SCADA Systems: For Process Security And Optimisation

Businesses across the planet are quickly realising that supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems can help to improve processes through enhanced control and monitoring.

One sector which relies on smooth processes and also requires strong security is the energy industry, with companies often having tremendous responsibilities to ensure safety.

One such firm is R&M Energy Systems, which is responsible for designing, manufacturing and servicing closures and valves for vessel manufacturers and pipeline construction companies, and it recently confirmed the implementation of a SCADA system to boost its processes.

R&M, which is based near Houston, Texas, is one of the leading providers of closures, valves, drilling components and artificial lift systems for the global oil and gas industry and recently revealed that it has chosen Stratos Global to carry out the work.

Deployment of the new Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) SCADA development expanded last month to include all of R&M's key operating regions, with network deployment expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year, and new deployments coming online as required.

As BGAN uses small, lightweight terminals to provide simultaneous, high-speed IP data and voice connectivity anywhere in the world, the company said it seemed like a perfect fit.

The custom-designed network utilises BGAN satellite terminals to reliably transmit operational data from oil pumps and other mission-critical equipment in remote areas which are not accessible though R&M's traditional monitoring infrastructure.

The BGAN Scada network is fully integrated with R&M's control and monitoring platform, and provides IP connectivity to field equipment via the internet or a private VPN network.

In the future, R&M plans to include monitoring automated choke valves and other active and passive equipment, as in the past its customers did not have the ability or capacity to capture and present operational data from this equipment in a cost-effective fashion.

As a manufacturer of pumping equipment for oil and gas, industrial and municipal markets, the company said it is important to provide its customers with a single, integrated solution that is supported by the pump manufacturer.

Safety is the key for R&M, as it is with any organisation in the oil and gas sector, and so it required a SCADA system with enhanced protection and minimal risk of compromise.

R&M product champion for automation and control Michael Smith commented: "The ability to provide our customers with these remote monitoring and control capabilities is extremely valuable. It enables them to allocate limited resources to address the most critical issues first.

"Having up-to-the minute telemetry on equipment and remote diagnostics allows our customers to dispatch the right equipment and personnel to resolve problems as quickly as possible."

Mr Smith added that the SCADA service will allow the firm to benefit from a single-source, universal solution that works anywhere and is easy to use, and also eliminates the need to engage multiple local providers across many regions.

The BGAN Scada network relies on Stratos Dashboard to enable optimal network productivity and affordability by providing real-time traffic reports, cost control and online provisioning for new terminals.

Jim Parm, president and chief executive of Stratos, said the service is an ideal remote-connectivity solution for some of the world's leading energy services companies.

"This latest deployment strengthens our position as the preferred provider of creative SCADA solutions to support the demanding global networking requirements of many of the world's most important markets - including upstream oil and gas, utilities, mining, water management and tower monitoring," he explained.

The move highlights how SCADA adoption is expanding across a number of sectors as companies realise that the systems can bring about both time and cost efficiencies.

With security at the forefront of industry leaders' minds, it is increasingly becoming a challenge to bolster protection, and so ensuring these systems are up to date is likely to remain a key topic for some time to come.