Principality Consulting Limited

Industrial systems – PLCs and SCADA systems

SCADA screen (c) Treatment Plant Operator

Manufacturing companies often have industrial systems to run machines. The computers that actually make the machines work are called Programmable Logic Controllers, or PLCs. Other systems are then used to produce a graphical representation of the machine which operators use to run the process. These systems are called Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition systems, or SCADA. The screen on the right shows a typical SCADA screen, showing various tank fill levels and parameters that are associated with the tanks.

Specialist companies will create these systems when the machine is built, however SCADA systems will sometimes be added at a later date. They will usually be modified during the life of the equipment to ensure that the operators have the information that they need, when they need it.

System security

The security of these systems is extremely critical, but often overlooked. The principles that govern industrial systems are quite different from a standard office system, as they are designed to keep on running whatever happens. A typical office system will shut down or limit access to data is there is some kind of security breach such as a virus attack. It’s therefore very important that the two types of systems are kept separate with restricted data flows between the two.

The Cyber Essentials scheme is a starting point for ensuring security, however is based around office computers. SCADA systems are often not updated on a monthly basis in the same way as a standard office computer is, as the risk of something breaking during an update is higher, and the consequences are higher too as a broken system can stop production.

How Principality Consulting can help

Principality Consulting have worked with companies to ensure that these systems are managed in a secure manner. Firewalls are used to segregate the industrial systems from the office systems. Data routes are created so that the data held on the SCADA systems is accessible from defined office computers for reporting purposes. These measures will then reduce the risks to all of the systems in a manufacturing plant. You can secure your systems too – call us on 01745 606 161 or email on info@principalityconsulting.com for more information.