7 Tips to Make the Right SCADA Choice

The investment in your SCADA system and software should not be taken lightly. Here are seven tips to help you make the right choice.

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Not all SCADA systems are created equal. As the brain of your automated operations, the right SCADA system can ease communication with RTUs and PLCs, today and tomorrow.

In a session Tuesday morning at Schneider Electric’s 2015 Wonderware Conference in Dallas, John Krajewski will discuss how to take advantage of the latest technology and trends for HMI/SCADA (HMI SCADA-02, Sept. 22, 9:30 a.m.).

As somewhat of a preview, here are seven guidelines from Schneider Electric to help you make the right SCADA choice.

1. It should communicate easily with your existing hardware. Many SCADA systems offer only OPC connectivity. But given that the vast majority of industrial operations use a mix of old and new hardware from several different vendors, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that your older equipment doesn’t support OPC. If you don’t ensure that the SCADA package offers a variety of native drivers, you could end up having to find the necessary drivers yourself for your legacy systems, or buy an expensive OPC wrapper.

2. It should support your needs for today and in the future. Unlimited I/O licensing can help you scale for future production growth, as long as your industrial system is built to handle it. Make sure the SCADA system has been thoroughly tested to handle a large number of I/O points to avoid slow response times and other problems caused by a SCADA system not designed for such use.

3. SCADA software should be a low-risk investment. Software that’s a low-risk investment does not mean simply software this is lower-priced. The initial cost of your SCADA hardware is just a small percentage of the lifetime cost of the equipment, and having throwaway software does not further that investment. Be sure to select a SCADA system with large graphic libraries, customizable reports, and a familiar programming language.

4. Support must be available when and where you need it. If a SCADA system goes down, the consequences can be serious, ranging from lost data that can affect regulatory compliance to unscheduled downtime that impacts customers. It’s important to pick a SCADA vendor that will provide support when and where you need it. You will also want to make sure there’s a large network of system integrators certified to provide regular training and coursework.

5. Your SCADA supplier must continue to be in business. With such an important investment as a SCADA system, you want a supplier that will be in business for as long as you are. Another consideration is the provider’s experience in your industry. You don’t just need someone to install the system; you need someone who understands your industry’s particular needs.

6. Upgrades should be simple. SCADA systems must be able to adapt to changing requirements and technologies, and backwards compatibility is key. Make sure your vendor offers a long history of 100 percent backwards compatibility to make upgrades easy and preclude you from having an orphaned solution.

7. Security is critical. There have been many instances of SCADA systems being comprised by intrusions, either from the Internet or internal sources. With the mission-critical nature of a SCADA system, protecting it from unauthorized users and hackers is vital. The vendor’s commitment to security is a big factor in safeguarding your system.

For more details about how best to meet your SCADA requirements, read “7 Tips for Selecting the Right SCADA System for Your Needs.

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