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SCADA: System Features & Installation

Control Features

SCADA has now become the most prevalent measurement and control system in any industry. The central host is the Master Terminal Unit (MTU) and the data collection and control units are the remote stations more popularly known as RTU (Remote Terminal Unit). Remote data are controlled by customs software. The control features of a modern SCADA system are mainly open-loop using long-distance communication though with occasional short-distance communication elements.

Distributed Control Systems (DCS)

These systems similar to SCADA find routine use in treatment plants and factories. While DCS functions almost like SCADA system, unlike SCADA the distribution of field data collection and control units are more confined in area for DCS. Reliable and high speed communication is normally available via LAN. Using close-loop control in significant amount is the basic feature of a DCS system. SCADA on the other hand provides wider geographic coverage and depends on different communication systems which are usually not as dependable as LAN. Open loop controls are more suited to this kind of scenario.


Compulsion of budget, logistics and various other reasons make many organizations install their SCADA system spreading over a period of time. Often integration of SCADA systems is required when different discrete SCADA systems are delivered as a result of competitive tenders from multiple vendors. Use of proprietary hardware/software/communication protocols in SCADA may pose a serious problem in such scenario. Standards for the RTU for SCADA telemetry applications are required to be specified to solve this problem. RTU hardware and software need to be provided with standard specifications. This enables the RTU for applications ranging from small systems to distributed networks of large scale like interface with SCADA networks. Use of IEC1131-3 programming language makes RTU programmable. The communication protocol normally used by RTU is DNP 3.0. For attaining equipment inter-operability, enforcement of only a few standards is required but for getting software portability, additional standards are always needed.

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