SCADA & PLC Training Course

The project that I am currently involved with requires me and the Electrical, Instrument & Control team to undergo an accelerated training course and workshop for Citect SCADA and Unity Pro PLC. The primary reason for this was to do the integration in-house. The course was compressed to fit into 5 days, 7AM – 5PM, it should have more than a week for a normal course. Considering the location and traffic, each day will be a long day.

SCADADaily Course Break Down

  1. Day 1 / 2 – Citect SCADA Configuration Course
  2. Day 3 – Citect SCADA Networking and Architecture Course
  3. Day 4 – Unity Pro Configuration Course
  4. Day 5 – Unity Pro / Citect SCADA Workshop

As I am an “Electrical Only” professional, I did not really have any previous involvement in SCADA systems. For PLCs, I was able to do some commissioning and programming of a GE PLC in 1986. Other than that, I am a newbie in this technology but surely it will open new avenues for me technically.

Daily Diary
Day 1 – 26 October 2009
My schedule need to be adjusted at least 30min advance to be able to catch the pool taxi at the office at 6:30AM going to the training venue. Unfortunately, the booked taxi did not arrive. The team were forced to walk to a nearby taxi stand to catch a taxi. Luckily, we were only 10 minutes late. As it was the first day, training did not start at once.

The pacing of the training was considerably fast. Some topics truly caught my attention particularly in SCADA communications. I said to myself, I will love this as this will enhanced my current knowledge in computer networking with additional communication protocols.

To summarize the day:

  • introduction of participants
  • introduction to Citect SCADA
  • Learned how to use create, debug and compile a project using Citect Project Explorer, Graphic Editor, Run Time Environment.
  • Learned how to setup a SCADA computer, create Graphics and activeX components.

Day 2 – 27 October 2009
This is another long day. We continued to do SCADA configuration. We have enabled animated graphics, configure devices, alarms and trends.

We have also done a plant tour including the display of building automation, intelligent lighting and gadgets which are all “green”, meaning, they all have reduced power consumption relative to conventional types.

Day 3 – 28 October 2009
I am feeling the fatigue now but I need to keep going. Even my fellow participants are getting exhausted.

This day is not too tiring as the previous days though. We did a wrap up on the SCADA system and went into a new topic Networking. On the previous two days, we run SCADA only as a stand alone system. Today we will be testing it on a network.

There was a glitch when we connected all the participants on a network. We are suppose to have two clusters but unfortunately, IT department turn-off one of the manage switches without the informing our trainer thus there is a little bit of trouble shooting done. All is well, that ends well.

Each participant’s machine was assigned some roles. Such as I/O server, report server, alarm server or trend server. The project did have some errors when compiled as it was done on a previous version of Citect SCADA. We did some debugging and finally the project went on “Running”. We had a Pulp Processing plant running.

The beauty about networked SCADA, is that, if one terminal did some adjustment, all the other terminal will be able to see, the changes. Truly, I never had been into this before. Thus despite the fatigue, I am loving it.

Day 4 – 29 October 2009
Today, we have configured a redundant SCADA system using primary and standby (I/O, Alarm, Trend, Report and Time) Servers.

There was a glitch on one of the clusters due to some file path problems. The file paths on the primary I/O Server was different from the standby server thus the standby I/O server does not kicks in when the primary server is cut off from the network.

We also started Unity PRO today. It was very different from what I knew from old school but anyway, the principle is still the same.

Day 5 – 30 October 2009
This is the final day. I am now getting some information overload. We have done Unity PRO PLC programming creating function blocks and derived function blocks. My brain is already full of information that I could not cope up with the fast pace of the training anymore. I almost gave just before the end of the training because my program kept on giving errors when I compile. I correct one, but gives up more errors and warning. I just deleted totally the project, then created it from scratch going through the steps one by one asking some help from my tutor.

All is well ends well. It is just that I was not able to finish up the SCADA interface. I know the principle though so I will just have to do some simulation on my own free time.

What cause me to almost burn-out? First, the digital input module of my PLC is not functioning. A technician have looked at it but due to time constraints, he just decided not to fix it. This makes me inutile to do practical interfacing with my PLC as I could not get any input. The final resort was to replace my PLC unit.

Due to this delays, and to the fast paced of the training, I almost got a burn out.

As a evaluation of the training, I could give it 7 of 10. The tutor is very knowledgeable, good materials but compressing it to fewer days than normal is not a good idea. Likewise, having some defective equipment is detrimental to the trainee.

Food is good, but the place is just to far from the city that after 9 hours of training daily, I feel exhausted.