Control panel with buttons, key and switch.

When is the Best Time to Switch to a SCADA System?

When SCADA is involved, there are a lot of working parts. That is the whole point of investing in the system. Known formally as supervisory control and data acquisition, this system is a combination of software and hardware. It is used primarily in industrial contexts, and it has a variety of applications. When you use this system, you can control processes, gather data, interact with parts and make a complete record of events. Clearly, most industries recognize the value of investing in such a system. However, it is not as evident when it is time to upgrade your system. Here is what you need to know about updating your system.


Consider an Upgrade When the Hardware Is Outdated

A SCADA system is only as good as its working parts. Therefore, when your hardware starts to reach the end of its lifespan, it is probably time to start thinking about an upgrade. The hardware to pay attention to includes networking switches and computers. You can gauge the viability of your hardware by looking at the OEM warranty and extended support options. Typically, the hardware is given a warranty for three to five years. After that, you will get limited support from the manufacturer. At this point, you are best served by upgrading the entire system to support its functionality over time.


Look at Upgrades When Replacement Parts Are Scarce

Similarly, you will know it is time to upgrade your system when the replacement parts are hard to find. It is normal for parts to wear down and stop working. Having to replace a part here or there is not a sign of a problem. However, when finding those replacement parts becomes problematic, it is time to start thinking about other options. Once your hardware replacement parts become scarce, you will spend too much time and money obtaining what you need. At this juncture, you may discover that it is actually cheaper to just buy a new system instead of overpaying for the parts you need.


Upgrades Are Necessary For Compliance Reasons

While economic reasons are pressing, most industries still resist an upgrade. However, sometimes it is not a choice. There are standards in most industries. These standards do cover your SCADA system. While the hardware itself may not be regulated, the software element probably is. After a certain amount of time, older operating systems are no longer supported. These natural software upgrades will eventually outpace your hardware. At this point, your hardware is no longer supported by your software. When you get here, it is necessary to invest in a system upgrade for full compliance.


Invest in Upgrades When You Expand

If you are experiencing growth across multiple facilities, then an upgrade may be in order. As you spread out your operations across different worksites, it is important to have a system that can be maintained across all of them. In some cases, your old system may not be able to support this growth. When your software capabilities are pushed to the maximum, you may start to experience other performance issues. This results in downtime and other maintenance costs. Opting for a whole new system is often a better way to go.


Contemplate a New System When You Need Flexibility

In many industries, there is a policy that things should stay the same if they are not broken. While this can seem like a pragmatic approach, it does have its limits. If your system is out of date, then you may not realize just how limited you are. Newer models give you flexibility. In particular, a new system will allow you to monitor data and outputs from a variety of locations. In the past, older systems have required users to sit at a single console. If you get an update, you can view your data remotely on a phone or tablet. This type of mobile support is almost a given in any other industry. If you are ready to take your system into the modern era, then it is time to think about an upgrade.


Look Into an Upgrade When Security Is a Concern

It is time to think about a new system when your security is being compromised. Older systems may still be functional, but they may also be increasingly vulnerable. In addition to potential downtime and outages, your older system may simply be unable to hold up to modern security threats. Security threats evolve quickly in the modern world. This means your system is constantly facing new threats. If your system is more than five years old, then it probably does not have the security features that are standard today. Think carefully about what security features your current system has. Does it have two-factor authentication? Does it use encryption? If not, then look into investing in a newer system.