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How to Optimize Your Network Data Collection with SCADA

By Morgana Siggins

February 19, 2021


Modern Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems allow real-time data from remote sites to be accessed from anywhere in the world. This access to instant information allows governments, businesses, and individuals to make informed decisions about how to improve their processes.

Download our SCADA Tutorial.

Virtually anywhere you look in today's world, there is some kind of SCADA system running behind the scenes. That's because, without SCADA, it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to gather sufficient data to consistently make well-informed decisions.

In this article, we'll take a look at important SCADA components that will provide you reliable remote site monitoring information. These elements will optimize data collection, ultimately improving your company's bottom line. So, let's dive in.

Effective Network Management Starts With Efficient Data Collection

An organization can't manage what they don't know or can't measure.

For that reason, companies that have their operation rely on remote networks need to be full visibility over their equipment and devices. Technicians are then dispatched to remote sites to manually collect and record network data. This can cause a series of issues, such as:

  • Lack of current information
  • Human error
  • Expensive truck rolls
  • Wasted time and resources

So, instead of sending your techs to the field every time you need to know what's going on, a SCADA system will automatically (and continuously) compile information about your remote processes and send it to you. This system transmits digitized information in real-time, and also assembles backlogs of all collected data that can be easily analyzed later. This is known as a process historian and commonly uses a SQL database.

Gathering information regarding your equipment performance allows you to detect potential problems before they evolve into bigger issues that will affect your workflow. If there's even a small portion of your network that isn't being properly monitored, it could suffer an outage without you even realizing it.

An effective network management solution needs to be able to efficiently collect data from every piece of gear you need to monitor. Otherwise, you'll be blind to any performance issues that may occur.

Important SCADA Elements for Data Collection

In order to have full visibility over your remote network, it's critical that you are able to gather as much data as possible from your devices. Data collection also has to be done in a timely manner. After all, how can you quickly avoid downtime if you're not aware of issues right away?

Efficient SCADA systems will perform thorough data collection so you can be promptly informed of any problems. For that, these systems will count on important components. They are:

1. Sensors

Sensors are the field instrumentation related to all of the monitors and transmitters deployed on the site where your network application is located. These devices will detect changes in process and conditions and send this information to the remote terminal unit which is connected to.

Sensors can come in multiple different forms, such as:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Vibration
  • Airflow
  • Analog propane tank
  • Motion

Our D-Wire sensors were designed to help you avoid the mess of having to deal with a tangled mess of wires. Not only do the D-Wire sensors only require one wire to transport bath data and power, but they can also be daisy-chained through one port in your RTU unit.

Take a look at all of our D-Wire sensor options.

2. Remote Terminal Units

Remote terminal units (RTUs) obtain and compile information supplied by sensors, preparing it for display and analysis by the human-machine interface. RTUs count on microprocessors to convert data gathered from sensors into usable information for the central master station.

The NetGuardian RTUs are an intuitive and scalable solution if you want reliable data acquisition. They can be used in many different networks to effectively manage complex remote automation and control applications while converting equipment data into relevant, actionable information. You'll be able to have efficient remote monitoring, diagnostic, and asset management capabilities.

Our RTUs are designed to withstand harsh environments and for easy deployment at remote sites. They also allow you to perform remote maintenance, which reduces the need to send your techs to the field.

Take a look at all of our NetGuardian RTU options.

3. Human-Machine Interface

Human-machine interface (HMI) devices are master units that allow users to supervise their SCADA data acquisition process. Serving as a central processor or master station, the HMI also allows you to configure and modify your system as needed.

Operators also use HMIs to interact with the collected data through a graphical user interface and compile analysis reports for later use.

Our T/Mon LNX is an HMI that gives you a complete picture of what's going on at all times. It provides a unified view and encompasses your remote sites so you can see everything on your network. T/Mon also allows you to improve your network performance and uptime by monitoring and analyzing everything from one actionable, integrated dashboard.

With T/Mon, you can turn messy equipment racks into graphical representations that are logical and easy to interpret. You can zoom in from region maps to remote sites, to a single device. This way, you'll always know where the problem is.

With a competent HMI, like the T/Mon, you don't need to pay extra to have your personnel watch your SCADA dashboard 24 hours a day. If an alarm happens, your HMI should be able to automatically send an email or text message directly to the technician on call.

4. Communications Network

The exchange of data that occurs between SCADA systems' components happens due to the communications network. In other words, the communications network is the data transport method that will allow your SCADA devices to talk to each other.

There are many alternatives to data transport methods, but your choice will most likely depend on the options available at your remote sites. And, usually, your remote monitoring device choice will also depend on the type of transport you have available. For example, if you have LAN at your remote sites, you need to make sure your RTU also supports LAN transport.

Network connectivity is as important to SCADA operations as a power supply. To avoid connectivity issues, it's important that your monitoring device supports a secondary transport method as a backup in case the first one goes down for whatever reason.

There are many communication network methods, some of them are:

  • LAN
  • Cellular
  • Serial transmission, such as RS-232
  • T1
  • Satellite
  • Fiber
SCADA system
Structure of a SCADA system from DPS.

Top Notch SCADA Solutions From DPS

It doesn't matter if you're a network manager or technician, you need to make sure your remote facilities are running as efficiently and effectively as possible. SCADA is a means to that.

We have an extensive track record in providing data acquisition and control solutions for our clients. We design and build custom SCADA systems that improve operational performance, grow with your facility, and provide long-term stability and cost control.

So, if you need a way to have complete, efficient visibility over your remote network, just let us know. We can help you.

Morgana Siggins

Morgana Siggins

Morgana Siggins is a marketing writer, content creator, and documentation specialist at DPS Telecom. She has created over 200 blog articles and videos sharing her years of experience in the remote monitoring industry.