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Knowing SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)

The SCADA system is a computer application that is used to monitor and control a plant or equipment located at a long distance. Since the SCADA system can be applied to manage any type of equipment, many companies, such as in water and waste control, energy, oil and gas refining, transportation, telecommunications industries, avail of it to automate their complex industrial processes, detect and correct problems, as well as measure trends on a company’s operating processes. SCADA system’s software application of monitoring and controlling a process can be realized by first collecting data and analyzing it.

There are four important functions which the SCADA system is programmed to do and these are: data acquisition, network data communication, data presentation, and control. The SCADA system is made up of the following: sensors and control relays, Remote Telemetry Units (RTUs), master units, and a communication network, which consists of input/output signal hardware, networks, Human-machine Interface (HMI), controllers, communication, database, and software, for it to perform its functions.

Two types of devices, of which either one is employed, that are usually connected to the SCADA system to perform its control functions and these are: RTUs or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). Companies with a SCADA system use the RTUs which has a more advanced functionality feature allowing for a more efficient and secure monitoring system.
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It is called Human-Machine Interface because it partners with a human operator by serving as a master station that communicates the processed status and information collected along the SCADA system to the human operator. The HMI functions allow for an easy viewing by the operators on the system alarms and information, thereby making it also easy for the operators to make quick decisions. Since the company’s operation processes, which the SCADA system is managing, are confidential, for security reasons, SCADA information are kept on closed LAN (Local Area Network) or WAN (Wide Area Network) networks to prevent sensitive data from being exposed to outsiders over the Internet.
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Since LAN is an expensive communication network, there is a support system provided by NetGuardian 832A which helps support the existing communication set up, such that this can be used at remotes sites instead of LAN. In the future, if the company expands their LAN network into their other remote sites, the cost will still be worth the expansion investment as there will be savings by the company on RTU replacements, which are usually employed to support the new network.

Although its functions/features are specified by a company, the following are the overall features and corresponding functions of the SCADA system: performs the work of an OPC Server or Protocol Translator, translate between any number of available protocols, includes a protocol analyzer, built in equation editor supports the creation of new data points based on raw data points and /or other equation points, OPC Certified, Conformance tested per DNP3 Intelligent Electronic Device (IED) Certification Procedure Subset Level2, report by Exception (RBE) is supported (transmitting only data changes, saving communication channel bandwidth), supports DNP3 Secure Authentication, supports selective logging of event data into a time-stamped Sequence of Events (SOE) log file, the Communication Protocol Analyzer Window displays and decodes transmitted and received messages, allows translation between data types and control methods from different protocols, supports mapping of points between Master and Slave, two Master, and/or two Slave protocol components.