Systems Integrator: Nucleus is a Reliable and Affordable HMI SCADA Software

HMI SCADA screen for wastewater pump station system

By Vance VanDoren

Our Nucleus guest writer Vance VanDoren is Editor of the The Automation Integrator Guide. He has over thirty years of experience in the Control Systems Integration industry and holds a PhD in Process Control Theory from Purdue University. The following article is translated from an interview with SCADA software expert Ken Baker of Nucleus.

For my first job out of grad school, I joined a team of programmers to develop a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system for Texas Instruments. Our goal was to make it sufficiently flexible and versatile to be applicable to all the industrial automation systems in all the industries that used our PLCs. 

That proved to be a tall order. It seemed that every operator in every control room in every facility we automated needed a different set of functions to collect data from and send commands back to their PLC network. Different information displays. Different reports. Different dials and buttons.

So I was intrigued to learn of a modern SCADA system that has proven sufficiently flexible in the rail transit industry to make a transition into the wider industrial automation industry. 

As its name suggests, “Nucleus” serves as the central hub for designing, developing, and installing SCADA systems, not only for rail transit applications but for most any automated facility that requires a visual interface between the operators and the production equipment.

The technology at the core of the Nucleus platform has been used for command, control, and monitoring of large-scale transit systems from San Francisco to Miami for more than twenty years. More recently, the Nucleus team has worked to enhance their product with new features intended to simplify and shorten the design and development process. 

For example, Nucleus comes with 12 pre-built graphical screen layout options from which users can build a complete HMI SCADA system. They can choose the specific size and placement of buttons, navigation options, alarms, messages, and various customizable graphics.

Better still, Nucleus users have found the product to be not just easy to use, but reliable, versatile, and inexpensive – features that would be particularly valuable to system integrators tasked with creating HMI SCADA systems for clients in industries as diverse as water/wastewater, manufacturing, infrastructure control, transportation, utilities/power, and food/beverage.

The Nucleus team also tells me that their technology offers several features that are not normally found in traditional industrial control products. It is designed around a modular system that is intended to streamline the development process for projects of any size, either simple or complex. Nucleus’ key features include …

• Free development-only licensing, support, and upgrades

• Simulation features for testing

• On-screen playback of all historical events

• High-speed central storage database

• Relational databases for configuration and operational data storage

• Screen annotations and alarm features

• Display creation utiltity that assigns I/O to build graphical icons with unique functionality

System integrators might also appreciate Nucleus’ Custom-Flex Pricing model that avoids the “nickel and dime” paradigm. The Nucleus sales team tells me that they can customize their prices to offer their product at just a third of the cost of comparable software packages. 

SCADA technology has come a long way since my Texas Instruments days! 

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