SCADA replacement

SCADA Replacement: When is It Time to Upgrade Your SCADA System?

A SCADA system replacement project is one of the most daunting tasks for any pipeline operator. The time commitment, the cost, the requirement for universal buy-in from all stakeholders, and the need to remain operable and compliant during a transition can create significant barriers to upgrade or replace your SCADA system.

In fact, there is a dedicated session to SCADA replacement at this year’s API Cybernetics Symposium in St. Louis that EnerSys will be attending. The discussion will focus on strategies at the early stages of the process to successfully execute an upgrade or switchover.

The key to starting the process is first evaluating the capabilities of your current SCADA system and then identifying the signs that indicate you need to upgrade or replace.

Need immediate support analyzing your current SCADA for pipeline operations? Contact our team to identify SCADA solutions for your control room.

5 Signs That Point to SCADA Replacement

Not all of the following five signs may apply to your pipeline operation. However, if you recognize that your pipeline operation is experiencing issues with multiple items, you should consider starting internal discussions about SCADA replacement.

1. Your Technology is Outdated

If you have not updated your SCADA system in the past 10-15 years, then you should consider internal discussions about the latest technology available for your operation.

Why is this important? Technology has rapidly grown over the past decade. The enhanced capabilities available to operators will make your operation more efficient, safer, and compliant with PHMSA regulations, not to mention the cybersecurity risks of older technology.

2. Controllers Have Difficulty Using Your System

PHMSA implemented the Control Room Management (CRM) Rule in 2010 to help control room managers and controllers operate more safely. Pipeline operators were required to make necessary changes to remain compliant. However, if you are operating on an older SCADA system, the changes may have reduced your team’s efficiency and impacted your ability to remain compliant with the latest regulations.

Why is this important? If your controllers have difficulty performing daily tasks using your existing system or cannot appropriately react to normal or abnormal operating conditions, your operation is wasteful and is exposed to risk. A newer system properly implemented should streamline operations and compliance.

3. Your System is Not Secure

On April 3, the Houston Chronicle Business section detailed several large pipeline companies battling a data breach in their systems for scheduling transportation. According to the report, the data system hacks were caused by cybercriminals.

While this hack did not affect the companies’ SCADA system or physical operations, it does illustrate the increasing cybersecurity threat faced by pipeline operators. Further, in March of this year, the Transportation Safety Administration published Pipeline Security Guidelines to provide operators with additional guidance.

Why is this important? An outdated — or even a current — SCADA system is vulnerable to data invasions. And, with pipeline operators becoming more reliant on their SCADA system for operations, there is an increased risk for one of your sites or the entire system facing an attack.

It is important to run a report about your current system to identify whether you have vulnerabilities. This will help you know whether to have internal discussions about whether to upgrade or replace your SCADA system.

4. Do You Have SCADA Redundancy Capabilities?

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the pipeline industry emphasized the importance of SCADA redundancy to ensure that pipeliners remain operational during a natural disaster or another catastrophic event. 12 years later, Hurricane Harvey revealed new challenges and important lessons about the importance of SCADA redundancy.

Why is this important? If you have not upgraded or replaced your SCADA system since the fallout from Hurricane Katrina, you are not taking advantage of new technology to reduce the risk of a systemwide shutdown, leak, or other problems. The latest technology will help you build a robust and repeatable process so that you can continue operating safely and efficiently under abnormal conditions.

5. Are You Prepared for Disaster Recovery?

Pipeline operators need a disaster recovery plan to ensure operational integrity following a major event. However, if your system is out-of-date, your backup and restoration capabilities may be limited. Or, if your documents and diagrams cannot be linked to your current system, then controllers will not be able to react appropriately.

Why is this important? Controllers need to be equipped to achieve situational awareness so that they can properly identify, analyze, and react to abnormal operating conditions. If your business continuity capabilities, processes, or documentation are not aligned with your SCADA system, then you should consider upgrading or replacing your system.

Consider the POEMS IOC to Support SCADA Replacement

Included in the EnerSys POEMS software suite is the POEMS Intelligence Operator Console (IOC) that provides advanced HMI for pipeline and midstream operators to support new or existing SCADA systems.

The process of implementing the IOC complies with regulatory standards by providing an HMI philosophy, style guide, and design guide for pipeline operations.

Included in the HMI Design Guide is the capability to define your SCADA architecture, security measures, network topology, and information dataflow. This is a critical step to ensure the effectiveness of a new or upgraded SCADA system.

Our team is available to schedule a demo of the IOC software and discuss whether it’s time for SCADA replacement. To schedule a demo, contact our team directly at 281-598-7100 and ask for Dale Schafer. Alternatively, complete our contact form or email our team at to get started.