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SCADA HMI for Power Control Systems

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Human Machine Interface (HMI) systems are used in monitoring equipment across many industries and applications, including emergency power. This article describes SCADA HMI generally and summarizes how it is often used in backup power systems, including applications served by ASCO Power Technologies equipment.

SCADA HMI Description

Historically, SCADA systems have enabled the monitoring and control of electrical systems through discrete communication channels. Over time, the information managed by SCADA systems increased in scope and complexity, resulting in the increasing integration of HMI and SCADA technologies. Today, SCADA HMI functionality enables advanced graphical display and interaction for monitoring equipment and systems in many industries and applications.

SCADA HMIs process user inputs to set operating parameters in electronically controlled equipment. They enable the adjustment of priorities, time delays, operating modes, test features, and more. They also monitor the control system and power switching equipment, and alert users when problems are detected in Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), circuit breakers, protective relays, generators, and other devices. In addition, SCADA HMI maintain logs that enable users to view events and alarms as they occurred. SCADA HMI also supports system testing and is responsible for monitoring building power metrics and displaying them to users.

SCADA HMI collect and process real-time data from power devices, display it through one or more HMI devices, and provide real-time alarms and notifications of operating conditions. In some applications, SCADA HMI systems initiate and supervise responding actions automatically.

Purpose and Application

SCADA HMI systems monitor, alarm, and control operations in industrial plants, transportation facilities, water infrastructure, electrical utility grids, and more. They process data from pumps, switches, and electrical or electromechanical devices and execute tasks based on the data received. For example, SCADA HMI systems commonly collect data from alarm devices; filter and categorize alarm inputs; then forward alarms to other equipment, to notification systems, or to users through SMS or email messages. They can organize and present alarm data in ways that enable operators to become aware of and respond to important situations quickly.

SCADA Functions

In backup power applications, SCADA HMI systems collect analog or digital data from power devices for processing and store it for future reference. SCADA systems process the information to produce worded messages, data tables, historical logs, or graphic outputs for display. Human operators respond to and interact with the equipment through the SCADA HMI systems.

SCADA HMI can interact with a broad range of power devices. These include switchgear, automatic transfer switches, protective relays, generator controllers, circuit breaker trip units, power meters, and more. Figure 1 provides an overview. Backup power equipment control, monitoring, testing, and diagnosis would be difficult to complete without the functionality that SCADA HMI provides.
SCADA HMI in ASCO Power Control Systems

SCADA HMI is used by various manufacturers to monitor power switchgear. In ASCO Power Control Systems, SCADA HMI provides a secure communication channel for interacting with devices. Security is typically established and maintained through password systems, where various access levels are assigned to personnel according to job description and authorization level, such as distinct levels for technicians, facility managers, and design engineers.

SCADA HMI can also communicate with annunciators, remote terminals, and other HMIs. For instance, a SCADA HMI device will commonly reside in the Master Control Section of a power control system, displaying data obtained from a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) there. The device may also communicate with PLCs in Generator Sections that interact with backup power sources.

SCADA HMIs can be installed at remote locations within a facility. In ASCO PCS applications, SCADA HMIs are engineered-to-order, and thus present a range of customization options, including a wide range of screen sizes. Distributing information in this way enables operators to monitor and respond to conditions from a central location, remote from the switchgear, which can increase operator efficiency and personnel safety. Communication with key devices is shown in the following figure:
SCADA HMI systems are highly scalable, which enables them to monitor a single power equipment lineup to complex, geographically dispersed equipment across multiple systems. In ASCO backup power systems, SCADA HMI supports a host of essential and advanced monitoring features. Some are identified in the following table, which gives an indication of the range of SCADA capabilities.
Differences Between SCADA HMI and Building or Power Management Systems

As stated, SCADA HMI In ASCO Power Control Systems is used to monitor and/or interact with devices such as master control and generator PLCs, as well as other ASCO backup power equipment, such as Automatic Transfer Switches. ASCO SCADA systems are independent of other communication interfaces, such as Building Management Systems and Emergency Power Management Systems. These provide intelligent monitoring and communications across a range of infrastructure and equipment from multiple manufacturers, whereas SCADA HMI is strictly used to monitor and control ASCO power devices, as shown in Figure 3.

Modern SCADA HMI systems enable advanced graphical display and interaction for monitoring backup power equipment and systems. They process user inputs to set operating parameters; collect, process, and display operating data; and provide alarms and notifications. SCADA HMI can interact with a broad range of power devices. These include switchgear, automatic transfer switches, protective relays, circuit breaker trip units, generator controllers, power meters, and more. Because they support remote monitoring and control, they can enhance operator efficiency and safety. SCADA HMI systems are highly scalable and can interact with Building Management Systems and Emergency Power Management Systems to increase the benefit of remote technologies.

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