The deployment of SCADA applications can be challenging and costly, if the purchaser fails to conduct correct research beforehand.
The deployment of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) applications can be challenging and costly if the purchaser fails to conduct correct research beforehand. Sierra Wireless has developed a ten-step “things to consider” for purchasers looking to buy gateways for their SCADA systems.
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These systems are typically located in remote areas of the world, which are difficult to constantly power and access. Oil and gas pipelines, wind farms and wastewater collection all utilize SCADA to remotely monitor and manage the system.
Due to the remoteness, gateways need to be close to self-sufficient. Power consumption should be no more than 1W in idle mode, and if possible should be connected to a low-cost solar panel, to avoid blackouts. Additional safety measures, such as cranking and dump protection, help the gateway avoid disruption during variations in voltage.
Externally, the gateway needs to be able to withstand the toughest of conditions. Industrial strength casing with rugged hardware should ensure that the unit does not crash during extreme weather. Be sure to look for certifications, like MIL-STD 810G, IP64, SAE J1455 and E-Mark. The unit provider should also mention what temperatures the gateway can survive; it should remain fully functional between -30 to +70 °C.
Management of the gateway from a central location is critical for SCADA applications, as it may involve thousands of devices operating across a massive area. Being able to communicate with legacy equipment is crucial for businesses that want to connect the gateway to an existing network, and the purchaser should conduct research beforehand to make sure the gateway is compatible.
Gateways come in all shapes and sizes, so the purchaser needs to be aware of how much space they have and if they can accommodate all the equipment. Features like rugged mountings, DIN rail mounting options and corner-aspect LEDs can simplify the installation but may increase the size.
With the gateway potentially connecting to thousands of devices across a wide area, the networking standards and providers may change. AT&T and Verizon are the two largest cellular carriers and use different configurations. Some devices will support both standards, some will not. For gateways operating outside of the U.S., dual-SIM failover is an excellent way to avoid cellular blackouts.
Some operations may require data to be handled at the edge. If this is the case, make sure that the gateway can handle custom applications, with a programmable framework.