As the popularity of satellite M2M devices for remote tracking, monitoring and control has increased, SCADA system integrators are increasingly trying to find new applications for these low-cost alternatives to satellite broadband terminals. At ORBCOMM, our system integrators in the past have used our devices for everything from monitoring and controlling oil and gas flow meters to water metering. We are now seeing the trend towards using our IsatData Pro satellite M2M devices for event-based SCADA monitoring.
The reason for this is simple. For many companies and utilities with infrastructure in remote areas, cellular service is either not available or reliable or satellite broadband is an overpowered and costly solution for the application. Satellite M2M, with its small footprint, power consumption and equally smaller capital investment and ongoing monthly costs, is an attractive option for these types of SCADA applications.
Admittedly, implementing satellite M2M for event-based SCADA monitoring takes a little more work in the beginning but many users and system integrators are finding that the initial investment in time and effort pays off in the long term.
Integrating Satellite M2M into the Field
Adopting satellite M2M technology into existing SCADA networks may mean a change in how we think communication modems are integrated in the field and how data is received at the control center.
Most cellular and satellite broadband communication modems are simply a gateway between field equipment and the communication network. They offer limited features in terms of the ability to program intelligent logic to control the amount of data that is sent being sent wirelessly. In many SCADA architectures they are continuously sending events and status information (even if nothing has changed) to the control center.