SCADA vendor selection: In I

n this day and age, is it even possible to select the wrong SCADA vendor? Back in the 1990s, part of a greenfield control system architecture proposal would include a detailed SCADA vendor selection process. This process would focus on variables such as the features and benefits list, cost, ease of use and speed of development. Those days are long since over, since there is no doubt almost every SCADA product on the market is capable of providing a

comprehensive solution at a reasonable price. This has be en great news for the customer, who is free to use the product they are familiar with and a preferred vendor they feel they can trust.

Most products can be configured in any graphical style, provide wide connectivity, and usually all of the more complex features such as distributed architecture support, detailed historical trending and remote alarm alert services. With product differentiation becoming a difficult part of the purchasing process, and largely pointless many end users have opted to stay with the same SCADA product for the last decade or so. But they may have been getting a little too comfortable. Whilst independent systems integrator Astec Solutions is business continue with GE Digital. A Andy Tripp assert


s to be closely aligned vendor agonistic, the

s the motivation behind stec founder and MD,

the alignment is for good reason. GE’s SCADA products, iFIX and CIMPLICITY, form part of a m uch wider softwar e product portfolio which has benefited from a staggering level of investment. In the last few years, GE has ploughed billions of dollars into development to ensure its software products have strong future road maps. This has ensured their products remain relevant for tomorrow’s Industrial Internet as much as today’s automation and control solutions. Astec is confident that GE’s software stack can provide customers with the best possible future extensibili ty of their system a s well as maximising return and keeping total cost of ownership low.

, GE’s drive to improve their own

manufacturing facilities (with locations in more than 170 countries across sectors such as healthcare, transportation and power) re-focused their commitment to automation and control software and the Industrial Internet. This was cemented by the creation of GE Digital in recent years, following CEO Jef frey Immelt’s vision to reinvent GE as a ‘digital industrial’

For SCADA solut organisation.

today’s end user i

s to challenge potential ions, the task for


Above: Astec founder and MD, Andy Tripp

Above: Astec founder and MD, Andy Tripp


methodologies on key subjects such as security, compliance, standards, support and future system extension. Tripp comments, “You can have the best product in the world and still deliver it poorly. The outcome of a below-par delivery can stay with a manufacturing facility for decades, harming its competitive position in the market.” As the sole Premier Solution Partner for GE Digital in the UK, Astec boasts an unrivalled depth knowledge in the GE product family, which allows themto provide product-based solutions with the least amount of engineered customisation.

1980 1990s/2000s

For those end users who may already have a poorly configured or poorly performing system, a ‘RAG’ (red amber green) survey can be carried out to determine the effectiveness of their system, and highlight any areas requiring improvement and updates.

Over the last few years, Astec have been working with GE to push forward the latest us enhance the

to impacting traditional SCADA, this enables cloud technologies of the

Industrial Internet to become a seamless extension of existing systems.


user experience. In addition er interface standards to

Innovatio tion over imita io imitation

This is one of the tell-signs Tripp

advises looking out for when sourcing a suitable integrator. “End users need to determine if the system integrator can get the most out of the chosen product, or if they have a natural inclination to engineer their way out of trouble with custom code and custom solutions. If it’s the latter, the likelihood of the system being less supportable and extendable significantly increases. It’s also essential the integrator has sufficient knowledge and experience to work with the end user’s IT departments to ensure

supportability, maximum security and resilience. The implications of the IT world must be fully understood, so systems can work in harmony with the existing architecture, and not against. These factors also will begin to directly affect the pace that customers can adopt and leverage cloud-based technology.”

Astec are able to use the new interface to exploit the world of analytics and artificial intelligence within a

manufacturing environment. Predictive algorithms can informusers of impending failure of process hardware and production tolerances, with dynamic workflow and decision support preventing basic mistakes and downtime. KPIs and large volumes of production systemdata froman individual site can be elevated to display user-centric, actionable insights using Predix, GE’s platformfor the Industrial Internet. Astec recently joined GE Digital’s ecosystemof Alliance

Partners to develop new applications for Predix, wit h 50 per cent of busines s expected to come fromcloud-based solutions within the next five years.

Astec Solutions www.astecsoluti ns. om /AUTOMATIONATION /AUTOMAT

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