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The technology options for creating a wireless connected SCADA network are vast. The intention of this site is to provide resources for those tasked with designing, maintaining or using a SCADA system that utilizes a RF based data communications network. FCC licensed, unlicensed and cellular technology will be discussed along with pros and cons of each. User owned SCADA radio networks require some initial design energy, and can afford the owner a very robust and exceptionally reliable communications network. Cellular based strategies have their place in the market too and weighing the pros and cons of each technology will allow the owner to make good business decisions.
User owned SCADA communications networks can achieve minimal down time measured in minutes per year vs. weeks after a severe weather event, power failures, cable cuts, etc. The user owned SCADA radio networks are completely controlled by the owner and their maintenance organization, Vs. Telco, cable, or cellular communications carriers. Proper planning and control of your spare parts program can make a return to service as simple as replacing a broken part. Tornados, hurricanes, fires, and power outages often cause cellular networks outages, as site backup power is usually a small number of minutes, cell sites rely on wired Telco to create the network connections that are required for operation. Commercial power availability is required for both wireless and wired connectivity as their (Telco & cellular) backup power access is typically minimal.
The industry standard for designing SCADA radio links (both FCC licensed and unlicensed) is the 20 dB of RF fade margin. This defines the additional signal that is designed into the radio link for each radio path to insure reliability. What the 20 dB fade margin really means is that there is 100 times more than the minimum amount of RF carrier signal needed to reliably operate the radio link to transport SCADA data on it. Decibels are logarithmic numbers and a little goes a long way to provide reliability.
There are countless SCADA radio networks throughout the United States and abroad monitoring and controlling municipal water and waster water, oil and gas production, power grids, automatic meter reading, and much more. These SCADA radio technology based communications systems have ranges from yards to hundreds of miles. Selecting the right technology, defining the projects requirements, and creating a robust SCADA communications network is crucial. Having a personal understanding of the pros and cons of each technology can empower the Engineer, Owner or Operator to make the best business decisions for a system that will have a 10-20 year lifetime and are often mission critical or high importance systems.
Please brows this site, if you have any questions or a specific project you would like to discuss, please feel free to call on me, Mark Lavallee. I truly enjoy sharing my 20+ years of specialized experience and knowledge. My company is often called upon assist consultants, controls system integrators, and occasionally with the end users directly. We are highly specialized with tools and talent for evaluating troubles with existing SCADA systems, selecting the best SCADA radio technology for new systems, and provide design of the RF paths, including infield radios studies.
phone number is 954-961-2642 or