SCADA technology is a more modern incarnation of network alarm monitoring technology that's been used since the 60's. The broader term defining those more-traditional systems is "DCS" (Distributed Control System). Factories are big users of this technology.
The trouble with DCS, however, was that it wasn't intended to cover a large geographic area. Think "manufacturing plant" rather than "gas distribution network".
SCADA, on the other hand, was built to meet the need of covering a large territory (or even an entire nation). This opened up new doors and remote-management possibilities in several industries, including: manufacturing, water and sewage, electric power generation and mass transit. For this reason, SCADA programming is a very important skill in the modern economy.
Real-world physical conditions must translated into machine language and then into signals that humans can read, record, and analyze. Therefore, SCADA system development involves programming at various levels. In SCADA programming, data is collected at the RTU and has to be converted into signals, which is followed by interpreting this data that requires HMI. Often, this data also has to be compiled and stored (history databases) for recognizing trends and analysis work. As a result, customized database systems have to be developed. Networks and communication systems bring in more varied requirements.
What is involved in SCADA programming?
With more and more SCADA systems being deployed globally, the odds are increasing that you may be called on someday to program a system. So what will that involve?
How exactly you'll do your programming depends on the system. In some setups, you'll be designing logic sequences to be executed when certain "trigger events" occur. This is common in manufacturing. If you work with a large-scale network (telco, power utility, railway, government, etc.), it's more likely that you'll be working in simpler configuration interfaces and won't really be "programming" in the traditional sense. You won't be writing code on a dark terminal somewhere.
An RTU web interface is a great example of "configuring" a SCADA implementation rather than "programming". After you've wired various inputs into the RTU, you'll have to tell the RTU (via its web interface) what to call each item. Did you wire in a temperature sensor? A generator voltage? Something else?
Higher up the chain, you'll need to perform similar provisioning of your master station (HMI). This is important, because your master station brings together all of your disparate RTU/PLC elements into a single view. "Programming" in a master/HMI context involves creating maps or diagrams that provide important situational awareness in an emergency. You want to see exactly WHERE a problem is, not some cryptic code number or label.
SCADA configuration example:
One client came to DPS with the following requirements:
The DPS Telecom SCADA Guide is a tutorial that teaches the fundamentals of SCADA with a practical focus. This guide also recommends product features that you can ask vendors about when you are expanding your monitoring.
To find out more about this and other DPS applications, give us a call at our toll-free number and talk to one of our network specialists. They'll help you put together a perfect fit solution for your network!
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