Overview of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)

A centralized, computer monitoring and controlling system that is utilized for plant sites which are located at a long distance is referred to as SCADA system. 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. In order for the SCADA system meet its objective of monitoring and controlling a company’s operating process, the system first collects data and analyze them.

The following are the main function components of the SCADA system: data acquisition, network data communication, data presentation, and control. The SCADA system is made up of the following: 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, for it to perform its functions.

There are two types of devices which are utilized by the SCADA system to perform its controlling function and these devices are RTUs or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). Between these two devices, it is 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. Since all pieces of data taken from the entire complex unit are collected by the HMI, operators can easily view the system alarms and information through the HMI and through that decisions are made based on the communicated readings. Since the company’s operation processes, which the SCADA system is managing, are confidential, for security reasons, SCADA information are kept on closed LAN (Local Area Network) or WAN (Wide Area Network) networks to prevent 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.

These are the overall functions and features of the SCADA system, although its functions/features will be employed on specifications by a company, – 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.

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