Category Archive: SCADA Systems

Do Your Data & Control Systems Need an Upgrade?

Operational networks can be vast for many industries. To carefully control and monitor the network within a facility, companies invest in a supervisory control and data acquisition system, or SCADA system.

 

Understanding Safety PLCs

Think of SCADA systems as industrial-grade real-time tools that incorporate multiple industrial control systems for optimal control and total supervision from a centralized system. The SCADA system allows for the live monitoring of real-time data across the entire network through a graphical interface. If detecting any anomalies, this system provides alarms and meaningful descriptions so workers know exactly what the issue is and where it is located to perform remediation. SCADA systems are built to be long-lasting and durable.

The key capability of a SCADA system is that it allows remote access to control equipment and systems. Workers don’t have to go to each individual equipment station to manually input or monitor functions. Instead, SCADA systems centralize the plant operations in one convenient location.

However, you may currently face problems with your SCADA control systems. Use these 7 reasons to learn about when it is time for new SCADA upgrades.

The Top 7 Reasons to Upgrade Your SCADA System

Outdated Technology

While OEM equipment may last for over a decade, facility owners may invest in newer technologies and systems to increase overall operational efficiency. Since these newer machines and equipment use updated technologies, the existing SCADA system may not fully integrate with the current technologies. Updating or replacing SCADA systems with new custom control systems ensures reliable connectivity to all systems.

Difficulty Using Current System

When your system operators try to interact with the current SCADA controls, older systems may function slowly or be difficult to use because they were not designed to complement the current equipment within the facility. This problem becomes further exacerbated when not having consistent Human-Machine Interface (HMI) design standards. This dashboard provides workers with greater monitoring and control of system functions throughout the facility.

Here at Turned Integrated Systems, our system manufacturing capabilities focus on providing high-performance HMI design standards for easier user control and more robust operations.

Poor Security Features

Since technology is constantly evolving, so are cybersecurity hacks and data breaches. Older SCADA systems simply do not have the newer security and encryption protocols in place to keep data from being mined, deleted, or held for ransom. New SCADA custom control systems have upgraded security protocols as well as two-step authentication, encryption, and secure remote access features.

Fewer Replacement Parts Available

As technologies evolve, fewer system manufacturers will stock older replacement parts for legacy SCADA systems. Your facility may have to go to the OEM to obtain the right parts, which could increase costs when sourcing materials. In time, even the OEM may start to phase out their replacement part inventories to only offer more current SCADA products and software.

Noncompliance with IT Standards

Companies constantly modify existing IT standards or institute new standards. The current SCADA system may no longer meet these standards, making a full upgrade or replacement of the system necessary. The IT standards may also change due to a previous data breach to shore up security gaps.

Unreliable Connectivity & Inconsistent Functions

Disparate system controls lead to various issues, including spotty connectivity during peak times of operation. Another issue involves trying to get the systems and equipment to perform optimally. Unfortunately, older SCADA systems can have inconsistent functions and capabilities, which can cause issues when trying to access and maintain systems across multiple facilities.

Lack of Newer Features/Functionality

Older SCADA features and functions may slow down operations. Your company may lose its competitive edge against rival companies that have newer SCADA systems. By upgrading your SCADA system, you can gain features such as access to 3D graphics, built-in reporting, forecasting, and even mobile support.

Custom Control Solutions from Turner

Experiencing any of the above issues may be indicators that it is time to either replace or upgrade your SCADA system. With a newer SCADA system, you can increase your competitive edge with greater operational efficiency and reduce redundant functions. Here at Turner Integrated Systems, we offer expert SCADA programming and industrial control designs for your specific operations. Contact our company to learn more.

PLCs and SCADA Systems in the Wastewater Treatment Industry

From cooking and drinking to bathing and washing to product manufacturing to waste management, water plays a role in many of our day-to-day applications. Once it has served its role in these applications, it is not simply discarded. It is categorized as wastewater—also referred to as sewage—and sent to a wastewater treatment facility, where it is cleaned up for reuse. This water use cycle ensures we maintain a sustainable supply of safe water for the future.

The wastewater treatment process is highly complex, requiring accurate and precise measurement and control over various equipment (e.g., pumps, purifiers, and filters) and equipment parameters (e.g., pressure, flow, and filtration). By integrating measurement and control technologies into operations, wastewater facilities can ensure they achieve and maintain the proper process conditions for effective and efficient water and wastewater treatment. In recent years, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems have grown in popularity within the industry as facilities work to manage the increase in wastewater stemming from rising water use across the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.

Importance of PLCs in Wastewater Treatment

Programmable logical controllers (PLCs) are ruggedized digital computers often utilized for industrial process automation. They can be used to automate a single process or machine function or an entire system setup by stopping, starting, slowing, or speeding equipment operation in response to inputs from connected devices (e.g., control panels and sensors).

In the wastewater industry, these devices help ensure treatment operations proceed smoothly with little to no human operator involvement. Some of the equipment they are typically used to control include filtration and aeration units.PLCS & SCADA Systems

Compared to older automation technology (e.g., relays and timing mechanisms), PLCs have a number of advantages, such as:

  • Greater ease of use. PLCs require less time and resources to integrate as they can simply be reprogrammed to suit different process requirements and restrictions. In contrast, older automation technologies needed to be rewired to accommodate new specifications.
  • Better process reliability. PLCs automate equipment operation based on data provided by various sensors and input devices. This function ensures the process conditions remain appropriate at any given time.
  • Lower labor requirements. Automating wastewater treatment operations reduces the workload of human operators, freeing them up to focus on other important facility tasks.

Importance of SCADA Systems in Wastewater Treatment

PLCs are an essential component of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. SCADA systems consist of a collection of hardware and software components that collect, transmit, and distribute data across various devices within a network. The information can then be analyzed to determine whether any system adjustments are needed.

In the wastewater treatment industry, these systems are used to ensure the quality of the processed water. They provide graphical and numerical data about different process instruments and equipment and enable human operators to adjust operations accordingly in response to the provided information. These functions help ensure conditions during water treatment operations remain at effective and safe levels.

Some of the benefits of integrating SCADA systems in water and wastewater treatment facilities include:

  • Improved use of existing infrastructure and resources
  • Reduced risk of operator overload in situations where multiple system alarms may occur within a short period of time
  • Enhanced monitoring of remote and vulnerable sites
  • Decreased costs for utility companies and customers
  • Better oversight over systems and processes
  • Automated data collection and reporting operations

PLC and SCADA Solutions for the Wastewater Treatment Industry at Turner

PLCs and SCADA systems are key to improving water quality, increasing process efficiency, reducing labor costs, and more in wastewater treatment facilities. If you’re looking to integrate them into your facility, turn to the experts at Turner Integrated Systems.

We design, manufacture, and install control systems for a wide range of industries, including the wastewater treatment industry. Whether you need assistance with PLC programming and implementation, SCADA integration, hazardous areas design, or something else, we’ve got you covered. We will deliver an appropriate control solution and discuss how to properly use and maintain it to ensure it operates smoothly.

To learn more about our control system capabilities and how we can benefit your wastewater treatment facility, contact us today.

SCADA Security

 

What Is SCADA Security?

SCADA security systems are put in place to protect Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) networks. These vital Industrial Control Systems (ICS) help to regulate a number of critical infrastructure services, including electric power, water, transportation, and natural gas. Protecting these systems from cyber attacks is an essential job.

Until recently, SCADA networks could only be monitored with traditional security methods—that is, employees needed to physically visit the station in which the SCADA system was located.

However, as computer technology developed, SCADA security systems improved as well. Wide Area Networks (WAN) allow various security components to easily communicate with each other, providing ongoing network security and monitoring.

Due to the fact that ICSs regulate a significant amount of critical infrastructure, they are frequent targets for cyber attacks. Although improvements in technology have improved SCADA security, an increase in the use of IP-based systems comes with its own security threats.

As organizations begin to provide more partners with access to the inner workings of their ICSs, it becomes easier for hackers to gain access to their systems. In fact, 40% of sites utilizing ICS have connections to public Internet, and over half of them don’t run up-to-date anti-virus software.

SCADA Network Security Threats

Cyber warfare continues to threaten network security every day. There are four main security threats that SCADA systems face:

  • Hackers: These people may work as individuals or in groups. They gain access to SCADA networks with malicious intent, often for their own gain. They may also be employed by governments committing acts of cyber warfare. 
  • Employees: Workers often unintentionally cause problems within SCADA systems. Most frequently, these problems are accidental and can be remedied with additional training.
  • Malware: Malware, including spyware and viruses, may not specifically target SCADA systems, but it can still pose a significant security threat.
  • Terrorists: Unlike hackers, terrorists are generally not motivated by their own personal gain. Instead, terrorists specifically set out to cause a significant amount of damage to critical infrastructure.

Network Security Procedures

Completing thorough risk assessments and establishing security measures is vital to the safety of SCADA networks. One of the first steps to increase security is to document the entire system, taking note of the areas where it connects to any internal network or to the Internet. Documenting each person who has access to the SCADA system also helps increase security.

Once the network has been thoroughly mapped, it is important to create standard security measures to ensure the long-term safety of the system. Everyone who has access to the network should employ report monitoring, security checks, and regular risk assessments.

As security threats constantly evolve and adapt, network security must be assessed and necessary changes should be made on an ongoing basis. Some specific security measures that can improve SCADA security include:

  • Disconnecting unnecessary SCADA connections and strengthening necessary ones
  • Removing unnecessary services
  • Avoiding reliance on proprietary protocols for protection
  • Setting up 24-hour incident monitoring
  • Establishing strong authentication procedures over any backdoors into the SCADA network
  • Performing regular technical audits

Get Help to Secure Your SCADA Systems

SCADA systems can be challenging to secure—but at Turner Integrated Systems, our experts are up to the task. We create personalized turnkey ICSs that are secured for use in your unique application. 

From the very beginning of the project, our engineers will work closely with you to ensure that we fulfill your needs. We drastically reduce security vulnerabilities by keeping all designing and manufacturing in-house—and we provide full installation and documentation services once the project is complete. 

To learn more about our SCADA development services and security solutions, contact us today.