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Knowing SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)

The SCADA system is a computer application that is used to monitor and control a plant or equipment located at a long distance. Because of its unique software application, which is managing any type of equipment by automation, companies with complex operations processes, like water and waste control, energy, oil and gas refining, transportation, telecommunications industries, employ the SCADA system to automate their operations, detect and correct problems, at the same time, and measure trends over time. For SCADA system to monitor and control a company’s operating processes, it collects data and analyses them on a real-time basis.

Data acquisition, network data communication, data presentation, and control are the four main functions which the SCADA system is designed to perform. To be able to perform these functions, SCADA system is equipped with the following components: sensors and control relays, Remote Telemetry Units (RTUs), master units, and a communication network, which consists of input/output signal hardware, networks, Human-machine Interface (HMI), controllers, communication, database, and software.

Two types of devices, of which either one is employed, that are usually connected to the SCADA system to perform its control functions and these are: RTUs or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). Companies with a SCADA system use the RTUs which has a more advanced functionality feature allowing for a more efficient and secure monitoring system.
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It is called Human-Machine Interface because it partners with a human operator by serving as a master station that communicates the processed status and information collected along the SCADA system to the human operator. It is therefore easy for operators to view the system alarms and information communicated by the HMI and from that, decisions are also easily made. Security measures are also considered such that SCADA information are kept back on closed LAN (Local Area Network) or WAN (Wide Area Network) networks in order to prevent any sensitive data from being exposed to outsiders over the Internet.
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Because of the expensive cost of utilizing LAN, another network support system through NetGuardian 832A may be employed which can support existing communications methods at remote sites, instead of LAN. Later, if the company intends to expand their LAN network, the cost of investment on this will still be worth it due to the fact that there won’t be RTU replacements which are usually utilized to support a new network.

The following are the overview functions and features of the SCADA system, depending on what specific features a company desires to employ: performs the work of an OPC Server or Protocol Translator, translate between any number of available protocols, includes a protocol analyzer, built in equation editor supports the creation of new data points based on raw data points and /or other equation points, OPC Certified, Conformance tested per DNP3 Intelligent Electronic Device (IED) Certification Procedure Subset Level2, report by Exception (RBE) is supported (transmitting only data changes, saving communication channel bandwidth), supports DNP3 Secure Authentication, supports selective logging of event data into a time-stamped Sequence of Events (SOE) log file, the Communication Protocol Analyzer Window displays and decodes transmitted and received messages, allows translation between data types and control methods from different protocols, supports mapping of points between Master and Slave, two Master, and/or two Slave protocol components.