A. Access Control
Users are allocated to groups, which have defined read/write access privileges to the process parameters in the system and often also to specific product functionality.
The products support multiple screens, which can contain combinations of synoptic diagrams and text. They also support the concept of a “generic” graphical object with links to process variables. These objects can be “dragged and dropped” from a library and included into a synoptic diagram. Most of the SCADA products that were evaluated decompose the process in “atomic” parameters (e.g. a power supply current, its maximum value, it‟s on/off status, etc.) to which a Tag-name is associated. The Tag-names used to link graphical objects‟ to devices can be edited as required. The products include a library of standard graphical symbols, many of which would however not be applicable to the type of applications encountered in the experimental physics community.
Standard windows editing facilities are provided: zooming, re-sizing, scrolling… On-line configuration and customization of the MMI is possible for users with the appropriate privileges. Links can be created between display pages to navigate from one view to another.
The products all provide trending facilities and one can summaries the common capabilities as follows:
- The parameters to be trended in a specific chart can be predefined or defined on-line.
- A chart may contain more than 8 trended parameters or pens and an unlimited number of charts can be displayed (restricted only by the readability).
- Real-time and historical trending are possible, although generally not in the same chart.
- Historical trending is possible for any archived parameter.
- Zooming and scrolling functions are provided.
- Parameter values at the cursor position can be displayed. The trending feature is either provided as a separate module or as a graphical object (ActiveX), which can then be embedded into a synoptic display. XY and other statistical analysis plots are generally not provided.
D. Alarm Handling
Alarm handling is based on limit and status checking and performed in the data servers. More complicated expressions (using arithmetic or logical expressions) can be developed by creating derived parameters on which status or limit checking is then performed. The alarms are logically handled centrally, i.e., the information only exists in one place and all users see the same status (e.g., the acknowledgement), and multiple alarm priority levels (in general many more than 3 such levels) are supported. It is generally possible to group alarms and to handle these as an entity (typically filtering on group or acknowledgement of all alarms in a group). Furthermore, it is possible to suppress alarms either individually or as a complete group. The filtering of alarms seen on the alarm page or when viewing the alarm log is also possible at least on priority, time and group. However, relationships between alarms cannot generally be defined in a straightforward manner. E- mails can be generated or predefined actions automatically executed in response to alarm conditions.
The terms logging and archiving are often used to describe the same facility. However, logging can be thought of as medium-term storage of data on disk, whereas archiving is long-term storage of data either on disk or on another permanent storage medium. Logging is typically performed on a cyclic basis, i.e., once a certain file size, time period or number of points is reached the data is overwritten. Logging of data can be performed at a set frequency, or only initiated if the value changes or when a specific predefined event occurs. Logged data can be transferred to an archive once the log is full. The logged data is time-stamped and can be filtered when viewed by a user. The logging of user actions is in general performed together with either a user ID or station ID. There is often also a VCR facility to play back archived data.
F. Report Generation
One can produce reports using SQL type queries to the archive, RTDB or logs. Although it is sometimes possible to embed EXCEL charts in the report, a “cut and paste” capability is in general not provided. Facilities exist to be able to automatically generate print and archive reports.
The majority of the products allow actions to be automatically triggered by events. A scripting language provided by the SCADA products allows these actions to be defined. In general, one can load a particular display, send an Email, run a user defined application or script and write to the RTDB.
The concept of recipes is supported, whereby a particular system configuration can be saved to a file and then re-loaded at a later date. Sequencing is also supported whereby, as the name indicates, it is possible to execute a more complex sequence of actions on one or more devices. Sequences may also react to external events. Some of the products do support an expert system but none has the concept of a Finite State Machine (FSM).