Communication Technology takes a new leap with Internet-based SCADA systems

The SCADA systems have been around for a long time. Highly versatile, robust, feature rich and dynamic, SCADA is the backbones of the urban infrastructural setups such as energy and utilities, power, environmental control systems, wastewater and water treatment, traffic control and manufacturing.

Most modern industries are utilizing the SCADA systems to track real-time data display, reporting, trending and alarming. With the advent of the internet, these processes have been refined to greater extents which have helped to expand this automation technology into wider applications. With real-time information becoming available anywhere with the help of high-speed Internet, SCADA is being observed under a new light and is being used at places with fresh opportunities. One such opportunity is accessing data from remote locations.

Web-based systems are allowing an organization to develop networks which can link the control rooms with field devices in remote locations. This makes the remote data available in real time, leading to smarter decisions. Other added incentives include cost savings, flexibility in maintenance scheduling and logistical convenience.

Technology facilitating internet SCADA

• Cellular modems enable wireless connection on a TCP/IP network. They allow IP hosts to communicate with remote site devices and telemetry equipment.

• Wireless Ethernet radios which enable IP connections to the Ethernet-enabled devices. They are also used for bridging multiple remote SCADA networks.

• Virtual Private Networks(VPNs) provide the security required for communication over a public web. Since SCADA systems are heavily used in critical infrastructural setups, they are prone to intrusion attempts. VPNs create private networks over the public world wide web.

• Web servers are an integral part of the internet based SCADA systems. These have enabled low-cost surfing technologies to be used as MMI in SCADA and PLCs. They help users to monitor remotely, diagnose and control remote websites.

• In the case of emergency, the web-based SCADA systems generate mails for alarms and reporting. These emails are sent to the email enabled systems and mobile devices.

• The web-based SCADA systems use FTP or File Transfer Protocol for transferring files between the remote sites and the central host. These files are used for logging, configuration, and reporting data.

Benefits of Internet-based SCADA systems

a. Connectivity of the SCADA control system with the corporate network ensures a solution which is implemented office-wide, integrating legacy and new SCADA equipment.

b. The web-based setup also offers flexibility. The equipment can be chosen base don their performance and costs rather than compatibility with the already installed base equipment.

c. The internet based SCADA is capable of scaling rapidly from a few sites over to thousands.

d. A single automation solution is suitable for both enterprise-wide and local applications.

e. Web-based SCADA systems give a wide area connectivity, are routable and offer large addressing ranges.

f. They also offer standardization.

Web-based SCADA systems are dynamic and operate in real time. This gives easy accessibility to real-time data from any device at any place. With right security features, their applications can be extrapolated from manufacturing to other areas with fresh opportunities.

 

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