Operating Remote Assets

1 April, 2020 | Blog

Jean-François Beaulieu

Jean-François Beaulieu

Integration Analyst

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Serge Benoit, ing.

Serge Benoit, P.Eng.

Automation, Telecommunications and Operational Excellence

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Operating a remote site is a major challenge for many companies in the mining and metals and energy industries. Some of the issues they face include:

  • Low bandwidth or the lack of a redundant link to access information from remote assets.
  • The scarcity of expertise near remote assets.
  • The difficulty of assembling an integrated team of experts capable of supervising several geographically dispersed assets.
  • The high labour turnover rate.
  • High costs for transportation, accommodation and ensuring the security of the people and facilities.
  • Recruiting qualified employees available on a rotational basis.
  • Health and safety for remote workers.

In order to reduce the impact of these challenges, more and more companies are choosing to operate and monitor remote assets from a distance.

The key: Being prepared

Implementing a remote operating strategy should not be improvised. The following diagram represents an architectural design capable of supporting this type of operation.

There are technologies available today that allow these robust solutions to be implemented efficiently:

  • DNP3, 61850 and other protocols optimized for remote SCADA:
    • Use very little bandwidth.
    • In the event of communication loss, all data is buffered and recovered when telecommunications are restored.
    • Provides quick access to data.
    • Allows you to set up a data access gateway to mobile devices, analysis tools or other devices.
  • The company’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system allows for:
    • Standardization between the company’s various sites.
    • Comparative analysis between sites.
    • Coaching and training via a virtual representation of physical assets (digital twin).

Avoiding traps

It is important, however, that we avoid falling into the trap of using technology blindly. Certain actions must be considered to ensure projects are successful.

Here are a few good practices to follow:

  • Set up an adequate document management system
  • Establish SCADA selection criteria
  • Identify exception criteria and criteria for historical data compression
  • Identify criteria for configuring the communication protocol
  • Plan to host certain modules in the cloud
  • Review the strategy for work and task distribution

Conclusion

Connectivity and technology allow remote assets to be operated from a distance, something that seemed impossible just a few years ago

To carry out these tasks requires a methodical approach, technological proficiency and an excellent knowledge of the activities that will be “relocated”. You can count on the BBA team to help you get the job done.

This content is for general information purposes only. All rights reserved ©BBA

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