What is SCADA?

SCADA is the acronym for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. SCADA is a computer-based system for gathering and analyzing real-time data to monitor and control equipment that deals with critical and time-sensitive materials or events. SCADA systems were first used in the 1960s and are now an integral component in virtually all industrial plant and production facilities. 

SCADA Systems are Widely Used in the Following:

  • Oil and Gas
    • Pipeline monitoring and control
    • Remote monitoring and control of production, pumping, and storage locations
    • Offshore platforms and onshore wells
    • Refineries, petro-chemical stations
  • Water and Wastewater
    • Water treatment centers and distribution
    • Wastewater collection and treatment facilities
  • Utilities
    • Electrical power distribution from gas-fired, coal, nuclear
    • Electrical power transmission and distribution
  • Agriculture / Irrigation
  • Manufacturing
  • Food and Beverage
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • And many others

An Example of a SCADA Application

A typical SCADA system can be setup to monitor a critical leak on a pipeline, and then once a leak is detected; it can carry out a chain of commands using machines to either alert a signal of the leak and/or immediately close the valve (Emergency Shutdown - ESD) to minimize or eliminate hazardous conditions, revenue or production loss. Each SCADA system can be custom tailored to exactly fit a particular application; it can be relatively simple – small office building (low budget) to incredibly complex – nuclear plant (high budget). 

Why are SCADA Systems Important?

The importance of SCADA systems is automation. It allows an organization to carefully study and anticipate the optimal response to measured conditions and execute those responses automatically every time. Relying on precise machine control for monitoring equipment and processes virtually eliminates human error. More importantly, it automates common, tedious, routine tasks once performed by a human, which further increases productivity, improves management of critical machine failure in real-time, and minimizes the possibility of controllable environmental disasters.

In addition, SCADA systems are needed to monitor and control a large geographical displacement where an organization may not have enough manpower to cover. Thus, reliable communication and operability of these areas or sites is critical to profitability. 

What are SCADA Systems Key Components?

SCADA systems utilize Distribution Control Systems (DCS), Process Control Systems (PCS), Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and Remote Terminal Units (RTU) that perform the majority of local and remote process alarming, monitoring and control. The PLC or RTU are the primary work horses in the industries listed above. The main requirement of these devices includes monitoring liquid level and gas meter readings, equipment voltage and current, operating pressure and temperature, or other equipment status. 

What is Wireless SCADA?

Many organizations are now adopting the latest wireless communication technologies to replace certain sections of their hardwired SCADA system infrastructures with wireless equipment for improving reliability and cost. Wireless technologies cost-effectively provide remote and localized control and transfer of live and historical data to the industries home centralized location operation.

Implementing a wireless infrastructure is particularly beneficial to new production sites or facilities since installing wireless equipment can drastically reduce installation cost and time, reduce permit costs, and eliminate trenching and running conduit, while minimizing wire failure due to degradation and other environmental factors. Again, utilizing wireless technology reduces initial cost by completely removing the need for long distance direct burial analog (4-20 mA) cabling. In addition, I/O analog to digital converter modules typically used in hardwire control instrumentation loops utilized by PLCs or RTUs are also eliminated.

What is the Role of OleumTech in Wireless SCADA Systems?

OleumTech provides wireless instrumentation for monitoring field equipment and critical processes including pressure, liquid level, flow, temperature, discrete, and alarm using one of the WIO® System Wireless Transmitters. The transmitters are certified for Class I; Division 1 hazardous location and are battery-powered, self-contained, and intrinsically safe. The collected data is wirelessly communicated via Modbus protocol through a WIO® Wireless Gateway to a third-party PLC, RTU, HMI, or DCS that are part of a SCADA system.

The OleumTech WIO® System wirelessly provides solutions for wireless fail-safe, wireless valve control, and wireless emergency shutdown (ESD) applications.

The drawing below depicts a basic Wireless SCADA with the new integrated wireless end node instrumentation.