SMADA is a new concept, or rather a twist on the traditional SCADA concept, introduced by Tory Technologies, Inc., in response to the demand for a more comprehensive solution for managing volumetric metering systems independent from SCADA.
A typical SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) is designed to acquire real-time or near real-time process data from the field and display it in some form of HMI to controllers in a control room. It is also designed to allow the controllers to send commands to the field to execute actions like opening and closing valves, starting and stopping pumps, and many other control routines.
In a pipeline or gathering system, the data acquired by SCADA may also include flow/volume measurement data from the flow computers providing real-time measurement as the fluids are injected into the system and extracted from it. While SCADA systems gather field data in real-time either by exception or periodically every few seconds or minutes; specialized measuring systems on the field are sampling the same data (pressure, temp, flow), multiple times per second, and that data is actually the one required to perform volumetric calculations. Such data is known as Electronic Flow Measurement (EFM). EFM data is very important to operating companies because it is the basis for invoicing the services provided to their clients. Therefore, in many cases, the data gathered by the SCADA system is either not sufficient or does not represent the true state of the flow measurement network as needed for invoicing.
EFM data path with SCADA
Because of the SCADA shortfalls when it comes to EFM data, the groups responsible for the volumetric accounting must rely on auxiliary SCADA modules, 3rd party systems, spreadsheets, and other forms of external post-processing of the SCADA data to obtain the ultimate EFM data needed for accounting. This process may lead to incorrect, tainted, or unreliable data.
Furthermore, the measurement specialists typically don’t have a reliable mechanism for validating the data generated by the Flow Computers delivered through the SCADA system, and the company management does not have an easy way to consolidate all the data to obtain high-level KPIs to truly understand the whole picture, track revenue or isolate unproductive systems.
Another important downside of using SCADA and manual post-processing for EFM is the potential lack of traceability and auditability of the information. EFM accounting data is highly sensitive, and as such, the life-cycle of the data must be traceable and auditable, so the company can demonstrate transparency to their clients, auditors, and investors.
Here’s where the concept of SMADA comes in. Technically, SMADA stands for Supervisory Measurement Acquisition and Data Analytics. As the acronym suggests, it provides measurement data acquisition capabilities and integrated data analytics specifically for volumetric accounting. Simple and to the point.
SMADA is designed to specifically attend to the needs of the measurement groups within the pipeline or production company without having to rely on the SCADA system. SCADA is left for what it was designed for: real-time process monitoring and process control. SMADA focuses on EFM providing the following features:
- Automatic EFM data gathering directly from the source (flow computers, tanks, and laboratories)
- Focus on daily closing data snapshots (real-time data gathering is not critical)
- User high-frequency data sampling in flow computers for accurate calculations.
- Alternative mechanisms for secure manual data entry when automatic data is not possible
- Built-in algorithms to validate EFM data based on API best practices and recommendations
- Built-in tools to perform volumetric balances of closed systems
- Traceability and auditability of the entire data life-cycle
- Access control and segregation of duties.
- Advanced data analytics and KPIs
- Tools for maintenance and calibration of EFM-related instrumentation and equipment
- APIs or other mechanisms to share output data with external systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
SMADA in the cloud
The SMADA concept is made possible by technological advances in data communication, Internet access speed, Internet of Things (IoT), standardization of EFM data, www standards, cloud computing, and many others. Despite its traditionally conservative approach, the oil and gas industry is accelerating the pace of migrating systems and solutions to the cloud and adopting concepts like software as a service (SaaS).
The SMADA concept is fully realized when implemented in the cloud as an IoT ecosystem. Cloud-based solutions offer the following advantages:
- Cost-effective high-availability IT infrastructure; providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are making the migration to the cloud a no-brainer decision from the cost point of view.
- Easy access anywhere, anytime. Having SMADA in the cloud allows easy access to the system from anywhere at any time with a simple internet connection.
- Integration web services. Secure web services APIs to integrate applications in different clouds.
SMADA is not free of challenges and its implementation must be carefully orchestrated to ensure the underlying drivers are fulfilled, that is, automatism, ease of use, reliability, security, and auditability.
Since it’s still a new concept, SMADA is still evolving and adapting as companies go through the implementation of existing and new pipelines. The Colombian national oil company ECOPETROL is one of the pioneers in the implementation of a SMADA solution. In early 2018, ECOPETROL started an initiative to evaluate and implement a SMADA solution for their entire production network. Other companies in the region are also starting the process of evaluating SMADA implementations separate from their SCADA solutions.