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SCADA Programming and Training for Railroad Professionals Needing Remote Monitoring Solutions

SCADA programming

Here's a fun fact about railroads. When they were first built across the country, there was a sudden need for time to be standardized. After all, if every town has their own idea of when "3:30" is, there would be chaos. Time zones, which impact so much of our lives, were invented because of the railroads.

To say that railroads have always been important is understating the case. And today, they still are the cleanest way for people to get around and the most important method for shipping freight across the country. Our lives and our economy depend on a well-functioning railway system, and more and more that is depending on remote monitoring.

With vast spaces between stations, remote monitoring is crucial to keeping rails running well. It helps make preventative maintenance possible, enhances communication, modernizes the user experience, avoids breakdowns, and makes for happier passengers.

Proper programming and training allow railroad professionals to employ remote monitoring with maximum results.

The future of rail is vital to the future of the country and the world. Getting the right system for SCADA, programming and training can help protect that future.

Understanding how SCADA for Railroads Works

When we talk about remote monitoring, we're talking about what is known as a SCADA system. SCADA, which stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, is a system that is comprised of multiple parts working together to give you an overview of and control over your entire network.

As the same implies, there are two primary components of the SCADA system: the part that acquires data, and the control capabilities.

  • Data Acquisition. Everything that happens throughout your railroad system can be measured. This is everything from train-to-train communication to track conditions to the weather. Remote telemetry units, or RTUs, can be programmed to measure all these events and provide an alert if something isn't correct.
  • Control. These alerts go to a master station, which is programmed to respond. This response can be pinging other RTUs for more information, automatically fixing the problem, or alerting the right person. How it responds depends on the programming.

All of this happens essentially instantaneously.

As an example, let's say a bolt of lightning hits a transformer and knocks out your signal lights in a distant location. The RTU will alert the master, which will then enact a few responses. It can send an alert to the trains on the rails so that they know to take caution.

It can send an alert to you so that you know what is going on. And it can send an alert to whoever has to fix it. If the system is programmed correctly, you can quickly solve a big problem.

That's just one of the many variations of SCADA in action. Let's see how it can make your railroad run even better.

What SCADA Can Do For Railroads

From that example, we start to see what remote monitoring can do. Here is how SCADA can help in the big picture.

  • Keep communication working. Railroads are incredibly complex. Between regulatory bodies, railway right-of-way owners, and those who run the trains, there needs to be constant communication. This involves more wireless and cellular communication. Remote monitoring lets you know if anything is going wrong with it, so you can find the program right away and address it.
  • Install a preventative maintenance regime. Because of the sheer size of railroads, managers have often relied on a "fix when broken" system of maintenance, which is understandable. But having a full picture means you can understand when things are beginning to go wrong, which helps you keep the system running.
  • Track what's on the tracks. More and more, customers demand to-the-minute updates on arrival and departure. To provide that, you need a communication and monitoring system that works. RTUs help keep that system running, enhancing customer service.

What does all this mean? It means fewer delays due to missed communication. It means spending less time fixing things that are broken. And it means a better customer experience for passengers and for shippers. It also means you are empowered to do what you do best.

To get there, though, you need the right system, and it needs to be programmed right. To do that, you need the right partner.

The Need for SCADA Programming And Training For Best Results

If you're a railroad professional, you're no stranger to complexity. Along with timezones, the staggering complexity of the railroad practically invented the modern managerial model. So you can probably appreciate how complex it is to monitor everything.

Every event needs to be programmed to have at least one response. That programming is the heart of the system.

What you'll need is a partner who can help you set up the system, preferably someone with experience in the rail industry. Having a programming partner is invaluable.

That said, things will keep changing. You will need to continually change your initial programming. That's why training is so important. Whether it is factory training or onsite training, making sure that all your people know how to use the system is key to its success.

Finding the Right Partner for Your SCADA System

It's important to find a partner who does online training, with helpful videos, webinars, and tutorials.

It doesn't stop there though. You know the work needed to make the trains run on time. That's why your right partner will have best-in-class tech support, to give you assistance when you need it. Personalized service from the people who built your unique, custom system is invaluable.

Then there is the question of upgrades. Tech changes. Using a company that might not be around in 2-3 years means you'll have different vendors and different technologies.

Trying to integrate that into your system is expensive and creates a patchwork approach. That makes running your SCADA system difficult. But working with an established partner means you have one supplier of technology, creating easy integrations and consistent upgrades.

140,000 miles of track. 100,000 bridges. Millions of carloads of freight. Half a billion rides every year.

Whatever your part of the railroad system is, it's important. Remote monitoring is the best way to keep it running, and SCADA programming and training is a crucial part of that.

We're proud to be your partner whenever you need us.

DPS Telecom has the experience and expertise to help companies monitor what matters most - including their SCADA system. Our technicians can work with you to install RTUs with easy-to-use interfaces for more automatic responses. Reach out and get a quote today!

Image courtesy Shutterstock