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Knowing SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)

A centralized, computer monitoring and controlling system that is utilized for plant sites which are located at a long distance is referred to as SCADA system. The unique and complex software application of the SCADA system has been favored by many companies, such as water and waste control, energy, oil and gas refining, transportation, telecommunications industries, to automate their multifaceted processes and, at the same time, detect and correct problems, and measure projected trends. For SCADA system to monitor and control a company’s operating processes, it collects data and analyses them on a real-time basis.

Data acquisition, network data communication, data presentation, and control are the four main functions which the SCADA system is designed to perform. To be able to perform these functions, SCADA system is equipped with the following components: 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.

Control devices, such as RTUs or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), are either utilized by the SCADA system. Comparing the two devices, the RTUs 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. Since all pieces of data taken from the entire complex unit are collected by the HMI, operators can easily view the system alarms and information through the HMI and through that decisions are made based on the communicated readings. For security reasons, SCADA information are kept on closed LAN (Local Area Network) or WAN (Wide Area Network) networks in order to prevent any sensitive data from being exposed to outsiders over the Internet.
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By using NetGuardian 832A, which is another support network system, the company can save cost from using LAN, which is expensive, to all its sites. Later, if the company intends to expand their LAN network, the cost of investment on this will still be worth it due to the fact that there won’t be RTU replacements which are usually utilized to support a new network.

The following are the overview functions and features of the SCADA system, depending on what specific features a company desires to employ: 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.