SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Gary Arora

Blog Post

Transforming SCADA As We Know It Through App Dev

Small SCADA apps for IIoT

Small- and mid-sized industrial organizations that are reliant upon Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems -- like those in oil and gas, energy, utilities, and agriculture -- are facing new pressures to meet market demands. In these environments, agility and operational efficiency are no longer "nice to have" but are now essential to survival. Operations managers at these smaller businesses constantly face demands to incorporate modern technology that requires increased connectivity across networks in order to automate, monitor and control the processes that optimize operational success (and limit risk/downtime).

The challenge for many of these small- and mid-sized businesses is that they need to find solutions rugged enough to operate in harsh and remote field locations, while reliably monitoring data, executing logic locally and enabling visibility globally - all with limited resources. In many instances, a traditional SCADA system is hard on the pocket books and ROI is something that might only be achieved in the distant future. The good news is that technology providers have been listening and working to craft solutions for these businesses to ease the cost burden on the front end and expedite the ROI process.

App Server Software Available Today

Freshly available (as of today), App Server Software technology combines proven, industrially hardened 900 MHz wireless telemetry with the ability to program and host third-party applications, similar to a Linux-based Raspberry Pi embedded in an industrial Ethernet radio. Within the app server software solution, Industrial IoT (IIoT) developers have the ability to program with any language that is compatible with a Linux kernel, including: Python, Java, C++, Node-RED and Node.js development environments. The App Server software that FreeWave now offers comes pre-loaded with Node-RED, Python and MQTT for easy industrial IoT app development on multiple ZumLink 900 Series radio models.

App-Based SCADA Systems

With the app server software came the opportunity to transform SCADA. In order to support the small- and mid-sized businesses that face the costs of Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) type hardware and monthly recurring fees, the engineers at FreeWave have successfully built a prototype ZumDash Small SCADA app in Node-RED that is enabled by a ZumLink programmable radio. The prototype app is available at a fraction of the cost of traditional SCADA.

The Small SCADA app enables reliable data collection; monitoring, and remote command and control functionality through triggers, alarms and actions. It supports analog, digital and HART data through a Modbus interface. It also provides a “dashboard” with user-defined status updates and data trend visualization from any web-based device. Essentially, the new app serves as a small SCADA replacement.

A Sample ZumDash Dashboard

App Development Opportunities

The Small SCADA app is only the beginning. Developers have a big opportunity to help transform operations across many industries through app dev at the edge. FreeWave wants to enable these developers through its pilot program. Participants will receive a complimentary hardware/software dev kit to write their own industrial IoT applications with easy-to-use developer tools.

Learn more about the app-based SCADA system here: FreeWave Unveils ZumIQ App Server Software to Power IoT Programmability at the Edge

More Stories By Scott Allen

Scott is an executive leader with more than 25 years of experience in product lifecycle management, product marketing, business development, and technology deployment. He offers a unique blend of start-up aggressiveness and established company executive leadership, with expertise in product delivery, demand generation, and global market expansion. As CMO of FreeWave, Scott is responsible for product life cycle/management, GTM execution, demand generation, and brand creation/expansion strategies.

Prior to joining FreeWave, Scott held executive management positions at Fluke Networks (a Danaher Company), Network Associates (McAfee), and several start-ups including Mazu Networks and NEXVU Business Solutions. Scott earned his BA in Computer Information Systems from Weber University.

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