insert it into any popular SQL database. We
chose Microsoft SQL. The data historian
setup was so easy that we were logging data
in less than 30 minutes. The software had
a nice look and feel, was very intuitive and
all “drag and drop”. The data historian ran
alongside of the legacy SCADA system and
shared the new third party OPC data server.
In March 2008, we updated our master
plan and looked at three SCADA upgrade
options. The choices were to upgrade our
legacy SCADA software, buy a SCADA
package from a different traditional
SCADA supplier, or look for a modern web
based solution. Most of the SCADA solutions
on the market today were designed
10 to 20 years ago, many of them started as
Windows 16 bit applications. In addition,
it is hard to find an independent SCADA
supplier. Most of the leading companies
have been bought out by larger corporations,
which now have internal competing
SCADA solutions. This creates a problem
for the water utility in that their SCADA
software is no longer being improved,
may be twisted or squeezed to look like
the parent company’s SCADA solution,
or even worse, support is simply dropped
without any conversion path.
To help in the decision of which upgrade
option to choose, we came up with a set of
design goals that we wanted from the new
• Open, flexible, scalable;
• Unlimited connections and tags;
• No complex upgrades;
• Installed in house;
• Compatibility with IT technology;
• Multiple PLC protocols;
• Cost effective;
• Run on future OS; and
• Enhanced reporting.
In January 2009, we decided to move forward.
Helix already had a solid communication
server, database, and data historian in place.
The supplier of the data historian also had
a web-server SCADA solution and because
the historian worked so well, we decided to
pilot test their web-server SCADA solution
and see if it met our goals. The pilot test
lasted 60 days; the software performed very
well. We purchased a copy and began cutting
over our distribution system. As we worked
with the solution we began to see how truly
powerful, open and cost effective it was.
The software has built-in Java clustering
technology. This creates a high availability
SCADA solution with no custom hardware,
software, or any client license files.
The only additional cost is for the second
copy of the web server. The software is
scalable in very large systems and more
servers can be added to the cluster as the
The software uses a powerful SQL database.
No longer do we see black gaps of lost data,
or have to wait long periods of time for a
weekly or monthly trend to finish filling.
Another benefit is that the system allows
for multiple screen development.
The software has an active screen builder.
The data is collected and displayed on a
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