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Smoothing the way for SCADA replacement projects

By listening to numerous companies in the energy industry, we’ve learnt there is one project they are reluctant to start: replacing their SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system. Companies consider this one of their most arduous and time consuming projects. We want to significantly improve matters through a SCADA lifecycle management service. We believe such a service will take away the pain of SCADA system upgrades. It will make the whole process smoother, easier and far quicker, and help companies maximise the new system’s benefits.

So why is a SCADA upgrade such a challenge? To begin with, it’s currently a very long process. Replacing a SCADA system can take some two to three years or even more. Additionally, we see the time between replacement projects getting shorter. This is mainly due to decreasing support times for systems, rapidly changing business requirements, and an increasing need for SCADA systems to provide utilities with KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Now, instead of perhaps 15 years between projects in the past, there is less than a 10 year respite.

Out-dated system and configuration data

Now, why does replacing or updating a SCADA system take so long? There are many reasons, but one of the most fundamental is lack of good system and configuration data. As the years go by, system documentation gets further out of date and well described migration data for the new system may not be readily available.

Any changes made to the system should be fully described and properly maintained – it’s vital to document everything, including patches and updates. However in practice, operational issues are solved under time pressure, which doesn’t allow time for system documentation. Moreover, information about the system is very dependent on the system developer. If they are no longer around to ask, any issues can be very difficult to figure out unless proper documentation has been kept.

Of course there are many other factors contributing to the effort required during a SCADA changeover. We take a deeper look into the reasons in our white paper.

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How to speed up a SCADA replacement

Our service improves system efficiency and effectiveness, and makes the replacement process much quicker. It will also improve change readiness, so companies are better prepared for maintenance, updates and future system replacement.

One aim is to help companies capture system documentation in preparation for a complete digital migration to a new system. Our ‘SCADA lifecycle management’ service has the potential to deliver a major return on investment. Quite simply because testing the new system is easier and quicker. A fully digital migration means that testing can be done by sampling, while a manual migration needs full end-to-end testing. For example, we estimate it could reduce an end-to-end test normally taking up to six months to only one month.

Share your experience

We want to hear about your experiences when replacing your SCADA system. Do you have bad memories of the project? Or are you currently going through an upgrade? If so, what problems are you encountering? Then again perhaps you are going to start replacing your SCADA system in the near future, and are already in the planning stage. How have you prepared for any future challenges?

We would like to get your feedback on our proposed service. Share your experience, and tell us whether you would find our SCADA lifecycle management service useful. Read our white paper to discover more about our assessment of the industry’s need for such a service, and the benefits it can bring.

 

Ivo Kuijlaars MSc MMC
Principal Consultant
Intelligent Networks & Communication
Ivo.kuijlaars@dnvgl.com

1 Comments Add your comment
Avatar Raúl Pastor says:

Replacement SCADA can be a great action while following systems engineering best practices and risk based and asset management approaches.

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