SCADA Control System

SCADA control systems provide graphical representations of your machine, process or plant, Data logging, Trends, Alarm generation and Reporting to allow simplified management of your system and ultimately process improvement.

We have more than 20 years experience in providing these systems.  Our systems are able to be viewed locally or anywhere else on the planet utilising secure internet communications. Alarms can be sent via SMS or Email to mobile phones. 

As well as new systems we can upgrade or modify your existing control systems.

SCADA / HMI Control Systems. Need a programmer, give us a call!

Any Application, Any industry, Anywhere.

Automation & Controls or PLC / SCADA / HMI programming, with an extensive range of test equipment and software tools, I can help with

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  • Upgrades & changes
  • New systems
  • Sourcing or replacing obsolete or legacy equipment.

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    SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition. It generally refers to an industrial control system: a computer system monitoring and controlling a process. The process can be industrial, infrastructure or facility-based as described below:

    Industrial processes include those of manufacturing, production, power generation, fabrication, and refining, and may run in continuous, batch, repetitive, or discrete modes. Infrastructure processes may be public or private, and include water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power transmission and distribution, Wind Farms, civil defence siren systems, and large communication systems. Facility processes occur both in public facilities and private ones, including buildings, airports, ships, and space stations. They monitor and control HVAC, access, and energy consumption.

    Common system components

    A SCADA System usually consists of the following subsystems:

    Supervision vs. control

    There is, in several industries, considerable confusion over the differences between SCADA systems and distributed control systems (DCS). Generally speaking, a SCADA system usually refers to a system that coordinates, but does not control processes in real time. The discussion on real-time control is muddied somewhat by newer telecommunications technology, enabling reliable, low latency, high speed communications over wide areas. Most differences between SCADA and DCS are culturally determined and can usually be ignored. As communication infrastructures with higher capacity become available, the difference between SCADA and DCS will fade.

    The term SCADA usually refers to centralized systems which monitor and control entire sites, or complexes of systems spread out over large areas (anything between an industrial plant and a country). Most control actions are performed automatically by Remote Terminal Units ("RTUs") or by programmable logic controllers ("PLCs"). Host control functions are usually restricted to basic overriding or supervisory level intervention. For example, a PLC may control the flow of cooling water through part of an industrial process, but the SCADA system may allow operators to change the set points for the flow, and enable alarm conditions, such as loss of flow and high temperature, to be displayed and recorded. The feedback control loop passes through the RTU or PLC, while the SCADA system monitors the overall performance of the loop.

    Data acquisition begins at the RTU or PLC level and includes meter readings and equipment status reports that are communicated to SCADA as required. Data is then compiled and formatted in such a way that a control room operator using the HMI can make supervisory decisions to adjust or override normal RTU (PLC) controls. Data may also be fed to a Historian, often built on a commodity Database Management System, to allow trending and other analytical auditing.

    SCADA systems typically implement a distributed database, commonly referred to as a tag database, which contains data elements called tags or points. A point represents a single input or output value monitored or controlled by the system. Points can be either "hard" or "soft". A hard point represents an actual input or output within the system, while a soft point results from logic and math operations applied to other points. (Most implementations conceptually remove the distinction by making every property a "soft" point expression, which may, in the simplest case, equal a single hard point.) Points are normally stored as value-timestamp pairs: a value, and the timestamp when it was recorded or calculated. A series of value-timestamp pairs gives the history of that point. It's also common to store additional metadata with tags, such as the path to a field device or PLC register, design time comments, and alarm information.

    Human Machine Interface

    A Human-Machine Interface or HMI is the apparatus which presents process data to a human operator, and through which the human operator controls the process. An HMI is usually linked to the SCADA system's databases and software programs, to provide trending, diagnostic data, and management information such as scheduled maintenance procedures, logistic information, detailed schematics for a particular sensor or machine, and expert-system troubleshooting guides.

    The HMI system usually presents the information to the operating personnel graphically, in the form of a mimic diagram. This means that the operator can see a schematic representation of the plant being controlled. For example, a picture of a pump connected to a pipe can show the operator that the pump is running and how much fluid it is pumping through the pipe at the moment. The operator can then switch the pump off. The HMI software will show the flow rate of the fluid in the pipe decrease in real time. Mimic diagrams may consist of line graphics and schematic symbols to represent process elements, or may consist of digital photographs of the process equipment overlain with animated symbols.

    The HMI package for the SCADA system typically includes a drawing program that the operators or system maintenance personnel use to change the way these points are represented in the interface. These representations can be as simple as an on-screen traffic light, which represents the state of an actual traffic light in the field, or as complex as a multi-projector display representing the position of all of the elevators in a skyscraper or all of the trains on a railway.

    An important part of most SCADA implementations is alarm handling. The system monitors whether certain alarm conditions are satisfied, to determine when an alarm event has occurred. Once an alarm event has been detected, one or more actions are taken (such as the activation of one or more alarm indicators, and perhaps the generation of email or text messages so that management or remote SCADA operators are informed). In many cases, a SCADA operator may have to acknowledge the alarm event; this may deactivate some alarm indicators, whereas other indicators remain active until the alarm conditions are cleared. Alarm conditions can be explicit - for example, an alarm point is a digital status point that has either the value NORMAL or ALARM that is calculated by a formula based on the values in other analogue and digital points - or implicit: the SCADA system might automatically monitor whether the value in an analogue point lies outside high and low limit values associated with that point. Examples of alarm indicators include a siren, a pop-up box on a screen, or a coloured or flashing area on a screen (that might act in a similar way to the "fuel tank empty" light in a car); in each case, the role of the alarm indicator is to draw the operator's attention to the part of the system 'in alarm' so that appropriate action can be taken. In designing SCADA systems, care is needed in coping with a cascade of alarm events occurring in a short time, otherwise the underlying cause (which might not be the earliest event detected) may get lost in the noise. Unfortunately, when used as a noun, the word 'alarm' is used rather loosely in the industry; thus, depending on context it might mean an alarm point, an alarm indicator, or an alarm event.

    Hardware solutions

    SCADA solutions often have Distributed Control System (DCS) components. Use of "smart" RTUs or PLCs, which are capable of autonomously executing simple logic processes without involving the master computer, is increasing. A functional block programming language, IEC 61131-3 (Ladder Logic), is frequently used to create programs which run on these RTUs and PLCs. Unlike a procedural language such as the C programming language or FORTRAN, IEC 61131-3 has minimal training requirements by virtue of resembling historic physical control arrays. This allows SCADA system engineers to perform both the design and implementation of a program to be executed on an RTU or PLC. A Programmable automation controller (PAC) is a compact controller that combines the features and capabilities of a PC-based control system with that of a typical PLC. PACs are deployed in SCADA systems to provide RTU and PLC functions. In many electrical substation SCADA applications, "distributed RTUs" use information processors or station computers to communicate with protective relays, PACS, and other devices for I/O, and communicate with the SCADA master in lieu of a traditional RTU.

    Since about 1998, virtually all major PLC manufacturers have offered integrated HMI/SCADA systems, many of them using open and non-proprietary communications protocols. Numerous specialized third-party HMI/SCADA packages, offering built-in compatibility with most major PLCs, have also entered the market, allowing mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and technicians to configure HMIs themselves, without the need for a custom-made program written by a software developer.

    Remote Terminal Unit (RTU)

    The RTU connects to physical equipment. Typically, an RTU converts the electrical signals from the equipment to digital values such as the open/closed status from a switch or a valve, or measurements such as pressure, flow, voltage or current. By converting and sending these electrical signals out to equipment the RTU can control equipment, such as opening or closing a switch or a valve, or setting the speed of a pump.

    Supervisory Station

    The term "Supervisory Station" refers to the servers and software responsible for communicating with the field equipment (RTUs, PLCs, etc), and then to the HMI software running on workstations in the control room, or elsewhere. In smaller SCADA systems, the master station may be composed of a single PC. In larger SCADA systems, the master station may include multiple servers, distributed software applications, and disaster recovery sites. To increase the integrity of the system the multiple servers will often be configured in a dual-redundant or hot-standby formation providing continuous control and monitoring in the event of a server failure.

    Operational philosophy

    For some installations, the costs that would result from the control system failing are extremely high. Possibly even lives could be lost. Hardware for some SCADA systems is ruggedized to withstand temperature, vibration, and voltage extremes, but in most critical installations reliability is enhanced by having redundant hardware and communications channels, up to the point of having multiple fully equipped control centres. A failing part can be quickly identified and its functionality automatically taken over by backup hardware. A failed part can often be replaced without interrupting the process. The reliability of such systems can be calculated statistically and is stated as the mean time to failure, which is a variant of mean time between failures. The calculated mean time to failure of such high reliability systems can be on the order of centuries.

    Communication infrastructure and methods

    SCADA systems have traditionally used combinations of radio and direct serial or modem connections to meet communication requirements, although Ethernet and IP over SONET / SDH is also frequently used at large sites such as railways and power stations. The remote management or monitoring function of a SCADA system is often referred to as telemetry.

    This has also come under threat with some customers wanting SCADA data to travel over their pre-established corporate networks or to share the network with other applications. The legacy of the early low-bandwidth protocols remains, though. SCADA protocols are designed to be very compact and many are designed to send information to the master station only when the master station polls the RTU. Typical legacy SCADA protocols include Modbus RTU, RP-570, Profibus and Conitel. These communication protocols are all SCADA-vendor specific but are widely adopted and used. Standard protocols are IEC 60870-5-101 or 104, IEC 61850 and DNP3. These communication protocols are standardized and recognized by all major SCADA vendors. Many of these protocols now contain extensions to operate over TCP/IP. It is good security engineering practice to avoid connecting SCADA systems to the Internet so the attack surface is reduced.

    RTUs and other automatic controller devices were being developed before the advent of industry wide standards for interoperability. The result is that developers and their management created a multitude of control protocols. Among the larger vendors, there was also the incentive to create their own protocol to "lock in" their customer base. A list of automation protocols is being compiled here.

    Recently, OLE for Process Control (OPC) has become a widely accepted solution for intercommunicating different hardware and software, allowing communication even between devices originally not intended to be part of an industrial network.

    Trends in SCADA

    There is a trend for PLC and HMI/SCADA software to be more "mix-and-match". In the mid 1990s, the typical DAQ I/O manufacturer supplied equipment that communicated using proprietary protocols over a suitable-distance carrier like RS-485. End users who invested in a particular vendor's hardware solution often found themselves restricted to a limited choice of equipment when requirements changed (e.g. system expansions or performance improvement). To mitigate such problems, open communication protocols such as IEC IEC 60870-5-101 or 104, IEC 61850, DNP3 serial, and DNP3 LAN/WAN became increasingly popular among SCADA equipment manufacturers and solution providers alike. Open architecture SCADA systems enabled users to mix-and-match products from different vendors to develop solutions that were better than those that could be achieved when restricted to a single vendor's product offering.

    Towards the late 1990s, the shift towards open communications continued with individual I/O manufacturers as well, who adopted open message structures such as Modbus RTU and Modbus ASCII (originally both developed by Modicon) over RS-485. By 2000, most I/O makers offered completely open interfacing such as Modbus TCP over Ethernet and IP.

    The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has specified that electrical system data should be time-tagged to the nearest millisecond. Electrical system SCADA systems provide this Sequence of events recorder function, using Radio clocks to synchronize the RTU or distributed RTU clocks.

    SCADA systems are coming in line with standard networking technologies. Ethernet and TCP/IP based protocols are replacing the older proprietary standards. Although certain characteristics of frame-based network communication technology (determinism, synchronization, protocol selection, environment suitability) have restricted the adoption of Ethernet in a few specialized applications, the vast majority of markets have accepted Ethernet networks for HMI/SCADA.

    With the emergence of software as a service in the broader software industry, a few vendors have begun offering application specific SCADA systems hosted on remote platforms over the Internet. This removes the need to install and commission systems at the end-user's facility and takes advantage of security features already available in Internet technology, VPNs and SSL. Some concerns include security,[2] Internet connection reliability, and latency.

    SCADA systems are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Thin clients, web portals, and web based products are gaining popularity with most major vendors. The increased convenience of end users viewing their processes remotely introduces security considerations. While these considerations are already considered solved in other sectors of Internet services, not all entities responsible for deploying SCADA systems have understood the changes in accessibility and threat scope implicit in connecting a system to the Internet.






    PLC's Supported Include

    Allen Bradley
  • SLC500
  • SLC5/03
  • SLC5/04
  • SLC5/05
  • PLC5
  • Micrologix 1000
  • Micrologix 1100
  • Micrologix 1200
  • Micrologix 1400
  • Micrologix 1500
  • CompactLogix

  • Siemens
  • Simatic S7 - 200
  • Simatic S7 - 300
  • Logo

  • Mitsubishi
  • FX1S
  • FX1N
  • FX2N
  • FX3U
  • FX3UC
  • System Q
  • AnS
  • Alpha

  • Direct Logic / KOYO
  • DL05
  • DL06
  • DL105
  • DL205
  • DL305
  • DL405

  • Omron
  • CJ1M
  • CJ1G
  • CJ1H
  • CS1
  • CJ1
  • CQM1
  • CPM1
  • CPM2A
  • CPM2C
  • ZEN
  • C200

  • Schneider Telemecanique
  • Zelio
  • Twido
  • TSX Micro
  • TSX Nano
  • Premium

  • Software Tools Available Include

    Allen Bradley
  • AB RSLogix5
  • AB RSLogix500
  • AB RSLogix5000

  • KOYO Direct Logic
  • Direct Soft 5
  • Omron
  • Omron Syswin
  • Omron CX One
  • Omron CX Programmer

  • PL7
  • TwidoSuite
  • Zeliosoft

  • Seimens S7
  • Mitsubishi Medoc
  • Mitsubishi GX Developer