There are countless ways to set up a SCADA system (supervisory control and data acquisition system), and many ways in which this setup can be made portable or remote, regardless of the complexity of the networked hardware. Vast manufacturing plants can be monitored from a central headquarters, or even while traveling. This is very useful for operations that necessitate multiple or remote sites. Where facilities used to have a team of people monitoring equipment, now there may only be one or two responsible individuals.
The Remote SCADA Structure
A remote SCADA operation works something like a bridge. On one side are the various sites that will be monitored. These may be off shore oil platforms, remote drilling, or refinery operations. At each site, controllers like PLCs will do the bulk of the real-time process control. At this juncture, an HMI (Human Machine Interface) or web HMI will exchange data with the controller, and will translate this data into valuable information for the remote SCADA system.
From here, the wireless SCADA or remote system can synchronize and display all the data, and then distribute it to remote users that have the proper authentication. That means that even though the structure of PLCs or DCS system is complex, a central SCADA system can bring everything together acting as a gateway. Software like the innovative InduSoft Web Studio allows users not only to monitor the process in one location, but in many. IWS will operate on laptops using Windows XP or Windows 7, servers using Windows Server Edition 2008 R2 or on smartphones using Windows CE. These remote devices can act as Thin Clients or run IWS directly.
How Remote SCADA Users Can Make Use of Thin Clients
The advantage of Thin Clients is that they allow users to access the SCADA information from any location with WiFi or web connection. This wireless SCADA capability is useful for many users, who can then use a laptop or mobile phone as a virtual control room.
Thin Client portals are convenient because users are not required to install the application, or license it. A SCADA browser that makes use of a standard web browser is used instead. Authentication will determine access. This form of remote SCADA and HMI through the use of portals allows users to focus on the available information, rather than local maintenance like installing the application and upgrading it.