You’ve been really busy lately; planning to design install and manage your own SCADA system. You've done all your homework, researched, endlessly read on the how to’s, precautions and potential disasters to avoid. You’re ready to invest your hard-earned money, and commit even more of your precious time into the next steps.
Now you've hired an experienced SCADA technician, and no doubt that person has insisted on getting rewarded for their extensive knowledge with a healthy salary, great benefits, sick days, vacations, holidays, bonuses and who doesn’t love some work perks?! After all, the education and loads of SCADA is surely a perfect fit for your needs. Let’s just hope you don’t catch that person staring bug-eyed at a manual or on with technical support on the second day at work; this is a true sign that your system's not getting designed or installed right. You'll waste all that time and money, and still not have your data when you need it, where you need it. If it won’t let you detect pump, flow or tank problems to limit downtime then it’s completely inadequate.
Your new tech person must’ve investigated all the communications needs—radio, cell or satellite communications – or all 3? As well as protocols, like Modbus , Profibus, ROC, BSAP, DF1 or DNP3, right? Good, because this alone requires quite an education—and the SCADA system is pointless if you can’t communicate with controllers or end devices. This is a very costly, and time-consuming process to learn as you go.
Don’t forget your security protocols. After all, you don’t want a competitor hacking into your system to steal, change or delete data. Don’t think it can happen? Neither did some of the big boys, who do have major security systems, like Target, Equifax and others. A friend of mine lives in a city where the municipal water department database was hacked recently. Are you getting the picture?
As important as all this is, here’s the real biggie: hosting the data.
This data is going to become your company’s life blood. Once you’re off the system of digging through file folders or searching through Excel files on 15 separate computers, you can never go back. The ease and convenience of having all the data in one database, searchable and reportable by multiple systems—it’s so efficient, you’ll quickly wonder how you ever did without it.
But—this only happens if your IT people (and that list of IT people you’ll need will keep growing) advise you on the right kind and capacity of server, and you spend a lot of money on the purchase, setup and continuous updates. They’ll have to properly install it and the software, connect it to the office system and the remote system, perform lots of maintenance—including nights, weekends and holidays because those are always exactly when problems come up—and of course, the real key; backup, backup, backup.
A few months ago there was a service company south of Midland, TX, whose office burned to the ground in thick clouds of toxic smoke. Thankfully no one was hurt. But, I don’t know how their SCADA system was handled, or if it, and its backup were onsite then they’re in a world of hurt. How will they do their billing? How will they ever access last month’s or last year’s data?
Next, how will you handle upgrades and staying on the cutting-edge of technology? By continuously spending a lot of money for new software versions or equipment expansion, then hoping the installation went well and that you can train your employees on the new features while they do their regular work?
You might be surprised at how many people our SCADA team talks to who’ve tried it this way, then wanted to run out of the office screaming, or worse yet; find out in a time of a data fail it was never built correctly and all their data is gone, or portions of it. The costs, the decisions, the added team members, the uncertainly, the security, the questions all for nothing and compete disappointment when push came to shove.
What’s the true cost of internal SCADA? It may just be your data. All of it. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe a few hundreds of thousands of dollars; several headaches and never really knowing if it’s done right (until it’s too late).
When it comes to SCADA it’s not an easy, do-it-yourself project that can be handled effectively in-house. Save yourself the time, questionable results and potential lost data. We’ve been doing this for a long time, we already know all the ins and outs of sensors, servers, software, security, upgrades and have the right team to keep it all top notch for you. Once you tell us what you currently have, and what you want to accomplish, we’ll get to work, handle it all for you and you can focus your attention to what matters most to you – your core business, knowing it’s done right, secure and always updated and supported.