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5 Benefits of Upgrading your SCADA System

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, is a technology that is considered the backbone of the modern industry. The system serves as the core of operations for the industrial sector, providing a high level of convenience for companies to control industrial processes locally or remotely, collect real-time data and interact with devices.

Like many other computer systems, SCADA systems also require regular upgrades. With Microsoft announcing earlier this year, that they will stop supporting Windows 7, many companies are likely to be accessing their systems and considering the possibility of upgrading in order to keep them stable, effective, and profitable.

However, many businesses don’t upgrade their systems because of the perceived investment loss due to new licensing, downtime and providing training to help staff understand the new technologies. While there is no doubt that there are likely to be challenges when upgrading SCADA systems, the benefits of upgrading far outweigh the impacts of continuing to use outdated systems that control critical infrastructure.

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Implementing a SCADA system upgrade does require a having a plan in place, but keeping a critical system updated can provide several benefits, including:

Minimising the Cost of Operational Performance With technology rapidly advancing and the market providing a vast number of tools to assist us in streamlining our levels of productivity, updating your SCADA systems can provide just that - efficiency. An increase in operational performance is crucial in minimising capital expenditure and improving asset performance.

Reliable Security Similar to personal or business networks, SCADA and other Industrial Control System (ICS) networks can also be vulnerable to disruption of service or to the manipulation of operational data. Therefore, the risks of cyberthreats for these networks remain high and their need for secure infrastructure is critical.

Established SCADA systems that are running on older operating systems may appear that they are functioning well, however systems that are no longer receiving software and security updates are in fact highly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. Updating outdated SCADA software can be a solution in ensuring the network is secure and complies with simple security standards, such as two-factor authentication or encryption.

Maintaining Consistency and Adaptability Maintaining a consistent SCADA system across multiple or expanding facilities can be a challenge but upgrading can provide the opportunity to establish consistency across the whole network. It will not only assist how the system is supported and maintained; it will also help avoid additional incurred costs in programming older environments within new environments.

Having the flexibility and adaptability to scale systems is extremely important for continued efficiency and future-proofing in the digital era. Therefore, having a system that can adapt to digital transformation will provide a cost-effective and viable solution.

New Features and Outdated Functionality As the industry evolves, new technology is continually introduced and although SCADA systems don’t always require the latest feature, some newer practices can provide significant benefits. For example, having the ability to view a SCADA system via a mobile device is highly desirable and has the advantage of improving productively.

Updating a SCADA system also allows for the opportunity to remove outdated and distracting functionalities that have become redundant due to the development of best practices of the software.

Support and Warranty Having the peace of mind that your SCADA systems are under warranty or having the ability to access support to maximise the value of the system, is the best insurance a company can have. Signing an active support agreement is an option that ensures there is always an expert to rely on, therefore decreasing downtime and expenditure.

SAFEgroup Automation (SGA) is a leading Australian provider of control system engineering services. We believe that every business is different, and our job is to provide the missing resources that will allow your business to achieve your system goals, whether that means applying our skills across a full end-to-end service agreement or simply providing specialist assistance as needed.

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