People Meter : Selling SCADA
Telvent's Jose de la Fuente talks about SCADA and business development
Jose de la Fuente, GCC area manager for Telvent Environment, talks about SCADA systems and developing business in the region.
Is the GCC an important market for Telvent’s SCADA business?
Yes, and in the Middle East things happen very fast. Despite the downturn, the market is moving very fast, and the scale of projects here are very nice. You don’t find projects of this size in Europe or even in the US.
How are new technologies received by utilities in the region?
Very well, very well, there is a lot of tradition to be open to new technology, and for new contractors to come into the picture. It is very easy to arrange meeting to broadcast our solutions, Utilities here are keen on having new players in the SCADA picture.
How do you aim to grow your regional business?
There are three important factors when we think about growth. One is to gain business from existing clients, we need our clients to keep on placing orders. A good example here is Kahramaa.
[The Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation, responsible for the regulation of the water industry] After delivering the SCADA system for their new National Water Control Center in Doha, they also placed a second contract for leak detection systems with us.
The second pillar is to broadcast our solutions and expertise to the end user and to their technical bodies. That’s why we are visiting them, hold workshops, and are doing web seminars.
Third pillar is to address right local partner, to establish long term reliable alliances with small local companies. Need to rely on local expertise of companies here for project execution.
Take the National Water Control Center in Doha. We built that in partnership with the Nass Group, one of the leaders in Bahrain for civil work and construction.
They’ve done the building and installation works, we brought in the SCADA, the instrumentation, the project management capabilities. Nass is the kind of company we like, because they know a lot about construction, and we’re not a construction company.
How important is sustainability for your clients?
Sustainability is very much linked to SCADA. You can, for instance, associate carbon footprint with leakages. Every cubic meter has a carbon footprint, generated from producing it from wells or desalination plants, and by distributing it.
By preventing or finding leakages we are reducing the carbon footprint. SCADA has always had broad capabilities, but market now demands us to be more focused on sustainability. Sustainability is one of key elements on designing the networks here in the GCC, as the trend now is to be less dependent on the carbon industry.
What is bigger business for Telvent in the Middle East, water or power?
Traditionally, power projects have more volume in the Middle East, but due to the growth rhythm that we are facing in the GCC countries, there are water projects coming up with a considerable volume.
Power will still have more volume because the capital investment is much higher than with traditional water projects, but we are looking at a very reasonable size of projects in the water sector.
Has the role of SCADA systems in the utilities sector evolved?
In former times the challenge was to obtain the data from the field in real time, nowadays the approach is how to manage that data, how to manage the huge information stream, and to spread it all over the departments of the utility.
SCADA was very much related to maintenance, but it is not anymore. To market our product, we need to communicate with maintenance, of course, but also with the planning department, and with the corporate department, to set up key performance indicators, for them to set up a strategy for growth. So the challenge now is how to manage the information.
In the GCC, very often we see that what is required is support modeling integrated fully in the SCADA.
Can you elaborate on the importance of security for SCADA systems?
Cyber security is an important aspect these days. We have several initiatives to keep security levels up to date. One of these is the National SCADA Test Bed initiative by the US Department of Energy.
Our OaSyS system has never been breached, but there’s always the threat. Think about the critical importance of the infrastructure we control, in the hydrocarbon sector in the US, for example, what if there was an attack on the reservoirs? We also manage a vast proportion of smart grid in the US.
Even if an attack is not real, and just a cyber base simulation that will collapse the network, that still means that the supply is cut.
Unused potential – preventing water loss with SCADA systems
Water loss is a major concern for utilities worldwide. A 2006 report published by the World Bank declared that the total cost of non-revenue water for water utilities worldwide can be conservatively estimated at around US$14 billion per year.
Water losses can be classified as real (physical losses) or apparent (economic or commercial). Real water losses reflect water lost from the network and not used; these losses result from leaks in the distribution system, overflows from reservoirs, washouts, etc.
Apparent water losses reflect water that is actually consumed by users but is unmetered, or not correctly metered, and consequently remains unaccounted for.
It is commonly accepted that a sustainable strategy to control real water loss must embrace Active Leakage Control (ALC), says Telvent in a study.
ALC can be defined as the policy of proactively searching for hidden leaks. In its most basic form, ALC consists of periodically “sweeping” the water network using one or more techniques to identify the presence of leaks in water mains.
A more comprehensive approach to ALC is to make network flow measurements on a regular basis to identify new leaks as soon as possible.
The sooner a leak is detected, the sooner field survey activity can begin to locate and repair the leak. Detecting leaks quickly after they form requires real-time or near-real-time analysis of hydraulic parameters (flow, pressure, and level) throughout the water distribution system.
SCADA systems are an ideal platform for performing the advanced analysis that promptly identifies leakage presence, says Telvent.
Nevertheless, many water utilities still do not exploit their SCADA system to its full capability in controlling leakage, often limiting the SCADA to collecting periodic flow data to calculate water balances and estimate water loss.
In contrast, the oil industry makes extensive and effective use of software tools that, installed on top of the SCADA system, proactively execute leak detection.