A beginner’s guide to understanding what SCADA is and how SCADA can benefit your operations.
Oil & Gas SCADA Defined
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a control system that combines software and hardware components for the purpose of collecting, monitoring, and ingesting data in real time. Industrial plants use SCADA to remotely control industrial processes and record events. Human-interface machine (HMI) software is leveraged to interact with devices, such as wells, pumps, valves, sensors, etc.
Modern oil and gas SCADA systems enable facility operators to manage equipment efficiently by utilizing actionable data. With modern SCADA solutions, the benefits result in massive savings.
Operators can take action on the data presented, which helps mitigate equipment failures or downtime. Oil and gas operators can also manage hundreds of assets without having to physically visit every device in the field.
The user interface allows operators to remotely monitor vital measurements like power usage, temperature, tank levels, pressures, etc. SCADA systems can promptly notify an operator when there is a problem that affects production. After being notified, an operator can view the SCADA system data. Some SCADA systems are intuitive and provide diagnostics. Once the operator reviews the data or the diagnostics, the issue can be resolved.
Four Major Layers of SCADA for Oil and Gas
There are four major elements of SCADA: (1) field instrumentation, (2) communications network, (3) HMI software, and (4) RTUs/PLCs.
Field Instrumentation: Field instrumentation performs the task of acquiring data. These sensors and control relays are where SCADA begins. Examples of field instrumentation include pressure gauges, pressure sensors, relays, level switches, flow meters, etc.
Communications Network: A variety of communication protocols are executed to establish a communication infrastructure. Connectivity can be wired or wireless, such as radio, cellular, and satellite. In remote sites, a communications network connects telemetry and SCADA. Ethernet is one of the most common technologies used in communications.
Human-Interface Machine (HMI) Software: The SCADA host platform provides facility operators with the most value-add. Field data is used to provide critical data insights, and orders can be sent via the PLCs & RTUs.
RTUs and PLCs: Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and remote terminal units (RTUs) connect to field instrumentation. These microcomputers communicate with objects, such as devices, sensors, HMIs, wells, etc. This allows the devices to collect real-time data and execute commands. The RTUs and PLCs push the data to the SCADA software. The SCADA software displays, disperses, and transforms the data into a quickly digestible format. This empowers operators to make informed decisions that impact production and downtime.
What Other Industries SCADA to Monitor & Control Their Operations?
The most common types of organizations that use SCADA are oil and gas operators within the oil and gas industry, water management facilities, and manufacturing facilities. These types of facilities give top priority to technology, safety, and scalability.
In industrial settings, like manufacturing plants or industrial facilities, operators leverage SCADA platforms to automate tasks that are typically performed manually. Utility companies use SCADA to secure infrastructure. SCADA is essential to monitor and control power grids and water supply lines.
Additional industries that utilize SCADA systems include: food and beverage, logistics, manufacturing, power utilities, recycling, and transportation.
How Does SCADA Improve Oil and Gas Operations?
SCADA systems empower operators with the ability to track production and deploy preventative maintenance. Improve operations with SCADA by reducing downtime, improving processes, reducing costs, integrating reporting, and providing remote control anytime from anywhere.
Reduce downtime: SCADA provides operators with tools to work out equipment failures in a timely manner. Modern SCADA applications utilize alarm management with built-in diagnostic tools. Additionally, HMI screens supply operators with historical trend data. This helps operators make quick decisions based on data.
Improve policies and procedures: Unplanned downtime negatively affects an operator’s bottom line. Using SCADA, operators can identify inefficient processes and any equipment problems prior to a massive impact to the bottom line.
Reduce costs: SCADA systems provide real-time data, such as pump run times, flow data, etc. Using meaningful data insights, operators can optimize efficiency and reduce overhead and operational costs.
Integrate reporting: Using modern SCADA solutions, operators may utilize canned reports or create custom reports. From the user-friendly HMI, users may display, download, and schedule report distribution.
Remote control anytime and anywhere: Cloud-based SCADA systems provide operational visibility and control. Mobile applications allow managers or stakeholders to view the status of assets and set controls without having to make an on-site visit.