Iridium Satellite and SCADA System Communication

Monitoring the performance of a complex utility system requires reliable communication. It may be possible to work with a local wireless network or cellular network for smaller areas. However, these solutions may not provide sufficient coverage for larger systems. For reliable communication and real-time monitoring, many organizations look to the heavens for solutions enabled by satellite technology.

Real-Time Monitoring with a SCADA System

A supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system is a tool for monitoring and controlling a complex system from a single location. These systems began in industrial settings where sensors sent information to a central terminal. Managers could see the system’s current status and address problems quickly. At this point, communication was confined to a local network.

As information technology improved, the possibilities for effective SCADA systems increased. Cellular networks allowed data to flow from sensors over long distances. Utility companies could monitor larger systems like a water distribution network. Empowered by SCADA technology, they could send repair crews into the field more efficiently and prevent service disruptions.

Satellite technology represents the next level in reliable communication. The network of 66 iridium satellites in low-earth orbit allows information to travel anywhere in the world in real-time. This arrangement resolves several of the issues of older communications solutions.

The Benefits of Working with Iridium Communications

Floating far above the earth’s surface, data packets flow back and forth within the Iridium communications network. The company has positioned its satellites to relay information between any two points in the world with minimal delay. While Iridium may be best known for its satellite phone technology, the same system can also facilitate real-time monitoring for a SCADA system.

Remote Monitoring

Geological features like mountains and valleys can make cell service unreliable in some areas. Regions with low populations may also have fewer accessible towers. A satellite communications system is unaffected by these issues. This technology allows for SCADA applications in previously inaccessible locations.

System Redundancy

If a cell tower sustains damage or fails, it will affect communications over a large area. The Iridium network is designed for redundancy. If data fails to transfer to the closest satellite, the system immediately works around the problem and sends the signal to its nearest neighbor. This flexibility means minimal disruption for SCADA systems.

Reliable Communications

Hurricanes and other powerful storms can damage equipment and disrupt cellular signals. Satellites orbit at altitudes where they are unaffected by weather events. Heavy precipitation can temporarily weaken the link between a ground antenna and a satellite, but extended disruptions are rare. The satellite communications system will transmit before, during, and after a dangerous storm.

Real-Time Data

SCADA systems rely on real-time information about equipment and conditions. Wastewater management utilities need immediate information about changes in water pressure and runoff volume. Addressing issues quickly can prevent expensive damage and environmental hazards.

Cloud-based SCADA systems significantly benefit from satellite connections because teams in the field can also access the data when cell service is not an option. When looking for a potential leak or a failing pump, the team can pinpoint the location and repair the equipment without returning to their home base. With a well-designed system, an employee’s smartphone or tablet will receive satellite data and act as the human-machine interface.

An Experienced Partner for SCADA Applications

High Tide Technologies develops and supports cloud-based SCADA systems for clients in the water, wastewater, and gas and oil management industries. Our team builds solutions that use cellular, satellite, or a combination of the two networks to maintain effective communications. A SCADA system that uses the right communications technology will increase efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and improve customer satisfaction. Contact our team today to learn more about incorporating cloud-based SCADA technology into your organization.