How to Use SCADA to Improve Your Business

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SCADA is a convenient tool to help businesses automate their systems. This technology has brought water and wastewater industries to another level. It enables and helps companies make better decisions, improve efficiency, and decrease downtime.

It is also used in other industries like automation, oil and gas, and manufacturing. Here are some more ways SCADA can improve your business.

What is SCADA?

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, or SCADA, is a computer system used to collect, gather, analyze, and summarize real-time data. This system is typically used to monitor and control equipment and plants used in wastewater and other water industries.

SCADA software is also utilized in oil, energy, gas transportation and refining, and other industrial, technical, and manufacturing sectors.

Some typical applications for a SCADA system are monitoring energy usage and checking metrics. This system helps, and aids factory operators analyze and resolve energy usage data from the connected equipment. They then use those data and reports to cut the costs and energy waste of the company.

How Remote Monitoring Works?

When a SCADA system finishes gathering and analyzing all necessary data and information, it transfers and sends the data back to the leading site. Once at the main site, it alerts the home stations if any issues and concerns need to be addressed.

After all the analysis and scanning, the system determines if the problem needs urgent amends and remediation. The system then displays and shows all information in an organized manner.

The information on SCADA software may seem straightforward and direct when monitoring and observing environmental conditions in small spaces; other circumstances and areas can be somewhat complex and complicated.

Some activities in a nuclear power plant or even a primary municipal water system could be considered complicated, elaborate, and complex SCADA systems. Some systems may have some security weaknesses and vulnerabilities, so each system should be checked and evaluated carefully and meticulously.

Other than data collection, controllers can also initiate and commence signals or commands based on the control programs. These programs can all be written, deployed, and managed from the cloud. This way, it allows supervisors, engineers, and integrators to make quick and fast adjustments and changes without the hassle of going to the physical site.

Components of SCADA

A SCADA system consists of several main elements: supervisory computers, programmable logic controllers or PLC, remote terminals units or RTU, and communication infrastructure.

  • Supervisory computers are the core and essential element of the SCADA system. Its function is to gather data, process the data, and send control commands to the field and the connected devices.
  • The PLC is connected to the actuators and sensors during the process. They are then networked to the supervisory system. For applications that are processed remotely, like big water treatment plants, the PLCs may connect directly to SCADA via a wireless link or use the RTU for managing the communications.

The communication infrastructure then connects the supervisory computer system to the RTU and PLC.

  • The RTU or remote terminal unit’s job is to connect to the actuators and sensors. These are all networked to the supervisory computer system. They also have embedded control capabilities.
  • The human-machine interface or HMI is the one that operates the window of the supervisory system and other critical and vital components of SCADA software. The HMI shows the plant information to the person using the system.

Tips for SCADA Modernization

  • Always update your SCADA and the OS versions and its patches. It is one of the critical steps that you must follow. Most utilities and facilities are still using old versions of the SCADA software. There are regular updates that can help your system align and coordinate with the recent upgrades and features to improve the system.

Failure to upgrade your system may lead to increased security concerns. Sometimes, when people continue to use the obsolete or old versions, they can pay extra costs without knowing about it.

Before doing any other type of upgrades or modernization in the interface, ensure that the SCADA and its operating system is updated. It will enhance the capabilities of the utilities and services.

  • Be consistent with SCADA implementation. This step will improve efficiency by setting standards for all the SCADA systems. It includes configuration, application, architecture, remote access, and security. Standardization will lower errors made, keep costs low, and improve the effectiveness of the operations.
  • A disaster recovery plan is a must-have. This plan is more than for your peace of mind because it is crucial for improving reliability, dependability, and availability. You can start small by making a version plan that is related to restoration and backups.

You can also write up a roadmap for long-term projects and think about having a fail-over system with some configurations for minimal and small disruptions.

  • Apply and execute data management. Always have a plan to collect, store, and distribute all your data safely. Your plant will only operate effectively and efficiently if all the correct information is available and on-time.

Consider having a plant-wide historian to have more trustworthy and consistent information that gathers data sources, supplies the ability to extend as the system continually grows, and merge data management layers with a GIS system or CMMS.

These modern technologies make information readily available for stakeholders who do not directly access SCADA but need to decide on planning and demand.

Benefits of SCADA for Lift Stations

When you receive a full-service SCADA system, that can mean a huge and significant decrease in costs and expenditures for utilities, here are other benefits of SCADA for a lift station:

  • Decreased liability and culpability to the utility when it comes to wastewater leakage and flooding
  • Lower equipment repair costs because of early discovery and detection and automated diagnosis
  • Utility personnel can use their time and resources on other things because of the reduced and decreased time inspecting and maintenance visits to other remote lift stations
  • Data is stored indefinitely at the database available for review
  • Historical data are readily available to aid in planning upgrades to other lift station equipment
  • Smaller capital and continuous maintenance costs

Conclusion

SCADA is one of the go-to tools for water and wastewater operations. It is one of the most critical steps to take to ensure your facility reaches its best and most effective processes. This system has changed the way utilities operate and function by improving how operators receive and interact with data.

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