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Control, standardisation to bring SCADA systems to new heights

Posted: 12 Nov 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SCADA? data acquisition? resource management?

According to the latest report from Frost & Sullivan, the increasing demand from industries such as water and mining is driving the automation market and the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems segment in particular within Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). With the pressing issues of inadequate water supply and scarce resources, the systems will enable enhanced control over large-scale projects and effective resource management, added the market analytics firm.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the market earned revenues of $150 million in 2012 and estimates this to reach $215 million in 2018. The research covers the SCADA hardware, software and services market for major end-user industries such as mining, water/wastewater, power, and oil and gas.

"A heightened focus on clean energy by industries in ANZ has further widened the potential of the SCADA market," noted Frost & Sullivan industrial automation & process control research analyst Krishnan Ramanathan. "As energy needs are constantly on the rise, emerging industries in the power sector, such as solar and hydroelectric, signify growth prospects for SCADA systems."

Most end users have a wide range of installed SCADA equipment, which makes it imperative to standardise SCADA. As ANZ are advanced nations with access to essential infrastructure, SCADA is proving to be indispensable and cross functional.

However, the transition from ageing infrastructure to standardised SCADA systems will not be an easy task, as most systems have been customised based on the end-user requirements by several vendors with varying approaches. Therefore, it is likely that end users will change over to newer systems completely rather than adopt a piecemeal approach. This is the reason automation vendors wish to be seen as a single stop for automation services.

While the market demonstrates tremendous growth potential, industry players need to be wary of vulnerabilities associated with SCADA systems. Given that data security is not a key focus area, these systems are prone to malware and viruses. Moreover, most of the older systems transmit data and control commands in unencrypted clear text, which increases vulnerability. These security soft spots are expected to be mitigated by software and tools that tackle hacking and related issues.

"As competition intensifies in the ANZ SCADA market, security and technical support will become the main competitive factors for automation majors," added Ramanathan.

"To gain an edge, experience, support structure and the ability to invest are important. Open architecture and adherence to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) protocols will also be critical for customer buy-in," he stated.

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