Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a computer-based industrial control system that integrates hardware and software elements to manage industrial processes. It provides companies with local or remote control over equipment and processes while allowing real-time data to be collected, processed, and conveniently accessed. When designed and implemented properly, SCADA systems boost productivity and improve decision-making capabilities through accurate data processing and rapid communication of system issues.

Turner Integrated Systems specializes in the development of turnkey SCADA systems and other industrial control solutions aimed at helping industrial organizations streamline their day-to-day operations. Here, we provide an overview of SCADA technology and systems, including life-cycle phases, system design considerations, and the benefits of partnering with an experienced SCADA systems manufacturer.

SCADA System Life Cycle Stages

When implementing a SCADA system, it’s important to understand the different life cycle phases from planning and development to obsolescence. Having knowledge of each phase will allow you to make decisions to optimize your SCADA system’s lifespan and get the most out of your investment.

A SCADA system’s customer use life cycle can be divided into the following stages:

  • Planning. Before implementing a SCADA system, it’s important to assess your needs and expectations to create a plan for the best possible SCADA system to achieve your goals. During this phase, it is crucial to consider factors such as operation, process requirements, budget, resources, and more. Analyzing these factors will lead to a SCADA system plan that offers a comprehensive set of services to all users.
  • Development. This phase involves the development of your SCADA system. A SCADA systems manufacturer will work with you to design the new product and incorporate the necessary components to achieve the goals outlined in the planning phase.
  • Commissioning. During the commissioning phase, the SCADA system is put into operation. This stage involves testing and validating your system’s data and functionalities and making optimizations where necessary.
  • Support and Maintenance. Once commissioning is completed and your SCADA system has been implemented into your operations, it’s important to prepare for maintenance and support. Throughout the lifespan of your SCADA system, it may need upgrades or system maintenance. During this phase it’s important to keep documentation of all system changes and settings as well as new requirements and operational goals.
  • Obsolescence. Obsolescence occurs when the software manufacturer ceases to maintain your system, including system updates and support. Obsolescence comes with many risks, such as security breaches, increased maintenance costs, unreliable functioning, and decreased operational efficiency. When a full system replacement is required, it is important to transition to newer technologies before the existing system becomes obsolete and unsupported.

Designing the Right SCADA System

SCADA systems incorporate several types of interacting technologies and features that are selected based on the requirements of the given application. To make sure your system meets your functional and budgetary requirements, it is important to consider the following factors during the design phase:

Operating costs/Investment

When determining the total cost of SCADA system implementation, it is important to be aware of extra expenses related to operating the system. Some services are incorporated into the overall price of the system, while others may involve additional fees. Expenses to keep in mind when planning your budget include:

  • Training
  • IT management and support
  • Upgrades
  • Connections
  • Licensing Costs
  • Evolving Security Policies

Compatibility

One of the most important factors to keep in mind during the SCADA design process is the system’s compatibility with your current infrastructure. SCADA systems can be equipped with various types of components to suit the needs of your application. Specific considerations include:

  • Hardware (PLCs). Data collected by SCADA systems are translated into meaningful information using programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and other controls hardware. Incompatibility issues may arise when attempting to integrate modern SCADA communication protocols with dated hardware or hardware from multiple vendors. This can typically be remedied by incorporating a variety of native drivers into the SCADA control system.
  • Edge devices. An edge device can be used in situations where monitoring and data collection from a remote site is necessary. This enables local polling of the device and reporting by exception, which eliminates bandwidth and latency limitations.
  • Server-centric architecture. With a server-centric architecture, software can be installed and managed on one central server rather than being distributed across multiple machines. In general, this type of centrally managed architecture is more sustainable and easier to maintain.
  • Reporting system. Integrating an automated reporting system into your SCADA design can enhance your ability to create accurate, high-quality reports with minimal labor and input.
  • HMI Integration. Human machine interface (HMI) software allows the user to see what is going on in real time, such as trends, alarms, and other data. The operator can then make decisions to adjust settings or controls based on the data provided.
  • Existing Design Graphic Standards. Graphic standards provide guidelines for how your SCADA system displays data. This includes guidelines for colors, alarm indicators, data presentation, trends, and more. To avoid errors or confusion, it’s important to choose clear and concise graphics that display information in a way that is easy to understand.
  • Alarm Notification Requirements. Depending on your needs, SCADA system alarm notifications can be sent to your email, mobile phone, pager, or other device, regardless of where you are in the facility. This is extremely important as it notifies operators of critical issues that require immediate attention.

Software Support

To maximize your return on investment, it is important to select software that offers the flexibility to support your existing devices as well as new technologies you might require in the future. At Turner Integrated systems, we use products that allow for modular installations, meaning you only have to pay for the features you require.

Security

Integrating robust security measures into your SCADA system is critical for safeguarding your network and data against hackers, malware, and other external threats. Examples include firewalls, appropriate user access levels, intrusion detection technologies, and independent security audits.

Scalability for Future Expansion and Upgrades

A SCADA system should have a scalable architecture that can adapt to new technologies and accommodate growth, especially if you anticipate adding more production lines or another facility in the future. SCADA systems with limited scalability can easily become overloaded, resulting in slow response times, outages, and other complications.

Application Needs

The SCADA system should provide the necessary functionality to support your specific application. Examples of processes controlled by SCADA systems include:

  • Water and wastewater. Flow monitoring and control, process optimization, automated cleaning systems
  • Manufacturing. Automation and robot regulation, process monitoring
  • Energy. Power grid management, energy usage tracking, circuit breaker status supervision
  • Food and beverage. Condition monitoring, quality control, maintaining refrigeration systems
  • Oil and gas. Remote site monitoring, pipeline leak detection, tank monitoring
  • Recycling. Automated sorting and processing, remote site visibility
  • Transportation. Tracking/locating trains and buses, traffic light regulation, traffic flow control

Why Partner with a Systems Manufacturer?

Using in-depth knowledge of engineering and information technology, control systems manufacturers design and construct sophisticated control solutions that can be integrated into manufacturing operations and other industrial processes. Partnering with a qualified SCADA systems manufacturer with relevant industry experience provides companies with several benefits, including:

Knowledge of SCADA Implementation

A control systems manufacturer has the expertise to handle all stages of SCADA implementation, from system configuration to onsite integration and testing. The implementation process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Configuration. The systems manufacturer carefully plans the SCADA architecture based on your existing infrastructure and future goals. Equipment required for the system is configured in-house, and compatibility among the various SCADA components is tested.
  2. Integration. Once fully configured, the SCADA control system undergoes the commissioning process for validation. Once all data and functionalities are validated, the SCADA system is installed on-site for complete integration into your operation.
  3. On-site testing. After installation and integration are complete, the system and its parts are tested to make sure they perform as intended.

Systems Maintenance

To maintain a high level of performance, SCADA systems require routine and thorough maintenance and security checks. A systems manufacturer who understands the intricacies of your system can help you quickly identify operational issues and security vulnerabilities before they lead to equipment failures and downtime.

Expert Recommendations

Using a broad range of IT and engineering experience, a control systems manufacturer can evaluate your existing infrastructure and make valuable recommendations on how to configure your SCADA system for seamless integration and optimal functionality. They can also work with you to develop a flexible and scalable system capable of expanding to meet your future needs.

Upgrade Advice and Assistance

Routine upgrades are critical for maintaining the safety and functionality of your SCADA system and enhancing your ROI. A control systems manufacturer can perform regular comprehensive reviews of your system to determine when and how upgrades should be implemented for maximum benefit.

SCADA Systems from Turner Integrated Systems

Well-designed SCADA systems keep automated industrial processes running smoothly and efficiently while allowing companies to make informed, data-driven decisions regarding their operations. To maximize the benefits of these sophisticated control systems, it is important to work with a qualified control systems manufacturer with the appropriate industry experience to handle your facility’s needs.

Turner Integrated Systems is a leading systems designer and integrator of SCADA systems and other advanced industrial control technologies. Our customer-centric approach allows us to develop personalized turkey control systems that can be easily adapted or upgraded to accommodate both current and future needs. From system design and configuration to onsite installation, we work hard to make sure your new system provides the functionality, security, and decision-making capabilities to keep you operating at peak efficiency.

To learn more about our turnkey SCADA system solutions and how they can be tailored to meet your needs, please contact us today.