What to Look for in a SCADA Master

Your SCADA master should display information in the most useful ways to human operators and intelligently regulated your managed systems. Here's a checklist of SCADA master must-haves:

  • Flexible, programmable response to sensor inputs. Look for a system that provides easy tools for programming soft alarms (reports of complex events that track combinations of sensor inputs and date/time statements) and soft controls (programmed control responses to sensor inputs).
  • 24/7, automatic pager and email notification. There's no need to pay personnel to watch a board 24 hours a day. If equipment needs human attention, the SCADA master can automatically page or email directly to repair technicians.
  • Detailed information display. You want a system that displays reports in plain English, with a complete description of what activity is happening and how you can manage it.
  • Nuisance alarm filtering. Nuisance alarms desensitize your staff to alarm reports, and they start to believe that all alarms are nonessential alarms. Eventually they stop responding even to critical alarms. Look for a SCADA master that includes tools to filter out nuisance alarms.
  • Expansion capability. A SCADA system is a long-term investment that will last for as long as 10 to 15 years. So you need to make sure it will support your future growth for up to 15 years.
  • Redundant, geodiverse backup. The best SCADA systems support multiple backup masters, in separate locations.. If the primary SCADA master fails, a second master on the network automatically takes over, with no interruption of monitoring and control functions.
  • Support for multiple protocols and equipment types. Early SCADA systems were built on closed, proprietary protocols. Single-vendor solutions aren't a great idea - vendors sometimes drop support for their products or even just go out of business. Support for multiple open protocols safeguards your SCADA system against unplanned obsolescence.

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