18 Mar 2020

Solutions for Remote Operations

Methods to employ to optimize your businesses ability to function using remote operations:

Project Continuity
In-office tools such as video conferencing and VPN access to electronic resources have become commonplace in our industry. Other tasks such as inspections, equipment testing, and drawing reviews are more challenging when executing projects remotely. The integrity of the data pipeline in these situations can be paramount.

Catch has the skills and resources to use technology, such as remote video interfaces and shared document management, to allow standard project procedures to continue with minimum interruption or any impact on quality or schedule.

Remote Access and Operation
Remote access to facility control systems is an important operational tool, specifically for applications that may not be manned 24/7. While not all operational tasks are possible to perform remotely, providing simple remote access to facility control systems for critical staff can greatly enhance efficiency – personnel can evaluate system performance and abnormal conditions prior to physical travel, thereby improving problem resolution time and reducing labour costs, particularly for facilities in difficult-to-access or remote locations.

Proper application of remote access to control systems includes three (3) main pillars, including a) network equipment and architecture, b) security protocol and c) control system interface design (e.g. virtualization).

Catch Engineering has extensive experience in remote access design for facilities of varying type, size, and function; we can assist in implementing such methodologies both for permanent use, as well as temporary/short-term requirements.

Remote Alarming / Callouts
A properly-designed remote alarming / callout system is imperative to inform remote operations staff of abnormal facility conditions; this requires both reliable communications infrastructure to deliver the alarming / callout information but, more importantly, an alarm philosophy following best-practice application. Too often, alarm system implementation/definition for callout systems are inadequately-applied; this can manifest as a nuisance, ambiguous or confusing alarm system operation, resulting in operator complacency and inefficiencies in response time and mitigation action to abnormal facility conditions.

Catch Engineering has experience in proper design and application of remote alarm systems following the recommendations of accepted industry standards (such as ANSI/ISA 18.2). We can apply this experience both to the design of new systems, or rationalization of existing systems, as well as ensure communications infrastructure operates with a reliability-level suited to the critical remote alarm system application.

Remote Network Throughput
Data transfer to/from remote control systems, particularly at facilities with network limitations due to geographical location, must be properly-designed to limit stress on network system throughput. Continuous transmission of all facility data is often not required, particularly values, states and conditions which are stagnant/stable under normal operating conditions. Employing well-designed data transfer techniques, such as reporting-by-exception, can ensure that only data that is changing and relevant is included within communications, thereby reducing network throughput and improving system performance.

Catch Engineering has extensive experience in optimizing the efficiency of remote network links, particularly for remote facility locations constrained by low-throughput satellite or cellular data links. This includes the effective design of continuous/periodic data transfer requirements to SCADA systems, as well as proper design of links for remote operator interface access via virtualization methodologies.

If you would like to gain a better understanding of these methods for remote operation or have immediate questions or concerns, please contact Joel Heal at (403) 836-1725.

“REEL in the excellence, CAPTURE the expertise.” – Catch Engineering