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EcoStruxure™ Geo SCADA Expert

Software for telemetry and remote SCADA applications

EcoStruxure™ Geo SCADA Expert (formerly known as ClearSCADA) is an open, flexible and scalable software for telemetry and remote SCADA solutions

EcoStruxure™ Geo SCADA Expert
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EcoStruxure™ Geo SCADA Expert

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        Global information
        ClearSCADA is an open software platform that provides powerful features for remote management of critical infrastructure; scalable for large enterprise environments and effective for small systems. Historical data is collected by single or redundant servers over dedicated long-distance communication infrastructure and made available to local and remote users via integrated clients or third-party data management applications.
        Scalable Architecture
        ClearSCADA is an integrated SCADA host software and comprises three components; the server, a windows client known as ‘ViewX’ and a web client known as ‘WebX’. The server performs all of the functions of the SCADA system including the polling engine, real-time database, alarm processor, historian, reporting and running a web server. The client applications function as the HMI and are connected to the server in a client-server architecture using TCP/IP network

        For high reliability systems, ClearSCADA can be configured in a multitude of redundancy options including dual, triple, disaster recover (DR) sites and remote performance servers for local access. Even LAN/WAN links and connections to remote controller can be configured for redundant paths

        One area that can be a large issue for SCADA software when deployed across WAN links is how to manage the graphic displays. If these reside on the SCADA server then you need a high bandwidth link for reasonable pull-up times. An alternative is to store a local copy of graphics on the remote workstation, but then you face the issue for version management. ClearSCADA native format for graphics is vector based and this is typically 1/20 the size over bitmap graphics, therefore graphics are managed by the server and friendly for low bandwidth communication links.
          There are 3 components to ClearSCADA:      
        1. ClearSCADA Server (point based)
        2. ViewX windows client (operator station)
        3. WebX client (remote/intermittent user)
              It is important to remember that the server manages the complete system, ie:
      • communication drivers
      • alarm and event journal
      • historic archive (historian)
      • configuration database
        The clients do not store any part of the SCADA database locally, hence they are known as Zero Administration Clients (ZAC)
        Advanced Design Environment
        How often have you been asked where is the latest version of the configuration database for system x? This will never happen with ClearSCADA as the configuration database is managed by the ClearSCADA server and any operator workstation can switch between operations and development mode by a simple switch that is enabled by user security permissions. ClearSCADA’s windows client application, known as ‘ViewX’ is dual purpose and any workstation can be used for development "simultaneously".

        The design environment is also unique as ClearSCADA’s database is object based configuration. This is a powerful concept as you can build the database structure that closely resembles the customer’s physical assets. If it is designed this way, then security setup and alarm filtering is applied based on the database hierarchy saving maintenance when new assets or users are added or removed. The next level in object based SCADA is configuration for devices/sites; here you can encapsulate the device/site with the entire SCADA configuration to define it. This means graphics, points, alarms, redirections, historian, security, trends, reports, logic, etc. If you have many devices/sites then you would build configuration as ‘template’ and create ‘instances’ for each unique device/site, this way you can save 75-90% in engineering effort for your project.
        Object Oriented
        The object-based architecture allows reusable object templates to be developed. At a low level these objects represent single devices, such as pumps and switches, and contain all associated tags, alarms and events, as well as security and communication parameters. At a high level the objects can represent entire sub systems, such as pump stations, and are typically comprised of groups of devices. Modifications made to the source template are automatically distributed throughout the multiple instances of the template within the system.

        A very powerful result of the object-based architecture is that any changes to the ClearSCADA database can be made online, and do not result in operational stoppages.
        Vector Graphics
        ClearCADA features vector-based graphics and an object library for ease of configuration; graphics can be embedded allowing graphical objects to be reused and associated with different assets.
      • Vector graphics are ideal for map display
      • Independent of Windows resolution, no loss of detail
      • Import AutoCAD format
        Create templates for duplicate assets and devices to ensure standardisation, to support rapid development and lower TCO.
        Integrated SCADA Functions
        Web server
        Local and Remote Web Access

        SCADA is becoming an integral component to any customer’s operations and therefore the information needs to be shared across the business or enterprise. What better way than to offer a web based solution that minimises the need to install any software on the user’s computer? ClearSCADA offers a web solution that requires no configuration, setup or maintenance. It has a built-in web server and every graphics page that is developed is automatically available in the web browser. This is not restricted to view-only but can be full control according to the user security permissions.

        The web client supports;
      • Real-time graphics
      • Control and set-point changes
      • Alarm acknowledgement
      • Trend chart displays
      • Execute and display reports

        If users wish to access the SCADA system remotely then the ClearSCADA web server can be enabled for secure sockets (SSL) technology for added piece of mind.
        No SCADA package is complete without providing reporting capabilities but the reports that users need are so varied that the report application generally ends up being quite complex to configure. So the ideal scenario is that the SCADA package offers several options; ClearSCADA has a rich suite of industry standard open interfaces such as ODBC, OLE-DB and OPC which can be used by any third party reporting package or Microsoft Office.

        For more complex reporting where the SCADA system needs to export reports based on periodic time schedules, such as first thing in the morning before the shift starts, and the output format needs to be a .pdf file and emailed to a group of users then the integrated Crystal Reports functionality is ideal. In ClearSCADA, you build the Crystal Report template and tie it to a scheduler object all without writing code or script. This reduces engineering effort and makes it easy to understand and maintain.
        Alarm Redirection
        It is normal to expect that SCADA/HMI software includes some form of alarm monitoring so it comes down to the feature set that separates basic functionality vs advanced. ClearSCADA is designed for Master Station SCADA, which is a term used for large system monitoring and control, ie. many servers and workstations with thousands of controllers. In these systems there may be a considerable number of active alarms so it is important to separate by area (database hierarchy) and filter by alarm category.

        Firstly, alarming is an attribute of point object so when you configure the point you specify the alarm limits, severity level, associated help page, rate-of-change threshold, etc. When you save the point configuration, the server immediately monitors the alarm conditions and reports status. When an alarm occurs it can be observed in many places:

        • Full alarm page
        • Alarm banner (either top or bottom of display)
        • Graphic display by highlighting point value
        • Embedded list
        • Redirected to SMS text message on cell phone
        • Redirected to email message
              The redirection capability is an advanced feature and built into the server at no extra cost. It is ideal for unmanned SCADA monitoring as it alerts the right person when a critical event occurs.
        Even if SCADA is 24/7 manned, redirection can be an insurance policy to ensure notification. Another metaphor for redirection is a business rule, when a critical alarm occurs you determine who gets notified and whether it should take place immediately or after a certain period of time if the alarm persists. You can also configure multiple redirections thereby providing an escalation process. The diagram below shows how this might work.
              An example of alarm redirection  
        Built in Telemetry Functions
        Polling Engine and Protocol Drivers
        It is often a challenge to connect your SCADA host to the controllers and this is because there are many vendors, protocols and communication options. ClearSCADA includes integrated drivers for industry standard protocols such as MODBUS, DNP3, IEC870 and OPC at no additional cost and has partnered with 3rd party vendors which are the market leaders for proprietary controllers found in Oil & Gas and PLCs.

        Telemetry applications generally use open standards such as MODBUS, DNP3 and IEC870 because they are spread out over a wide area and are designed for intermittent communications which quite often occurs. ClearSCADA leverages the full potential of these protocols, including features such as synchronising RTU real-time clocks, uploading event data or data log files and backfilling this automatically into the ClearSCADA historian, providing communication statistics and alarms, etc.

        When it comes to the factory floor or plant, the PLC dominates and there are many brands and communication options available. It used to be serial, then proprietary cabling, and more recently Ethernet, but protocols remains proprietary.

        The Oil & Gas industry is also riddled with proprietary protocols and has the added complexity of EFM data from gas flow computers. ClearSCADA is integrated with Autosol’s AES Server and can access any of the points or parameters in these RTUs and flow computers.
        Supported PLCs/RTUs and devices
        Native Drivers
        (included in ClearSCADA)
        Proprietary RTU/Flow Computers
        (via AES)
        MODBUS serial/TCP/UDP RTU & ASCII
        MODBUS Master and Slave driver
        ABB TotalFlow
        OPC-DA client Emerson FlowBoss & ROC
        DNP3 serial/TCP/UDP
        DNP3 Master and Slave driver
        Bristol Babcock BSAP
        Allen Bradley DF1 Amocams AINET
        Siemens S7 PLC Daniels DSI
        IEC60870 serial and IP Dresser Micro Corrector
        ICMP Eagle Research
        SNMP Galvanic Gas Micro
        Kingfisher RTU GE Multilin
        NTMon HP 48000
        ODBC Kimray
        Lufkin Mercury Instruments
          OMNI Flow Computers
          Themo Automation
          Reynolds Equipment
        Business & IT Integration
        Integration with Business Systems
        ClearSCADA is an open SCADA platform with many options for integration with business systems. If you wish to navigate between applications such as ‘click on object’ in ClearSCADA graphic you can hyperlink to another application. The same applies for reverse direction, this time the hyperlink would be a URL and display the associated web page in WebX. This is ideal for navigating between GIS, asset management software and SCADA.

        Data integration is usually done at the database level and ClearSCADA’s real-time database, alarm/event journal and historian are all accessible using standard SQL and ODBC or OLE-DB technology. A 3rd party database such as SQL Server, Oracle, etc., can use stored procedures to periodically query the ClearSCADA server for any data needed. Conversely, ClearSCADA can ‘push’ data out to third party databases based on operator command, trigger event or periodic via schedule object.

        For OEM partners and large scale system integrators that want to migrate configuration from legacy SCADA or bulk configure, the OLE Automation interface that is based on .NET is an ideal solution. An OEM may use the Bill of Materials spreadsheet and an excel macro to fully configure the ClearSCADA database in a matter of minutes. The system integrator may develop an application that ‘reads’ the configuration files for an existing SCADA product and then through the OLE Automation interface may create the objects in ClearSCADA for migration.
        External Applications
        Diagram showing interfaces that can be used for external applications.
        Enhanced Security
        Enhanced Security
        SCADA security has ever increasing media attention due to cyber attacks on infrastructure assets such as water and energy. So how can the SCADA platform support making it difficult to penetrate? Let us assume for the moment that the physical aspects to the system are secure, what about user login and remote access? When a user logs on to ClearSCADA they only get access to the level within the database hierarchy that has been pre-determined for them. If there are other areas of the configuration that they are not allowed to view or control then this will be locked out. The security model in ClearSCADA is object based and is therefore granular down to a single point or object level. It does not matter which client application or interface is used to gain access, any request for data complies to the data security model.

        If you need to provide remote access to users then you may wish to deploy a ClearSCADA Performance Server in the DMZ which is synchronised to the primary server using uni-directional communications. This Performance Server (with DMZ option enabled) is now ‘read-only’ access irrespective whether the user has higher level security on their permission profile (see diagram below).

        Naturally, any and all access attempts are recorded in the ClearSCADA event journal as are configuration edits, control, and alarm acknowledgements so you can run periodic reports to monitor and report this activity. As a extra precaution, perhaps for critical control actions, you can force the operator to re-enter their password and add a comment to ensure proper warning before action is taken.
        Example of security configuration
        Users are generally associated to a Group (up to 4 groups), then the Group is assigned security permissions on the database hierarchy at any level. Objects below the parent (such as a site) automatically inherit the permissions from the parent so this ensures correct settings and reduces maintenance. The ClearSCADA security model is granular down to individual object such as a tag or point.
        Reliable Operations
        SCADA system viability is based on providing reliable and secure data across reliable infrastructure. If data isn’t trustworthy or dependably delivered across the communication network, then it is worthless to the business and can even be a liability. ClearSCADA specifically addresses challenges relating to geographically-dispersed assets communicating over disparate media.
        Critical Infrastructure
        Minimising the effects of equipment failure and reduced system performance on critical SCADA infrastructure is an important component in maintaining overall reliability. The geographic dispersal of redundant infrastructure such as servers and workstations, as well as providing multiple communication paths are two techniques that can be used to ensure business continuity.
        ClearSCADA contributes to overall system reliability with:

      • Built-in support for up to 3, self-managed redundant servers for field communications and polling.
      • Standby Server that can be located at a remote location, providing service during a disaster recovery scenario. Traffic on WAN link is Report-by-Exception which reduces the quantity of messages sent during times of increased network traffic and reduced performance.
      • Client workstations that connect to any/all servers in the redundancy set and automatically switch under server failure.
      • Support for dual LAN and WAN connections between servers.
      • Secure protocols offering no loss of data and reliable communication over WAN networks

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