What should I look for in my SCADA software?

Modern day SCADA software applications are versatile, fully functional and feature laden. However, when it comes to a system which will suit your plant specific requirements, you have to carefully measure which features you actually need. The SCADA system that you pick must be value for money, easy to use and have features which are customizable. Your system integrator should feel comfortable while using the application.

However, if you are a novice in the field, or setting up a new plant, then there are some of the basic features which you should look for in a system.

These are as follows:

a. Platform-friendly

Your SCADA system must be platform independent which means that it should be able to run on any operating system, whether Linux, Windows or Mac. It should be a complete system in itself and should require no or minimum third party applications.

b. Graphics

The SCADA software must have interactive graphics which can be customized as per facility requirements.

Some of the features of interactive graphics include:

– Ability to edit without interruption by system functions
– Ability to edit database items with plant processes running in the background
– Built-in capability to configure data reporting and logging
– Automatic report generation from historical data and maintenance scheduling
– Ability to view the database, logs and report files in CSV format or spreadsheets.

c. HMI Interface

Your SCADA software must possess powerful HMI features including unlimited graphic pages and objects, dynamic coloring and animation, object interaction such as report loading, screen jumping, system outputs, support for text, shapes, bitmaps, videos, etc. along with a customizable color palette.

d. Alarms

Alarms are a unique feature of SCADA systems. Whenever there is an anomaly in a process or an input does not match with the trend, the SCADA system raises an alarm. Make sure your software has the feature of alarming over the facility and phone, so as to avoid incidents.

Some of the features to look for include:

– Individual and group alarm alert notifications
– Different alarm alert levels depending on emergency levels
– Support for logging and retrieval of alarms from historian database
– Configurable alarms for activating remote notifications

e. Personnel information for handling SCADA systems

There can be multiple personnel operating on the system at any given time. Consequently, the SCADA system you select must be capable of supporting multiple users as system operators, with each user having his unique username, password, and designated security levels.

f. Report Generation

Your audit team and security advisors may want to review the status quo of your plant facility from time to time. This means that the logged historian data should be retrieved and printed in the form of user-defined reports.

Your SCADA system must be able to:

– Generate reports on demand
– Generate reports in desired formats of CSV or spreadsheets
– Store the reports on storage devices with the ability to backup automatically.

g. Schedule maintenance

The SCADA application must be able to support extensive maintenance scheduling. It should be able to set up maintenance for acquired data. The maintenance scheduling must be available both online and offline.

In a nutshell, the software you chose must be able to work in harmony with the plant facilities. It should be easy to operate, secure, scalable and must give in returns on your investments and capital in the long run.


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