We use SCADA systems across our fleet of gas compressors, where they provide an interface through which engineers can control the equipment, see the status of the system and access data for analysing or archiving.
Most of the SCADA systems currently in use are unique to each compressor station, so any upgrade or maintenance work is bespoke to each site. The intellectual property rights for the technology belong to the system manufacturers, rather than us, so we are wholly reliant on suppliers or their licensed agents for service support. This locks us into their terms, conditions and costs, with little freedom to make our own modifications if required using in-house expertise. It also prevents us from being able to shop around for support if needed.
Working with Lagoni Engineering Ltd, we developed and trialled our own Open Source software for the SCADA control system. This not only overcomes these issues but makes the system more secure by removing many of the potential vulnerabilities the legacy system may have included.
The new Open Source system puts us in charge of the technology, takes up significantly less physical room, is cheaper and simpler to secure and upgrade, and is highly flexible and customisable. The result is a solution that is fully upgradeable and maintainable and provides a common, holistic approach to SCADA strategy across the fleet.
These projects have not only simplified and streamlined National Grid’s approach to SCADA system upgrades and replacements but have ensured National Grid is compliant and aligned to the latest cyber security standards.
Throughout the RIIO-2 price control period, National Grid requires 24 sites to be upgraded. These projects have meant that National Grid has requested far less funding than would have been previously been required, following a traditional cyber and control project methodology. After the NIA project costs, this has resulted in a £14.6m cost saving to the consumer over the 5-year RIIO-2 price control period.