Category Archive: SCADA Systems

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.

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.