A German software developer and systems integrator has developed a mobile SCADA system based on BlackBerry smartphones. Hamburg-based Schad says that its Extend 7000 system, which relies on Java applications running on the BlackBerries, can control and monitor industrial processes controlled by Siemens S7 PLCs.
The handheld devices (shown above) can be used, for example, to:
• monitor variable such as speeds, temperatures or pressures;
• check signal conditions without needing to communicate with plant operators;
• receive alarm signals automatically;
• access plans and instructions for maintenance purposes; and
• evaluate trends and identify faulty devices.
According to Schad, the BlackBerry infrastructure allows data to be exchanged safely and reliably using 256-bit encryption. The handheld devices do not need a wide bandwidth, allowing them to be used even in areas where the mobile infrastructure is limited.
In one pilot installation, the Blackberry-based system is being used at a plant near Düsseldorf in Germany which produces 12,000 tonnes of wood pellets each year for use in domestic burners. The plant has a staff of just four people who keep in touch with each other wirelessly using their BlackBerries. The Schad technology allows them to receive alerts, solve problems and view the status of the site’s machinery on their handheld screens. Because every action they perform is logged, it can later be audited and used for tracking.
Initially, Schad’s system is being launched in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and is due to reach the UK later this year.