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Introduction to SCADA

Introduction to SCADA

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Published by Hany Kheir
Introduction to SCADA: introduction, components of a SCADA system, keyboard essential functions, essential displayed information, database control tool, screen builder, programming facility, shell-like application, how a SCADA works? and tasks of a SCADA.
Introduction to SCADA: introduction, components of a SCADA system, keyboard essential functions, essential displayed information, database control tool, screen builder, programming facility, shell-like application, how a SCADA works? and tasks of a SCADA.

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Published by: Hany Kheir on Apr 10, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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An introduction to SCADA
Introduction: distribution system automation is built on 5 pillars which are computerprogramming, computer aided design & drafting (CADD), system supervisory & dataacquisition systems (SCADA), local networks including LAN & WAN and geographicinformation systems (GIS) including global positioning system (GPS) software & receivers. Inthis article an introduction to SCADA systems will be presented. The main purposes for the useof a SCADA system would be to collect the needed data from remote sites and even the localsite, displaying them on the monitor of the master computer in the control room, storing theappropriate data to the hard drive of the master computer and allowing the control of fielddevices (remote or local) from the control room. Such systems are used in various fields andindustries to monitor and control the operation and/or process of the plant. They are used tocontrol lighting, elevators, HVAC (heating ventilation & air condition) and other loads found incommercial & institutional buildings. They are,also, used to automate industrial, chemical &petrochemical plants as well as the food processing factories, pulp & paper mills,pharmaceutical, plastics/rubber and primary metals plants. They are applied in the utilities fieldto monitor & control the water treatment & supply systems, the sewage treatment plants and theelectrical power systems including the generation, transmission & distribution of electricalpower. In general, the information & conditions required from the field devices can be classifiedinto either digital (discrete) or analog (continuous) ones. Such data is collected and reported bythe RTU (remote terminal unit) to the master computer in the control room through thecommunication link. The (remote) devices in the field that are to be controlled by the operatorfrom the control room can be classified into continuous or on/off (discrete) control. SCADAsystems vary widely from one supplier to the other. A few years ago, each system has itsproprietary network & communication protocol that allowed the different devices tocommunicate with each other. The field devices used to communicate over the network to themaster computer. When additional equipment had to be added to the network, they had to be ableto communicate using the existing network & protocol, thus limiting the user choices.Nowadays, the trend is going towards open communication systems. Though the productsavailable can handle/support more than one communication protocol, the communicationprotocol is becoming more standardized even the Internet protocol (TCP/IP) is used ininformation, data & commands passing from one device to another.Components of a SCADA system: a typical SCADA system will have 5 major componentswhich are the master computer, the software, the RTUs, the communication link and thetransducers.
The master computer:
it is the hardware at the control station (room). Basically, it comprises of the personal computer (PC) complete with the attached peripheral (connected) devices includingthe monitor, the printers, data loggers & mimic panel (having lamp & analog outputs) that allowsthe operator to monitor & control the field data & distributed devices/equipment over the plantor city. The PC serial port is connected to a suitable modem (system box) for communicationwith the field RTUs. The PC will have the appropriate operating system (the platform which theSCADA software is going to run under), the microprocessor, the hard disk, the floppy disk drive,the CD-ROM drive, the memory (RAM), the graphical adapter, support for multi-screen adapterboards and logical input/output for pen recorders, mimic panel,..etc.
Keyboard essential functions: the key board can be divided into 4 sections:1) Alphanumeric keypad that is used to enter text & numbers by the operator.2) Editing keypad which includes the the cursor control keys and certain user-defined functions.3) Auxiliary keypad which includes the user defined function keys that would reference the mostimportant pictures in the system.4) Top row function keys which includes the system special functions and more user-definedfunctions.The keys of the key board will offer as a minimum the following functionality to the operator:recalling previous selected pictures (the pictures of the system or plant built using the screenbuilder facility provided with the SCADA to model the existing user system/plant, more aboutthis topic in Software section later), selecting the next picture, selecting an object or screentarget, preparing system for data input, verifying the data input, removing entry from alarm list,switching command, controlling remote devices, acknowledging an alarm, canceling incorrectinput sequence, executing a control sequence, selecting system picture, selecting telemetrydevice picture, selecting hardware configuration screen (picture), selecting profile picture for anobject, selecting index picture used for selecting screens & reports, selecting the chronologicalalarm list.Essential displayed information (on the monitor): the pictures (screens) are displayed in textand/or graphics mode, the display will have the following minimal instructions/information:1) Data & time, title of screen & page number.2) The next input steps the operator is allowed to make.3) The last alarm in the system.4) The operators input part plus the part of the screen that displays the error message if theoperator enters wrong values or illegal sequences.5) The process/data of the selected zone of the modeled system.The software: it includes the following operator's tools: database organization, the screen(picture) builder, programming facility and a shell-like application.The data base control tool: the real time database contains all system data. There are 3 distinctmodels of data base management systems. They are the hierarchical, the network & therelational models. The first 2 are quite complex in the sense that they rely on the use of permanent internal pointers to relate records to each other. The process of inserting (entering),updating & deleting records using these types of databases requires synchronization of thepointers (a task that must be performed by the application). Relational databases rely on theactual attribute values as opposed to internal pointers to link records. Using a common attributefrom each record, the linking of records is achieved. A RDBMS stores data like a collection of tables. As mentioned, common fields in different tables allow linking the tables together.Because of its simplicity & flexibility, RDBMS found a wide use in the different applicationsincluding the SCADA. Access to the data base to allow the operator to manipulate the datastored may be achieved through the ability to write to the database, to read from the database, tospecial write to data base and to read from data base with conversion to another data format.Screen (picture) builder: it allows the user/designer to construct the different screens (mimics)that represent the different zones of the plant/system. Each screen will have the different objects(elements) that has to be monitored (polled) and controlled. Each of the elements will display thestatus and/or relevant attributes that need to be verified by the operator. It is used to graphically
develop new mimics (pictures), add/delete/save new pictures, define mimic background, importother graphics files, create & save in a user defined symbol library graphical objects (elements)plus other functions as required to build screens (pictures).Programming facility: it is provided to fulfil the user's special requirements. This provisionshould allow the user to add to the functionality of his/her interface, manipulate files, performcomplex mathematical & string operations and to construct simple control sequences usinglogical decisions. It may, also, be used in conjunction with event driven, cyclic or scheduledactions to further increase the capability of the application.Shell-like application: it is used to manage the display of the windows having the pictures,trends, elements (objects) properties & tables and other applications within the Workstationenvironment. It allows the user to control the position and location of the opened windows in agraphical environment. It may also provide the provision for the operator to build custom menus.
The remote terminal units:
they are the devices that accept digital, analog and counter inputs andprovide digital and analog output. The inputs to the RTU are the indications/status (digital-on/off, closed/tripped,..etc), the values (analog-measurands & levels) and pulses of the fielddevices i.e. the information to be monitored and reported to the master computer. To effectcontrol on the remote devices, the analog & discrete output of the RTU are connected to thepertinent devices/equipment. Discrete output is used to drive an external relay, to operate acircuit breaker (closing it or tripping it), dropping a section of the feeder by opening a polemounted switch or a a pad-mounted switchgear switch, to disconnect a service, to switch off amotor and other similar applications. Analog output are used to remotely control devices thatrequires an increment adjustment or a variable set point for example opening/closing a valve,controlling a tap changer,...etc. If the RTU is intelligent, it can be programmed to make certaindecisions instead of sending the information to the master computer and wait for the instructionto come back. Such devices could be considered as upgraded to the controller level. The RTUrequires a power supply, has several interfaces & multiple ports with the protocol selectable on aper-port basis. The RTU may also have a microprocessor, RAM, real time clock, watchdogtimer, LED indicators, internal diagnostics routines, fiberoptic interface and an internal (built-in)modem.
The communication link:
it can be any or a combination of any of the following: leased lines,dial up lines, cellular circuits or VHF-UHF radio. Leased lines are reliable & require less initialinvestment in equipment. It is used when data polled from the remote sites is required at thecontrol station continuously in real time. The dial up lines are used when the information at theremote sites are required less often. The investment in equipment is low. The modems used arethe same as those used with personal computers. The cellular circuits are similar to the dial-upexcept special modems & telephones are required at the remote sites (to be connected to theRTUs). VHF-UHF radio requires a transmitter-receiver & antenna for each site. Distances arelimited to line-of-site from antenna to antenna. Repeaters may be required depending on therange and the attenuation level. The range is function of RF power (2 to 5 watts for narrow band& 1 watt for spread spectrum), the receiver sensitivity, the frequency selected. The 3 frequencyranges (bands) are 150 to 170 MHZ (VHF), 450 to 470 MHZ (UHF) & the 900 MHZ. The areaof coverage varies due to terrain, antenna height, frequency band & vegetation. The spreadspectrum uses one of three methods to spread the data signal: slow hoppers (frequency hopping),fast frequency hoppers and direct sequence.

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