Building the Best SCADA System User & Customer Experience

See why eLynx is obsessed with user experience and learn about 9 recent user experience innovations

Scott Haven
November 14, 2019

A SCADA system will only be valuable if there is widespread adoption within an oil and gas company. While this seems like an obvious statement, even the most basic of SCADA systems requires a complex interaction of people, devices, interfaces, and technical features. There are a lot of moving parts to any industrial processes or industrial automation that uses a computer system to process data. This equates to a lot of points along an oil and gas company’s user journey that have to be understood and designed so people in various roles are able to use it to run their operation better. The quality of the user experience is often the difference between SCADA software that makes a business impact and one that causes frustration and consequently limits use. 

Even a user experience that appears small and inconsequential, like “logging in”, if cumbersome and slow will keep people from accessing and inputting SCADA data in a timely manner. Some will stop bothering to try. Think of all the innovation that has gone into the “sign on” technology on our mobile phones. From touch ID to facial recognition, hardware and software companies continue to innovate this experience so the first step to using our phones is made as easy and fast as possible. Similarly, even the smallest things can and do cause big problems for people using a SCADA application. 

For over 20 years, eLynx has been a user-centered SCADA innovator focused primarily on serving oil and gas companies, especially upstream and midstream organizations. We are constantly learning what works well and what is getting in the way of executives, managers, engineers, and operators using SCADA software to improve their operations and save money. Staying as close as possible to customers helps us discover the problems they most want solved. When we innovate, we also learn how well we have solved them and will continue to refine and perfect our offering. Sometimes improving something super small, like part of a user interface or streamlining an interaction, makes all the difference in how useful and usable a feature is. 

Naturally, oil and gas companies who are interested in a SCADA system want to hear from us what makes eLynx different and better than other options. We tell them that one of the most important things that sets us apart -- and becomes hard for any competitor to copy -- is this absolute focus on the user experience and our ability to rapidly and constantly improve it. And when we talk about user experience we mean everything from beginning to end, including such things as our business terms and conditions, how we set up and install our system on site, how you interact with our system, what happens when you need help, and so on. For those who are not yet eLynx customers, we wanted to highlight a few of the user experience innovations that show our dedication and range and inform you of some of our recent innovations and some that will launch soon. 

1. We ensure you have high quality data to make good decisions

All too often we work with new customers that have inaccurate or poor data quality.  This usually leads to poor decision making and ignored notifications.  We can help organize and clean production data for our customers so that they can use it to ensure their operators are getting useful alarms and notifications that they can act on.  We can also help to ensure that accounting and key business decisions are back by high quality, trusted data.

2. Keep all of your data in one place

We have worked with many customers who have simply accepted that they must use multiple different tools and systems to get all the data they need to manage their business and operations.  We believe that this is not the optimal user experience and have developed tools and features to centralize much of the disparate and siloed information such as field notes, field data capture, and pipeline data.  This ensures that the data you need to make strategic and smart operational decisions is all in one place, easily relatable, and accessible by the right people.

3. Our customer support is local, knowledgeable, and responsive

SCADA solutions are inherently complex. You will have questions or need to troubleshoot at some point. Our support team is based in the United States and all of them have a great deal of technical experience working in the oil field. They also know eLynx better than anyone. When you contact them, you won’t have to spend time trying to reach the right person, won’t have to wait for someone to get back to you later, and you will be able to immediately get the help you need. Our support team is praised by our customers for being incredibly responsive problem solvers. We focus so much on this aspect of our user experience because it makes a difference in how much non-productive time you have and the impact you will achieve by using eLynx SCADA. The proliferation of M&A activity with the oil and gas industry requires operators to frequently merge different SCADA systems. Our mapping lives a layer above other SCADA systems, making the transition of integrating systems simpler.

4. Our team gets new installations up and running in a matter of days

We have the ability to rapidly deploy eLynx SCADA programs for any sort of oil and gas operation anywhere in the United States. eLynx is purposefully nimble so that we can respond quickly to needs. Responsiveness is something we have built into a wide range of our user experiences. With eLynx, your company will begin to reap the benefits of SCADA as soon as possible. 

5. We developed the most used mobile phone app in oil and gas 

Information and data are only as good as people’s ability to access these when and where they need it. eLynx saw that the mobile phone was becoming a key device for in-the-moment decision making in everyday life and in the business world. We designed it to be intuitive like the best mobile apps today but also customizable so you can see the views that are most important to you and receive the proper notifications when your attention is required. This required our talented software team to design a user experience that, if done well, would increase the number of SCADA users in a company and how much they used it to impact the business. The eLynx mobile app is now the most used in the industry, with over 800 active users logging in on a regular basis, which means our customers are finding more opportunities to increase production and decrease costs. 

6. We make it easy to take control of and manage your SCADA system without extra help

We learned that our customers wanted more control and flexibility to add to and adjust their SCADA system as they saw fit. They wanted to be able to do this without needing to call for help each time and also to manage their SCADA system based on how they wanted it to work for their operation. To meet this demand, we are creating self-service features that allow customers to change the polling frequency, modify registers, and manage their tank batteries. Next year, even more self-service items will be developed, such as adding devices. We’ve taken inflexibility out of our system and put our customers in control. This saves them time and trouble. 

7. We push out new updates, features, and enhancements every two weeks

When you use eLynx, you are never getting a SCADA system that stands still. We are constantly learning what would improve the experience and usefulness of our product from our customers. Our team is always at work improving our offering and our customers benefit from new updates every two weeks. This means your SCADA software will only get better and more useful. We embrace the agile approach to software development because it prioritizes user needs and focuses our team on delivering solutions that will make the biggest difference for them as quickly as possible.

8. Spend less time managing data and more time using it with our integration layers and APIs

Your data is only as good as your ability to examine it in many different ways. eLynx makes it easy to pull together data from different systems and places so you can spend more time finding patterns and insights in the tools that you know best. We built connectors that feed some of the most prominent data visualization tools such as Spotfire and Tableau. We also built a more universal API that will be able to connect to just about any third party APIs. We want our customers to spend as little time managing data and as much time as possible analyzing it to spot problems and opportunities faster.

9. We are solving alarm fatigue by developing better dashboards, visual reports, and a rules engine

One of the most common user problems we encounter is alarm fatigue. With a large amount of data being produced each day, it has become harder instead of easier to understand what the biggest opportunities are in the field. With so many alarms sounding, operation teams are not finding it easy to discern the most important problems to solve that could save them the most money.

We have set out to solve this in ways that make it easier to spot the signal in all the noise. This includes creating dashboards and specialized reports that help engineers and operators more quickly understand which alarms matter and why they matter more at a particular time. 

One of the most innovative new product features we are developing is our rules engine that allows users to string together a series of threshold conditions for multiple variables that must occur before an alarm activates. Our rules engine allows customers to truly identify what specific type of event is occurring and immediately take remedial actions to head it off before it costs more downtime and labor to fix. Because alarm fatigue is one of the biggest user challenges, we are innovating as fast as possible with a range of helpful user experiences. 

Conclusion: Our biggest advantage in creating better SCADA software user experiences is our people and their experience in oil and gas

eLynx is a technical company staffed with technical people who all have first-hand experience in oil and gas operations and SCADA software. We hire production engineers and operators to staff our product development team so we always have their perspectives and experiences to draw upon when we decide which problems to go after and develop solutions for these. We also work closely with our customers and are constantly learning what their biggest problems are. 

Our team also has the personnel and skills of a leading-edge product development company. We develop and deliver innovation that matters. There is no part of the user experience that we are not equipped to improve. 

We invite you to compare us with any competitor when you are searching for a SCADA software system. Pay attention to the small and big user experiences when you evaluate your options. Then ask yourself, “Which one would more of my people use more often?” Because if it doesn’t get used as much as it should by the right people at the right time, it won’t improve your operation or your bottom line.

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Scott Haven
Scott Haven became Chief Business Development Officer shortly after joining eLynx’s product team in 2018. Scott focuses on designing and driving the entire customer experience at eLynx.

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