Cloud based SCADA for plant automation

After so many years of working with SCADA packages, we are now able to extend them
to those who need the information, anywhere.

Glenn King, Owner & CEO

What does SCADA stand for?

The acronym SCADA stands for supervisory control and data acquisition. By the most strict terms, the SCADA is something that an operator uses to interact with their automation platform. The SCADA only allows the operator to make set point changes and requests to override the operations. programmable controllers, also known as PLCs, are the real brains of the operations. For many years, on-premise SCADA systems were necessary for all plants. This is because the cloud did not exist. Now, we have cloud based SCADA for plant automation.
Alerts are being sent via text message, voice call or laptop computer
Alerts can be sent via text message, voice call, or laptop computer
a screenshot of a cloud based alert history page
Cloud based alert history
Cloud based SCADA display of ground water treatment plant
Cloud based SCADA display of ground water treatment plant

Cloud based SCADA benefit to small municipalities

For a small to medium sized municipality, the expense of a full featured SCADA package is often not required. In many cases, they do not solve the real problem. Operators at small municipalities are spread thin; often they are the water, wastewater and streets department. Mid-sized municipalities operate 24/7 but no one is there during the night. Having a computer at a central location makes very little sense when no one is there. The amount of information that is needed to operate can be boiled down to a few key metrics. A cloud based solution allows the operator access to information from anywhere at any time. (see Case study-Replacing SCADA)

Integrating with your plant automation system with cloud solution

We integrate with legacy as well as the latest plant automation platforms, like Allen-Bradley or group Schneider programmable controllers to name a couple. Furthermore, we give you remote monitoring access and control of your current system while providing redundancy to your on premise SCADA solution. We also offer built-in features that many stand-alone SCADA systems do not, including a browser interface, manual data entry, notifications, and customized reporting. When coupled with partners that have subject matter expertise, like Fontus Blue, all users reap the benefits of their knowledge. 

Unlike remote connection solutions like VPN or remote PC control solutions, we do not require you to connect with an automation platform. Because of this, your system is less vulnerable. Furthermore, with Data-Command, your data is delivered directly to the cloud (see blog…), not only fully encrypted but also utilizing a proprietary protocol for additional security. Additionally, your control/OT network does not directly communicate with or connect to the internet. Because of this, our devices act as an additional firewall for your data. Since we send the information to the cloud, there is no need to make changes to your external firewall settings. 

What a cloud based solution can do for you

We have spent years educating municipalities on the benefits of adding a cloud based solution to their automation systems. There are certain features that cannot be cost effectively added to an on premise solution, but are easily provided through a cloud solution.

  • Once implemented, cloud based solutions require no special skills to maintain or enhance. Therefore, owners can save money by managing their own system. Most on premise solutions require a very special set of skills to not only implement, but also to maintain. This skill set often is provided by a local system integrator.
  • Adding information from 3rd party sources is natural. For example, these solutions can provide data from national weather sites, the EPA, the USGS, and more. Typically, for an on premise solution, this information is not part of the solution. To add it requires skill and specialized software development, ignoring the security requirements.
  • Cloud based solutions can offer internal communications between operations personnel and external communications to other municipalities through group messaging.
  • Manually entered data done through a cloud solution is much less cumbersome than an on premise solution. 
  • For an on premise solution, securely sharing information with other municipalities (see blog …) is hard to achieve. This is because of the hurdles required to implement security, user management, and system access. Besides, it comes with a cost. 
  • Many municipalities employ offsite data storage of historical data through the cloud. They use well-known backup companies, which comes with its own recurring cost. Some municipalities back up their historical data to other facilities. However, this raises costs in security configuration and monitoring.