The power of the Web

Web-based SCADA infrastructures can deliver significant benefits and cost savings, according to Eduard van Loenen of Yokogawa’s Global SCADA Center. Loosely coupled with the operating system, a true web-based server and client architecture, he says, can provide easy remote access and security enhancements for deploying reliable graphic and application services.

Moreover, van Loenen believes that the intrinsically transparent nature of web technology, combined with its independence and flexibility, makes it easy to adapt SCADA to the most advanced IT security techniques.

“The platform independence of web-based SCADA systems makes them sufficiently flexible to run on computer devices with different operating systems to increase accessibility and maintainability across the system and to secure previously made application investments,” the expert said. This, he added, can be done by using Java as the core software technology, which makes the SCADA client environment available as an independent application or as an applet in a web browser or on devices such as Java phones, PDAs or iMacs.

According to van Loenen, modern telecommunications technology means that physical barriers can easily be removed, and information accessed in a highly flexible way.

Specific user groups, such as management, finance, operations, logistics and maintenance, can, therefore, receive information relevant to their particular interests and needs.

“It is important to note that ‘web based’ is not the same as ‘web where often only a limited part of its functionality is made available through a web portal on top,” the Yokogawa manager cautioned. “Truly web-based SCADA systems are designed and built to run completely in a web environment, which allows access to all the functionality of the SCADA system with only browser technology at the desktop level.

“Such systems offer increased responsiveness and interactivity – achieved by exchanging small amounts of data with the server ‘behind the scenes’. The only information exchanged is that associated with the role and specified area of interest of a particular user.”

Further cost reductions can be achieved by utilising web technology when installing and maintaining the SCADA visualisation environment on remote clients over the system communication infrastructure. This functionality, which is