When you’re responsible for managing the electricity supply that powers everyday life for millions of UK customers, you can’t afford to take risks when embracing new technologies. In partnering with MMX Communications Services (part of the TXO group) to revolutionise their primary SCADA network, our customer was in excellent hands.
The brief was simple: design, test and implement a specialist IP-based telecom network for one of the UK’s largest utilities, incorporating new technologies seamlessly and securely. For this project, our expertise as an end-to-end systems integrator came to the forefront.
Our customer, a trusted distribution network operator (DNO) for a large region of the UK, asked us to design and deliver an IP primary SCADA network for its primary substations in order to facilitate advancements in electricity distribution control and monitoring systems. The network design needed to be delivered to circa 850 primary substations, but readily expandable to circa 1,000 substations.
The project requirements included replacing the existing serial telecommunications infrastructure (1200 Baud serial network) with an IP-based network, providing two diverse telecommunication channels to the primary substation remote terminal units (RTUs).
Cybersecurity was a major aspect of the project. Crucially, the IP SCADA network needed to be designed in line with the CIS20 guidelines and undergo full independent penetration testing prior to live network operation.
Our approach started with a consultation, after which we designed a high-level and detailed network; from the substation to the PowerON Fusion NMS, utilising the existing microwave and fibre network. After an extensive testing period that featured field acceptance testing (FAT) and proof of concept (POC) where adjustments to the network design were incorporated to meet the needs of the local network, we moved forward with the implementation. Supplying and installing the network ourselves, and taking overall responsibility for project management, reporting and training.
Our design was based on integrating the following technologies with full end-to-end encryption in line with the standards required by the customer:
- RACOM UHF radio equipment – Primary Substation
- RACOM LTE/Router equipment – Primary Substation
- Siemens Layer 2/3 switches – IP Nodes and High Speed Nodes
- Siemens SHDSL Modems
- Siemens Ethernet Extenders
- Siemens ADSL 2+ Routers
- Cisco VPN concentrators
Our in-house experts used their first-hand experience and expertise in the following areas to carry out the work:
- Network design & build
- Project management
- Project governance
- Dedicated field teams
- In-house warehousing/logistics
After a successful design and testing phase, we are now implementing an extensive program of work to complete the full upgrade of our customer’s primary SCADA network. The hard work continues and is scheduled to be completed by March 2023.
MMX’s Managing Director, Tim Smith, said: “Delivering projects like this where we successfully integrate new IP-based technologies is what drives us. Although we are all responsible to work together to save energy and improve the environment, the changes that DNOs can make are especially significant due to the nature of our industry. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made together, and we’d like to thank everyone who has been involved.”
To find out more about this project or to get further details on our industry-leading network design and build services, please reach out to our team.
MMX was founded in 2010 and has been a part of the TXO Group since June 2019. MMX provides fully integrated service solutions for clients operating in market sectors where high technology telecommunications assets are deployed. The addition of MMX’s operations, which include repair services, completes the circular economy loop. Our industry expertise and commitment to our clients make us the partner of choice in our field.