Scada review 2015

June 2015 SCADA/HMI

Andrew Ashton, contributing editor, SA Instrumentation and Control.
Andrew Ashton, contributing editor, SA Instrumentation and Control.

It is encouraging to see that even in these times of depressed business confidence there are world-class projects being engineered by South African systems integrators across a broad range of industrial sectors.

Drill down for gold

We remind readers that the value of scada reviews is not always about the capabilities of the scada product – it may be about how the project has been engineered or managed, an innovative system architecture or the adoption of certain standards. This year’s reviews contain insights into all of these and more.

In print we feature each vendor’s response, which we have edited to meet space constraints. In order to prevent such editing from keeping valuable insights out of the hands of readers, we have published the full-length questionnaire responses online. For readers’ convenience, we have provided a link to the full-length article at the end of each printed review.

Our subject projects

Highlights of Adroit’s submission on a large animal feeds plant include the end-user’s desire to increase plant availability through replacing an earlier scripting model with new capabilities that make it easier to visually debug high level sequencing, the introduction of mobile devices for faultfinding and from an architectural perspective the server redundancy and remote I/O bias.

Siemens’ scada review project is in the mining and metallurgical industry. The fact that this project has in excess of 3600 million updates daily chewing up some 110 GB of storage every 24 hours may prompt some readers to rush out and buy shares in Seagate! It is encouraging to read about the standardisation efforts on this project.

The subject of Schneider’s submission is a sizeable water and wastewater plant, and illustrates the value to original vendors of installed base as plants expand or revamp legacy control systems. The application showcases Schneider’s Plantstruxure PES (Process Expert System), which the vendor claims brings together the best of the PLC/scada and DCS worlds.

Wonderware’s subject project, at the Port of Durban, is a first for Technews’ scada reviews in that it was primarily motivated by Eskom’s inability to service consumer demand for electricity. When downtime caused by electrical supply outages costs upward of R20 million per hour it certainly helps focus an end-user’s mind on ways to overcome these outages.


As a group, these projects illustrate just how far traditional scada + plc systems have evolved in the direction of the more traditional Distributed Control Systems, with widespread remote I/O and largely centralised multiprocessor architectures handling sequencing, logic, alarms, viewing, archiving and reporting.

More data being archived and a greater dependence on remote I/O are contributing to fibre rapidly displacing copper as the physical networking medium of choice.


Disappointingly I do not believe that we are seeing sufficient emphasis on the adoption of secure architectures which incorporate DMZs and which are optimised for patch and OS management, but the gradual introduction of managed switches into control system environments is encouraging.

Responses continue to illustrate that SIs and end-users rely heavily on vendor’s built-in models for alarm handling and management, with little additional engineering standardisation of alarming taking place at the project engineering level.

Based on responses it appears that there is also still little by way of formalised configuration management taking place and there remains a heavy reliance on manually instituted configuration and data backups.

Thank you

On behalf of our readers we thank the end-users, SIs and vendors for their efforts in comprehensively completing our 2015 scada questionnaire, for sharing their expertise and experience and continuing to expand the knowledge base of the C&I industry in South and southern Africa.


1. The order of appearance of scada reviews is based on the order in which they were received by SA Instrumentation and Control.

2. Some reviewer responses have been edited due to space and comprehension considerations.

3. A ‘No’ or ‘N/A’ response to a question in the project-specific responses does not necessarily mean that the scada system lacks that feature; only that the feature was not implemented in or not applicable to the subject project.

4. Where a respondent has not answered a question or has answered off topic that response has been omitted.

5. A blank copy of the full questionnaire as provided to participants and with un­abbreviated questions can be found at


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