Developing a sustainable SCADA solution for global agribusiness
A global agribusiness developed a sustainable supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for their company.
Creating a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system when sustainability is a factor can be a challenge. CHS Pipelines and Terminals – a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers, and cooperatives across the US – took this challenge head-on.
CHS was using a legacy SCADA system to monitor and control their pipeline, and wanted to progress to a modern solution to meet their growing needs. This new solution needed to allow for safe delivery of hydrocarbons, enhance the controller’s operational capabilities, and improve system visibility for enterprise and remote users, all in a scalable architecture.
To turn this wish list into a reality, they worked with Streamline Control. Streamline is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and is made up of solution architects, engineers, and designers with over 75 combined years of industrial control system experience in utilities and the energy sector.
With Streamline’s assistance, CHS replaced their legacy pipeline control system with a new system that followed the Purdue Model and was built on open standards for communication, structured data, and intuitive visualization. The system used Ignition by Inductive Automation, message queuing telemetry transport (MQTT) and the Sparkplug B specification for a transformative, single-stack solution.
Standards alignment, compliance and scalability
A high-level objective for this project was to have a scalable SCADA solution capable of delivering sustainable outcomes. The system needed to be aligned on standards, such as protocols, tag structures, naming conventions, security, and extensive templating with undefined user types (UDTs). To ensure compliance, there also needed to be alignment on display characteristics, navigation, colors, and alarming.
The project entailed many tasks: designing the SCADA architecture, creating high-performance human-machine interface (HMI) displays, developing a tagging/asset structure for asset locations, building displays for enterprise users, incorporating leak detection systems, and creating applications for batch tracking, pig tracking, and compliance.
Data accessibility from the edge to enterprise
Previously, accessing data was a struggle. End users had to ask where to search to find needed data, and even once they’d found it, it lacked important contextual information. Now, CHS’s data is easily accessible across every level of their organization.
Data is gathered for pipeline controllers, and all operational data points are securely exposed to the enterprise using MQTT/middleware and Cirrus Link modules.
“We had a high latency and low bandwidth network that MQTT was built for. Using MQTT as middleware allowed a simplified architecture that allowed multiple systems to access the live data at the same time,” said Ken Cabatic, Lead Integrator at Streamline Control.
In the field, edge devices and Sparkplug B gather and contextualize operational data points, and interface with PLCs and flow computers. This provides the needed visibility and control of the asset.
In the control room, compliance and CRM-related activities are visualized and integrated into a unified operator experience, following high-performance HMI and API 1175 best practices.
At the enterprise level, operational data is gathered into contextualized, templated, HTML5-based displays. This is accomplished using enterprise SCADA, MQTT, and Sparkplug B. These displays are suitable for casual users, rather than controllers, and can be used for desktop or mobile devices. Now, the location of assets across the pipeline can be exposed to field users on mobile devices, without needing to grant them access into the SCADA environment.
Gathering more meaningful data
CHS’s unified and consistent system, their data has important context that it lacked before. Because of this, they are able to effectively leverage the valuable data that flows throughout their organization.
A secondary control center was set up, because of the publish/subscribe architecture that was used. It is independent of the primary control center and provides a disaster recovery location for CHS. Additionally, it functions as a full test environment, where they are able to test changes against live data.
When it comes to control room management and compliance, CHS evolved from a pen-and-paper era, to a digitization of compliance-related activities and processes. And thanks to the reporting that was built into the system, control room managers and stakeholders automatically receive alarm reports, compliance-related reports, and shift logs via email.
For data collection, control centers use MQTT and Sparkplug B with a structured templated format. The use of Sparkplug B assists in shaping and structuring data, by defining additional properties on tags. Now, their data has real meaning, and can be put to practical use in the enterprise.
“Ignition allows us to support multiple user groups to provide that essential data to everyone that needs it and all with a secure segmented and consistent model,” said Jeremiah Hannley, CTO of Streamline Control. “This includes people outside of the pipeline control room such as field technicians, business users and managers. And everyone’s able to have that same consistent and current data.”
Developing a sustainable control system
Thanks to Streamline’s assistance, along with the implementation of a modern SCADA platform and MQTT technology, CHS now has a sustainable, secure, and best-in-class system that serves the needs of their pipeline operation group.
– Inductive Automation is a CFE Media and Technology content partner.