More and more, we’re seeing operations organizations virtualizing critical industrial automation (IA) applications such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and human machine interface (HMI) historians. And whether virtualizing these systems or not, many companies choose to run their applications on fault-tolerant HMI/SCADA systems. Here are three examples of why:

Water and wastewater treatment facility

A municipal water and wastewater treatment facility struggled with declining income due to a shrinking tax base. On top of that, the EPA was tightening regulations, such as regular testing of field wells and other water sources and assurance of no data loss. Another big concern was control room “blindness” due to unplanned downtime of its SCADA systems.

By virtualizing and running their SCADA systems on always-on Stratus ftServers, the facility eliminated unplanned downtime. The facility also was able to demonstrate to regulatory auditors that continuous data availability was ensured. Plus, virtualizing reduced software licensing costs and the self-healing features of ftServers saved on staffing otherwise needed for system monitoring and support. As a result, the municipality ensures high water quality and satisfies EPA regulations all on a tight budget.


Paper and packaging manufacturer

This scenario involves a manufacturing plant specializing in kraft-style paper and packaging. The company was running manufacturing execution system (MES) and sales order processing (SOP) applications on 20-year-old legacy systems. Their biggest concern was unplanned downtime, which cost the business $33,000 per hour.

The company replaced its legacy systems with Stratus always-on ftServers running state-of-the-art MES and SOP applications. Unplanned downtime is now a thing of the past. The Stratus systems are easy to operate and support, so the plant no longer needs IT staff on call. And, continuous operations without any line stoppages helped the company increase profitability.


Natural gas transmission company

A major natural gas transmission company operates about 80 compression stations along thousands of miles of pipeline. Most of their stations are in remote locations with limited space and power. Their existing SCADA/HMI infrastructure simply wasn’t built for those difficult conditions, and servers started to fail, causing downtime of two or three days each time.

So the company virtualized and now runs multiple IA applications on a single Stratus ftServer. This eliminated the downtime problem. It also reduced the number of servers at each compression station from eight to one, which decreased their IT expenditures significantly at the remote sites. Plus, the company eliminated data loss. This is critical to their predictive analytics systems, which tell them when equipment requires maintenance to avoid catastrophic failures.

This is a small sampling of how virtualization and fault tolerance benefit both SCADA/HMI and analytics. In fact, data availability of analytics is becoming one of the most important requirements in today’s modern operations environments—a trend that we’re seeing across all segments in the IA space.


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