considering a SCADA system, there are many factors that will have a tremendous impact on the long-term viability and cost of your system. Therefore, you should ask these important questions:
- Are there update fees?
- Is support additional?
- Are there additional license fees or training fees?
- Are maintenance contracts required?
- Can I expand the system?
These key factors contribute to the total lifecycle cost and should be included in any system purchase, not just for the first year, but for 5, 10, and 15 years down the road.