US Utility migration from old SCADA having 16K+ connections, after ensuring complete cut-over testing using ASE2000 simulator

Kalkitech December 25, 2023

Customer: American Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) providing gas and electricity

Industry: Electric Utility 

Scale: Testing needed for the 16K+ connections to ensure the migration

Business Case: 

The US utility / IOU, one of the largest in the USA combining Electric and gas utilities, among the top 100 global clean energy providers, wanted to do SCADA cut-over, do migration from the existing SCADA system communicating with close to 20,000 RTUs. The protocol used for communication between SCADA and RTUs was either DNP3 and a custom Utility specific protocol. The customer wanted to test all the connections and data points of RTUs with the new SCADA virtually before going live with the real RTUs. This would ensure smooth migration with the new SCADA connected to the real RTUs. Following were the key requirements

  • The new SCADA should be able to poll all the RTUs identical to the existing SCADA
  • The transition from existing SCADA to the new SCADA should be seamless
  • The new SCADA should be completely lab tested before deployment

The Solution: 

For lab testing the new SCADA, entire close to 20,000 RTUs should be simulated in the lab environment with the corresponding protocol and data. The SCADA should also be for all the communication, data acquisition, and execution of the commands. The simulation of all the scenarios was done using the ASE2000 protocol simulator with corresponding nodes simulated as DNP3 / custom utility protocol. The following were the key points of the simulation environment.

  • ASE2000 multiple instances were run in Virtual Machines and multiple VMs were run in the server-class machine to simulate 16K RTUs.
  • RTUs were simulated with either DNP3 or custom vendor protocol corresponding to the actual field condition and addresses.
  • RTUs were simulated using predefined input files with addresses, communication parameters, and points for creating a controlled and easy simulation environment.
  • The only change introduced was to use TCP/IP communication instead of RS232 / RS485 transfer for ensuring the scalability of the system and testing.
  • The facility was provided for command-line execution with arguments for complete automated testing.

Key Benefits:

  • The simulation environment ensured that the configuration in the new SCADA to communicate & exchange data with the new RTUs was perfect before migration to real RTUs.
  • The simulation environment ensured the new SCADA scalability and ensured test conditions for more than 25% of the maximum load conditions. 
  • The ASE simulation ensured the new SCADA works in every aspect related to different protocol scenarios of event handling, command execution, and multiple scenarios of communication failures and recovery.
  • The simulation environment also reduced the failures in real deployment scenarios and thereby reduced the losses due to the same.

Scalability & Repeatability:

The solution offered is scalable to any level. This solution is completely repeatable with any protocol combinations and can be adapted to any similar requirements.

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