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Remotes Terminals Units

Daniel Estrada - - Stiven Rios -

Yoniver Hoyos -
University of Cauca
April 3th, 2017

Abstract ators, given the extreme conditions In which work

AS defined by ANSI, a remote terminal unit is done, it should be ensured that the control al-
(RTU) Refers to a remote station equipment of gorithms are performed correctly, sometimes using
a supervisory system. The term Supervision Sys- the connection of different control equipment to be
tem covers all control, telemetry equipment in the able to handle everything required. It is here that
master station and all the complementary devices we see the importance of RTUs and the relation-
in the remote station. RTUs cover various aspects ship between master and slave in order to execute
of data acquisition and control in the field, which orders properly. In the following article we will
make them very important in the current industry, find detailed information about the operation, pro-
because of their remote nature it is indispensable tocols commonly used in RTUs, in addition to its
to establish protocols for their communication with hardware and software architecture, among oth-
the environment such as the Modbus RTU protocol, ers. To do this, an analysis will be made of how
DNP3 and SNMP. RTUs incorporate various tech- RTUs are used in the industrial field, in SCADA
nologies, such as communication with web servers systems because of their importance in the process
or the manipulation of alarms, although it is clear of supervising and / or controlling the variables of
that this depends on each manufacturer and it is a given process together with the help of PLCs,
very difficult to establish a standard in this aspect, taking into account the Varied and possible appli-
in addition, because each manufacturer is free to cations in the ones that can be used.
Choosing the design of their product is very com-
mon that the RTU use proprietary software, al-
What is RTU?
though the trend is to establish standards such as
In industrial and manufacturing processes it is
IEC 870 or S1131-3 for future realizations. Cur-
necessary to implement telemetry systems to con-
rently there are many RTU manufacturers, some
nect equipment and systems separated by long dis-
of them as Siemens or Schneider offer a great va-
riety of products. Taking into account all these
Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) are data acquisi-
aspects we can see that the knowledge and study of
tion and field control devices whose main function
RTU is of vital importance for development in the
is to interface local instrumentation and control
equipment and the data acquisition and control
system. A remote terminal unit has the capability
Introduction: to monitor a number of I / O related to a pro-
Frequently we find that it is necessary to con- cess, analyze and maintain data in real time, ex-
nect many devices to each other although they are ecute user-programmed control algorithms, com-
separated by great distances that can even be sev- municate with the master station, and in some
eral kilometers in some cases, besides having many Cases, with remote ones.
control variables supplied by our sensors and actu- The architecture of an RTU is commonly con-

stituted of: The term master station is used to denote the
SCADA systems. As a minimum, the RTUs shall
Input Module.
be capable of performing the following functions:
Control Module. Collecting and processing the digital status
inputs, analog inputs, accumulated values
Information Processing Module (CPU).
and transmitting to at least three master sta-
Communications module. tion(s).
Input Module: The input module has the Receiving and processing digital and analog
function of acquiring field information supplied control commands from at least three master
by the transducers and conditioning it to their station(s)
operating levels. The input module allows the
Accepting polling messages from at least three
management of discrete and analogue information.
master station(s) simultaneously using sepa-
rate logical databases for each master station.
Control Module : This module has the
function of registering, receiving and transmit- Communication simultaneously on all Com-
ting the control algorithms received from the munication ports (as per cl.1.3) and using
master unit. It guarantees the reliability of the multiple concurrent protocols, including the
operation through the use of security mechanism IEC 60870-5-101, 60870-5-104 and MOD-
and detection of errors. After a verification BUS/103 protocol.
of the code sent by the master unit and the
decode of the address in a satisfactory way a Data transmission rates from 300 to 9600
reply message is sent to the station or master unit. baud for serial ports (for both IEC 60870-5-
101 and MODBUS/103) and 10/100 Mbps for
Information Processing Module (CPU): TCP/IP Ethernet ports.
The CPU is the controller unit for all functions RTU shall be compatible with protocol 61850
of the remote terminal unit, since it directs all for communication with IEDs.
data transfers between registers and memory
locations, and controls the interruptions of the RTU shall have the capability of automatic
communication interface which sends the RTU start-up and initialisationfollowing restora-
data To the master unit. tion of power after an outage without need
of manual intervention. All restarts shall be
Communications module: This module is reported to the connected master station(s).
responsible for encoding the information received RTU shall support time synchronization
from the field in order to be transmitted by the through messages received from master sta-
communication channels; In the same way the tion using IEC 60870-5-101/ IEC 60870-5-104
information received from the master station is protocol.
processed by this module and decoded. Since
the transmission of information is performed RTU shall support downloading of RTU
between remote computers and through the use of database from the master station using the
communication channels with limited bandwidth, IEC. 60870-5-101 and IEC 60870-5-104 pro-
it is required that the information is adequate tocol.
and coded in an ideal way, including methods of
RTU shall support SOE (Sequence of events)
error verification.
RTU Functions: All functional capability Acting as a data concentrator for acquiring
described herein shall be provided by the Contrac- data from Slave RTUs and exercising super-
tor even if a function is not initially implemented. visor.

Other features: Local Configuration and Maintenance
Interface The RTUs shall include the inter-
The RTU performs a periodic scan of the pro- face to support the portable configuration and
cess variables and through a communication maintenance terminal (PCMT). The interface
module allows the exchange of said informa- shall provide easy access to allow employer to
tion with a master station (MTU) located in use the maintenance terminal at the RTUs in-
a central control room, using various means of stalled in the field.
communication: telephone line, UHF / VHF,
microwave, satellite, fiber optic or other medi-
ums, through auxiliary ports with other re-
mote and / or portable terminals.

remote terminal unit has the capability to

monitor a number of I / O related to a pro-
cess, analyze and maintain data in real time,
execute user-programmed control algorithms,
communicate with the master station, and in
some Cases, with other remote stations.

Local Logger/Printer Interface The

RTUs shall include the interface to support an
optional local logger /printer. The interface
Figure 1: RTU manufacturers Specifications. Ref
shall provide easy access to allow employer to
10, pag 4.
connect the logger at the RTUs installed in
the field.

Design Standards The RTUs shall be de- Hardware in an RTU

signed in accordance with applicable Interna- The Remote Terminal Unit (UTR) has been de-
tional Electro- technical Commission (IEC), fined as a set of subsystems or elements integrated
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engi- to a common logic. The logical or logical subsys-
neer (IEEE), American National Standards tem provides two primordial functions.
Institute (ANSI), and National Equipment
Manufacturers association (NEMA)RTUs are Acquisition and processing of data: This
operating faultlessly both in the deserts process consists in the acquisition of two types
(+70 C) and Finland (-30 ) standards, unless of data
otherwise specified in this Technical specifica-
tion. In all cases the provisions of the latest Digital acquisition: This type of sys-
edition or revision of the applicable standards tem monitors and acquires four types of
in effect shall apply. digital data or contact position informa-
Communication ports The RTUs shall
support simultaneous communications Current Status: Detects a change
with multiple independent master stations and sends it to the moment
(SCADA system), maintenance and con- Current Status (with memory): De-
figuration terminal (Laptop PC), a local tects the number of times the con-
logger (printer), Multi-function transduc- tact has changed and the last time
ers and Local Data Monitoring System this was reported to the master sta-
(LDMS)/Logger. tion.

Sequence of Events: makes the tab- with perfectly different modules or forming related
ulations of the changes of the con- groups):
tacts taking into account the time
in which they occurred. Real-time operating system (RTOS), or an
algorithm that starts a loop that monitors
Accumulated value: it is a counter of
the inputs and monitors the communication
the number of contact closures dur-
ing a certain period.
Analog acquisition: Can originate in controller for the communication system to
power line transducers or other process the master module of the SCADA.
transmitters. The transducer signals are
Drivers for the I / O system
in the range of volts or milliamps, which
can be converted to a digital value using A SCADA type application that will moni-
an A / D converter (Analog / Digital). tor the inputs, process and store the informa-
tion, respond to requests made by the master
SCADA sent by the communications network.

A method that allows the execution of orders

in the RTU from the users applications.

Self-diagnosis program.

Figure 2: Hardware Architecture. Ref 1. Pag 9.

Figure 4: Geothermal Plant Communication Dia-

gram.Ref 7, pag 59

Standards for RTUs:

RTUs handle two main standards:
Figure 3: Block diagram of a typical RTU. Ref 10,
pag 2. IEC60870 which is for communications:
In electrical engineering and power system au-
tomation, the International Electrotechnical
Software on an RTU Commission 60870 standards define systems
All RTUs require the following software (either used for telecontrol (supervisory control and

data acquisition). Such systems are used for
controlling electric power transmission grids
and other geographically widespread control
systems. By use of standardized protocols,
equipment from many different suppliers can
be made to interoperate. IEC standard
60870 has six parts, defining general informa-
tion related to the standard, operating con-
ditions, electrical interfaces, performance re-
quirements, and data transmission protocols.
IEC 60870-5:IEC 60870 part 5, known as
Transmission protocols, provides a commu-
nication profile for sending basic telecontrol Figure 5: Languages of Standards IEC61131-3.
messages between two systems, which uses Ref 11.
permanent directly connected data circuits
between the systems. ModBus RTU
Based on the master / slave architecture that han-
The IEC61131-3 that is implemented dles the RTU architecture, the ModBus commu-
for programming: nications protocol located at level 7 of the OSI
IEC 61131-3 is the third (out of 8) of the model.
international standard IEC 61131 for Pro- It is converted into a de facto standard communi-
grammable Logic Controllers (PLCs). It was cations protocol in the industry, since it gives the
first published in December 1993 by the Inter- possibility of greater availability for the connec-
national Electrotechnical Commission. The tion of industrial electronic devices. The reasons
current issue was published in February 2013. why the use of Modbus is superior to other com-
This part deals with the programming lan- munication protocols are:
guages and defines the standards of two
graphic languages and two textual languages Its public.
for PLC: Its implementation is easy and requires little
Ladder Diagram, graph. Function Block Dia- development.
gram (FBD), graph. Structured Text (ST),
Manage blocks of data without constraints.
textual. List of instructions (IL - Instruc-
tion List), textual. Sequential Function Chart ModBus allows the control of a network of
(SFC), with elements to organize parallel and devices. Modbus is also used for the connection of
sequential computer programs. a monitoring computer with a remote unit (RTU)
in data acquisition monitoring (SCADA) systems.
Communication protocols for RTUs. The data There are versions of Modbus protocol for serial
that are collected in the RTU prior to its trans- port and Ethernet (Modbus / TCP).
mission are encapsulated obeying protocols such
as DNP3 and IEC 60870.
RTU communication protocol:
ModBus RTU. All implementations vary from the official stan-
dard. Some of the most common variations are:
DNP3. Data type:

SNMP. Floating point IEEE.

Integer 32 bits. Operation of unsolicited reports:
Data 8 bits. Communication is not requested, but the
mixed data types. teacher occasionally sends Integrity votes for
class 0 data, to verify that your database is
Bit fields in Integer.
Multipliers for data exchange to / from
Integer. 10, 100, 1000, 256... Operation of reports by voting: The mas-
ter regularly votes for an event data and oc-
protocol extensions: casionally By class 0 data.
slave directions of 16 bits .
Static report operation:
Data size of 32 bits (1 direction = 32 bits
The Master votes only for class 0 data or spe-
of data returned.)
cific data that You need, you can address in-
dividual slaves or initiate a diffusion. DNP3
DNP3 establishes the format for the message request
The distributed network protocol version 3.0 of the Master by placing it within the slave
(DNP3) is an open, optimized public protocol de- address. The response of the Slave contains
veloped for SCADA systems. This includes RTU- fields confirming the action taken, any data to
to-IED communications, master-to-remote slave be Returned and an error check field. Figure
communications, and even peer-to-peer instances 20 shows the master initiating a request, and
and network applications. Being an object-based the sequence Of communication showing the
application layer protocol, DNP3 has the flexibil- message address between them. The requi-
ity to support multiple modes of operation. Mes- sition message is contained in the application
sages can be sent between the DNP3 master and layer inside Of the message, a confirmation
the RTU slave using one of the following modes of response (ACK) is required for this message.
operation. The slave sends an ACK message to the mas-

The DNP3 protocol has three layers:

Application Layer.

Link Layer data.

Physical layer.

To support advanced functions of the drives

Remote (RTU) and long messages, DNP3 adds a
pseudo-layer of Transport for use with the
data link layer.
Figure 6: Hierarchical with intermediate data con-
centrators Multiple master. Reg 9, pag 81 Application Layer: Describe message for-
mat, attributes, services, and procedures For the
application layer. The application layer builds
Operation at rest: messages based on In the need of the user to
The master does not invoke the slave. The arrange application data.
slave can send no reports Requested, and the
teacher can send application layer confirma- Pseudo-transport layer: Describes the segment
tions to the slave. format, attributes, services, and functions of the

Figure 8: DNP3.0 Master-Slave Communication
Process. Ref 7, pag 49.

type, and flow control information.

Physical layer: Converts each structure to

a strip of bits and sends them on the medium
physical. In another configuration, TCP/IP pro-
tocols are used to provide Transport to the DNP3
messages on the network, such configuration is
called layer of adaptation.
Figure 7: Some manufacturing for SCADA and
RTU supporting DNP 3.0. Ref 9, pag 79. Advantages of DNP3: The following list
presents features of DNP3 that provide benefits
to the user:
Pseudo-transport layer. The main function of the
transport layer is To break the data fragments A protocol that is supported by a large and
of the application layer into units of Dimensional increasing number of equipment manufactur-
data in the link layer, segments called Transport ers.
protocol (TPUD) data for transmission and later The ability to select from multiple vendors for
Armed in the original fragment at the reception. future system expansion and modification.
Data Link Layer: Handles the logical link Layered architecture conforming to IEC en-
between master-slave and improves the Physical hanced performance architecture model.
characteristics of channel error. Add a header
block Followed by optional data blocks to consti- Optimized for reliable and efficient SCADA
tute the data unit of the Link protocol (LPDU) communications.
or format up to 292 bytes in size.
Immediate benefits:
The data section Contains the data downloaded
from the pseudo-transport layer. Interoperability between multi-vendor de-
The data link function code identifies the purpose vices.
of the Message and indicates which function you
want to develop, it contains the address, format Fewer protocols to support in the field.

Reduced software costs. Active Alarming with Local Intelli-
gence:With its embedded programming ca-
No protocol translators needed. pabilities, RTU controllers are able to exe-
cute local control logic to actively respond to
Shorter delivery schedules. unusual events with triggered, time-stamped
exception messages though UDP, TCP, email,
Less testing, maintenance and training. SMS or SNMP traps, whether for simple in-
trusion detection (as when triggered by input
Improved documentation.
status) or for critical fastmoving vehicles, un-
manned track-side signaling, and control cab-
SNMP inet applications.
Simple Network Management Protocol its a
program designed primarily for managing devices
in a network from a single central location. SNMP
is now used to monitor and manage television
broadcasting studios, military airborne platforms,
automated rate collection systems, emergency ra-
dio networks, power distribution systems, and
many more.
Figure 11: Active Alarming with Local Intelli-
gence. Ref 8.

Faster, More Accurate Data Collection

than Traditional Pull Technology:
RTU controllers utilize a push-based net-
work architecture when there is an I/O status
change, a preconfigured interval is reached, or
when a request is issued by a user. Using push
technology in this way cuts metadata over-
head, resulting in faster I/O response times
and more accurate data collection than tradi-
Figure 9: SNMP 1. Ref 14.
tional pull-based architectures.

Figure 10: SNMP 2. Ref 6.

Figure 12: Faster, More Accurate Data Collection

Some RTU classes and their features than Traditional Pull Technology. Ref 8.
Embedded Technologies

Local Data logging: Tailor-Made for Railway Condition
RTU Controllers log I/O and serial device Monitoring Applications
data to a single, expandable SD card slot The ioPAC 8020 RTU is undergoes
that supports up to 32 GB of storage space strict environmental testing to ensure
and provide multiple methods to remotely reliable performance under a variety of
retrieve data logs. power supply conditions that include
voltage variations, power interruptions,
and supply changeovers. The ioPAC
8020 RTU is also designed with anti-
vibration features including spring-type
terminal blocks for sensor wires and op-
tional M12 connectors to ensure a stable
Ethernet connection for uninterrupted
data transmission.

Figure 13: Local Data logging. Ref 8.

Implemented Technological Applications:

Modular RTU Controllers for Railway

Condition Monitoring Applications

Anti-Vibration Design
The DIN-Rail mount of the ioPAC 8020
RTU is specifically designed to with-
stand severe vibrations; features include Figure 15: Tailor-Made for Railway Condition
aluminum chassis for vandal protection, Monitoring Applications. Ref 8.
spring-type terminal blocks for gas-tight
and vibration resistant wire contacts,
and optional M12 connectors to ensure Seamless data transmissions with
a stable Ethernet connection. Ethernet by-pass function
The ioPAC RTU controller provides
an Ethernet switch with 2 ports to
enable daisy-chaining of multiple ioPAC
RTU controllers with minimal hassle
via cascade wiring. Together with the
power-off bypass Innovative C/C++
Programming with timesaving I/O
access and control Seamless data trans-
missions with Ethernet by-pass function
mechanism, ioPAC RTU controllers
are able to maintain continuous and
seamless data transmissions even when
Figure 14: Anti-Vibration Design. Ref 8. a linked device fails.

Use SNMP Protocol to Manage
All Devices over Ethernet
The ioLogik E2200 micro RTU can
send out SNMP trap alarms and also
accept SNMP as a means of reading or
writing to I/Os. To protect network
communications, the ioLogik E2200
micro RTU also supports SNMP v3 for
message authentication and encryption.
With Moxa?s SNMP-capable ioLogik
RTU controllers, even IT customers can
easily integrate any connected sensors
and devices into an Ethernet backbone,
and achieve proficient network manage-
ment for many other applications, such
Figure 16: Seamless data transmissions with Eth- as environmental monitoring, telecom,
ernet by-pass function. Ref 8. power, and transportation.

Intelligent Micro RTU for Remote

Monitoring and Alarm Applications

PC-free Alarm and Control Intelli-

the ioLogik E2200 micro RTU can be
used for simple output control when it
is triggered by input status, without the
need for a PC controller. The ioLogik
E2200 micro RTU reports I/O status
automatically based on user-specified Figure 18: Use SNMP Protocol to Manage All De-
conditions. vices over Ethernet. Ref 8.

High performance Water supply man-

A stable and safe clean water supply de-
pends on the accurate monitoring of water
conservation facilities, the use of advanced
wireless communication and highly efficient
and intelligent terminal equipment to moni-
Figure 17: PC-free Alarm and Control Intelli- tor the remote facilities, making local judg-
gence. Ref 8. ments and decisions, using cloud technology
to record huge amounts of data to gather
data reports, for the sake of applications using
standard network technology, comprehensive
monitoring and management of water conser-
vation facilities, water pumping stations, wa-

ter pipelines, water towers and so on, to en- Digital Oilfields
sure the normal and efficient operation, and With the evolution of the era of big data,
achieve the following objectives. Internet of Things (IoT) technology is be-
ing widely used and its architecture con-
Establish a unified management of water tains cloud computing and intelligent termi-
production and water use data, to under- nals. With oil and gas operations reflected in
stand the supply and demand situation the production architecture, intelligent termi-
Ensure stable water supply, use the pipe nals are distributed across the oil wells and
network system to ensure the stability of pipelines. To handle delivery tasks in the
the existing pipe network pressure field, the terminals can collect the relevant
data, and send the information back to the
Use simulation pipe network monitoring cloud server through wired or wireless trans-
systems to understand the changing de- mission. The cloud can be used to accumulate
mand and improve the management of the huge amount of data and conduct high-
supply. speed parallel computing, to generate impor-
Use the SCADA monitoring system to tant prevention strategies and solutions. Be-
detect the pipeline leakage and loss and cause transmission and distribution pipelines
reduce the waste of water. are located far from civilization, them main-
tenance is more difficult. Therefore, when
Use the cost advantage of unmanned sta- pipelines leak, the intelligent terminal can
tions to effectively improve the efficiency monitor the status of the pipes, instantly pro-
of the water supply, and reduce amount vide feedback to the monitoring center, and
of manpower needed for regular supervi- collect all the pipeline information.

Intelligent terminals can monitor the opera-

tional efficiency of pumping stations and the ma-
chine?s status, establishing a clear water network,
and further improve the management efficiency
of the water supply and improving people?s well-

Figure 20: Digital Oilfields. Ref 8.

Some references of RTU


Figure 19: High performance Water supply man- The youngest member of the SICAM
agement. Ref 8. RTUs product family, is extremely flex-
ible and powerful thanks to the mod-

ular, consistent SICAM system archi- Monitoring:
tecture. The SICAM AK 3 provides The first stage focuses on the
a multitude of possibilities for the au- monitoring of stations to enable
tomation of widely distributed processes, rapid fault localization and high
and is the most powerful device of the availability.
SICAM RTUs product family in terms
of communication, automation function- Telecontrol:
ality and redundancy. Automation, tele- The second stage involves
control, and communication functions switchgear telecontrol in addi-
can be easily combined in full compli- tion to monitoring, thus minimizing
ance with IEC 61850. downtime. Thanks to this appli-
cation, fault isolation and power
supply restoration of de-energized
network sections are no longer
difficult tasks for power supply

Load flow control:

In the third stage, the effects of de-
Figure 21: SICAM AK 3. Ref 12.
centralized power feed-ins are man-
aged via automation. Network
SICAM TM: losses can be significantly reduced
With various communications interfaces this way.
and peripheral elements that can be ex-
panded by adding modules.

Figure 22: SICAM TM. Ref 12. Figure 23: SICAM A8000 Series. Ref 12.

The SICAM A8000 series: SICAM MIC Modern:

Series is a new modular device range high-performance automation systems
for telecontrol and automation applica- allow the integration of smaller stations
tions in all areas of energy supply. The to provide universal and reliable man-
SICAM A8000 series also offers the 3- agement of complex processes.
stage smart functions:

Figure 24: SICAM MIC Modern. Ref 12. Figure 26: SAITEL DR Remote Terminal Unit
and Controller. Ref 13.

SAITEL: Saitel is a highly-evolved field

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