Because of the cost associated with an in-house SCADA system, many water management facilities, especially rural ones, simply operate without SCADA. But times and technology have changed, and the cost of remote monitoring and alarming is a lot less expensive than you might think.
Remote monitoring and telemetry have come a long way. Because of the cloud, SCADA is affordable and simple. SCADA no longer requires a lot of manpower or technical expertise. With eLynx’s cloud-based SCADA solution, many water district facilities are discovering a SCADA system is easily within their reach.
The backend work to get an in-house SCADA system up and running will cost a water facility anywhere between $25,000 and $50,000. In-house systems require the purchase of an initial license and the purchase of automation software and hardware, like servers and computers. Moreover, in-house systems require having full-time employees to perform networking, build HMI screens, perform routine patches, and maintain hardware. Most water districts do not have the budget for that.
Water facilities utilizing eLynx’s cloud-based SCADA have been able to get up and running with total costs from as low as $5,000 to $20,000. Installation generally takes a few days. Monitor and control your assets in real time with eLynx SCADA.
If there is a piece of control equipment in the field that eLynx can reuse, then it will get repurposed. We will not make you replace your current automation hardware if there is nothing wrong with it. Many SCADA providers find it more convenient, and profitable, to make customers replace all their hardware. It is not always necessary, and it is definitely not green.
If we do have to add hardware to your system, we use cost-effective hardware that is fit for its purpose. Ten years ago, there were only four major players in the programmable logic controller (PLC) market. Now, there are a lot of other manufacturers with quality products. If eLynx has to install a PLC, we choose to use the ones that are $1,600 less expensive than the name brand PLCs.
A current water facility operator was able to begin their SCADA journey with eLynx for just $5,000. We were able to reuse a lot of the equipment they had on hand. The customer has two pumps they are now able to monitor. The water facility operators can now monitor inflow and outflow pressures, monitor the pump PLC for various alarms, and remotely reset the pump PLCs.
Another water facility customer with two pump stations and five remote water towers got started with eLynx SCADA for around $19,000. This customer was newer to telemetry and needed more equipment. Their towers were standalone without power. Therefore, we had to put in solar, which can be expensive. eLynx established communications with previously installed PLCs to pull data from.
The person that installs a PLC has to have a software license to access the program. Software licenses per year per person can cost around $1,200. The PLC software eLynx utilizes is free. The software is free to download off the Internet.
Most in-house SCADA systems require a lot of backend work to get them up and running. Hiring a service provider to build HMI screens is costly. With the eLynx application, user interfaces are built-in to the system.
The eLynx Dashboards are designed to be user-friendly and economical. You don’t have to hire someone to build HMI screens because they have already been built in the eLynx application. Mobile access to the eLynx application is included at no extra charge.
With in-house systems, the process of adding a well, pump, or tower to SCADA is tedious. First, you have to call the people who installed the system initially. Worst of all, it can take up to two weeks to get something added--not to mention the expense. Oftentimes, water facilities have to pay a yearly service fee to the SCADA company for access to customer service.
eLynx is known for outstanding customer service. When you need monitoring or alarms added, making the changes in the software is as simple as one phone call. Your asset can be added right then and there. We do charge an hourly rate, but if it only takes 20 minutes to get an asset added, eLynx charges for 20 minutes—not an entire hour.
With the eLynx system, redundancy is built-into the cloud application. There is no need to purchase backup servers in order to gain redundancy. You will not get quoted for redundant servers from eLynx.
Additionally, with an in-house SCADA system, a water facility needs to have someone on-prem to manually push patches to the system to ensure the software is up to date with current bug fixes. In-house SCADA systems are more susceptible to cyber breeches, like the attack on Colonial Pipeline. The reason is poor security hygiene practices. The attack on Colonial took place because a former employee's username and password were never deleted from the system.
Cloud control systems like the eLynx application push patches and iterations to the system automatically. eLynx has documentation and processes for deleting accounts that have been inactive within a certain timeframe. Read more about eLynx’s security and business continuity measures here.
When communications go down or an existing device is not updating, it can be expensive to pay for a technician to come out and remedy the issue. Many SCADA providers do not like to troubleshoot on the phone with customers. The excuse you will hear will sound something like, “This isn’t the right way to find the problem. We might be able to put a Band-Aid on it over the phone.”
By sending a technician out, SCADA providers get to charge for the technician’s time and expertise. eLynx never charges to troubleshoot with customers remotely. Standard operating procedure at eLynx begins with troubleshooting over the phone.
We try to walk the customer through each troubleshooting step. If the problem cannot be fixed over the phone, we do our best to diagnose the issue ahead of time. Knowing what the problem is helps our technicians know what parts to bring with them into the field. That way our technician can fix the problem the first time and not make multiple trips, saving the customer time and money.
The water sector is most familiar with on-prem SCADA solutions, which is why water facilities assume that SCADA systems are so expensive. Cloud-based SCADA systems are the solution to affordability and scalability. With a cloud-based SCADA solution, water facility operators can afford to remotely monitor assets with real time data. Find out more by booking a session with one of our specialists.
September 18, 2023