Controls & Automation FAQs

Q: What automation vendors does ASG have experience with?

A: Applied Sciences Group engineers have extensive experience with the following PLCs:

  • Allen Bradley
  • GE Intelligent Platforms
  • Siemens
  • Wonderware
  • National Instruments

ASG has long been registered as a GE Solutions System Partner and a Premier Solutions Provider (PSP). Many vendors require that you pledge your exclusivity to become a certified member of their systems integrator program.  ASG remains vendor neutral and prefers working with our client's preferred solution.


Q: Where do you perform the work? 

A: Our offices are located in the Buffalo, New York area, and we attempt to perform the bulk of the work here. However, most of us do travel to our clients' sites regularly to provide some level of development on site. We typically do that anyway at the beginning of the project (during requirements definition, high level design and any reviews) and at the end, when the integration task requires tight cooperation among all players. 


Q: Do you build control panels as well?        

A: ASG can design panels (and the control systems that go inside them) and usually have the panels manufactured by a local third-party panel builder.


Q: What PLC families can you program?       

A: We can program all common PLC types: Allen Bradley (Rockwell), Automation Direct, Siemens, GE, Schneider Electric (Modicon), Mitsubishi, National Instruments and many others. Most of our controls engineers have 20+ years experience and among the group, there are very few PLCs that ASG hasn't programmed.


Q: What upfront work is required for ASG to prepare a quote for a system?     

A: Typically we start with an inputs/outputs list and sequence of operation. A quote usually requires a meeting with a Sales engineer (our Sales staff is well-versed in engineering principles and has extensive experience) to gather the project details, a review of the machine or process to be monitored/controlled, a review of existing equipment (if any) and available electrical drawings, interviews with personnel to determine what they would like to accomplish, and any budgetary or timeline constraints.


Q: How large or small are the systems you've developed?    

A: We have worked on systems with hundreds of I/O points (thousands of tags) and systems as small as just a few I/O points. There is no typical application size, and ASG will provide a quote on virtually any sized system.


Q: What types of SCADA systems have you worked with?  

A: Our most common SCADA platforms are from GE (Proficy, formerly Intellution), Rockwell (Bizware) and Invensys (Wonderware). There are several less-common and legacy SCADA platforms for which ASG has developed applications.


Q: What is SCADA?       

A: SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) generally refers to industrial control systems (ICS): computer systems that monitor and control industrial, infrastructure, or facility-based processes, as described below: 

  • Industrial processes include those of manufacturing, production, power generation, fabrication, and refining, and may run in continuous, batch, repetitive, or discrete modes
  • Infrastructure processes may be public or private, and include water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power transmission and distribution, wind farms, civil defense siren systems, and large communication systems
  • Facility processes occur both in public facilities and private ones, including buildings, airports, ships, and space stations. They monitor and control HVAC, access, and energy consumption

A SCADA system usually consists of the following subsystems:

  • A human machine interface or HMI is the apparatus or device which presents process data to a human operator, and through this, the human operator monitors and controls the process
  • A supervisory (computer) system, gathering (acquiring) data on the process and sending commands (control) to the process
  • Remote terminal units (RTUs) connecting to sensors in the process, converting sensor signals to digital data and sending digital data to the supervisory system
  • Programmable logic controller (PLCs) used as field devices because they are more economical, versatile, flexible, and configurable than special-purpose RTUs
  • Communication infrastructure connecting the supervisory system to the remote terminal units
  • Various process and analytical instrumentation

There is, in several industries, considerable confusion over the differences between SCADA systems and Distributed Control Systems (DCS). Generally speaking, a SCADA system usually refers to a system that coordinates, but does not control processes in real time. The discussion on real-time control is muddied somewhat by newer telecommunications technology, enabling reliable, low latency, high speed communications over wide areas. Most differences between SCADA and DCS systems are culturally determined and can usually be ignored. As communication infrastructures with higher capacity become available, the difference between SCADA and DCS will fade.

Source: - July, 2012


Q: How does ASG get paid?

A: Time and materials contract or a firm fixed price contract, depending on project definition and requirements and our ability to mitigate the risks of developing a first of its kind custom solution.


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