Modern HMI/SCADA Improves Oil Pipeline for Global Agribusiness Cooperative

7 min video  /  12 minute read

Project Scope:

  • Tags: 300,000
  • Screens: Vision: 129 Windows, 888 Templates; Perspective: 727 views
  • Clients: 4-9 head operator consoles (Vision); Perspective: 5-30 active users
  • Alarms: ~2,500
  • Devices used: 30 Edge Nodes, ~60 devices
  • Architectures used: Redundant Hub and Spoke Architecture with MQTT
  • Databases used: SQL Server (3)
  • Historical data logged: 100,000 tags historized

Project Summary:

Streamline Control worked with CHS Pipelines and Terminals – a leading global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers, and cooperatives across the US – to replace a legacy SCADA with a new system built around open standards for communication (MQTT/SPVB) and utilizing Ignition at all levels of the Purdue Model. Streamline was tasked and successfully executed all project activities including designing the SCADA architecture, developing high-performance HMI displays in Vision, developing a robust and comprehensive tagging/asset structure for each asset location, building Perspective displays for enterprise users, integrating Ignition with leak detection systems, developing applications in Ignition used for batch tracking, pig tracking and compliance. 

A key feature of this project was aligning the system on standards, including protocols, tag structures, naming conventions, security, and extensive templating using UDTs. There was also alignment on a number of compliance-related measures including display characteristics, navigation, colors, and alarming.

The system went live and into production in the fall of 2021.

The solution is a single stack or platform that not only provides robust and secure operating for the pipeline controllers but utilizes Ignition at the enterprise to expose operational data and to provide rich and meaningful displays to all users.


CHS used a legacy SCADA system for monitoring and controlling the pipeline. They wanted to move toward a more modern solution that not only enabled the safe delivery of hydrocarbons that met industry best practices, such as high-performance and compliant displays, but a system that could be used to enhance the operational capabilities of the controller and the enhanced visibility of the system to enterprise and remote users. Additionally, they wanted a scalable solution that would deliver sustainable outcomes.


From the field to the boardroom, Ignition was used at all layers of the business, providing CHS with a single-stack solution built upon open communications standards, structured data and intuitive visualization.

  • At the field or remote location, Ignition Edge is used to gather and contextualize operational data points using Sparkplug B, and interface with PLCs and Flow Computers, giving visibility and control of the asset. Ignition Edge solved the problem of interfacing with PLCs and distributing the complexity and challenges around poll/response or high latency networks because of the integration with MQTT through Cirrus Link modules. Using Ignition Edge with MQTT Transmission allowed CHS to structure data in a way that allows for control or SCADA data to be published differently than supplemental or enterprise user data points. Essentially, this allowed CHS to utilize existing network mediums and extract more information from a remote asset. Ignition Edge now gives CHS the ability to standardize local HMI displays at the field or asset location. 
  • At the controller, control room or SCADA level, Ignition was used to visualize and integrate compliance and CRM related activities into a unified operator experience following best practices around API 1175 and the High-Performance HMI. Ignition allowed for robust and repeatable displays, components and navigational schema that was easy to achieve and support when compared to the legacy system. The Ignition Tag Historian Module allowed for Streamline to construct rich and intuitive displays, and reporting. For example, integrated into Ignition was a shift log — a means to capture operator events throughout their shift in a digital form. Now based on the user, they can capture and act on events or data points in the form. While the HMI aspect of Ignition is world-class, what really makes it an excellent solution is its native ability to integrate into relational databases like SQL Server. 
  • MQTT/Middleware and Cirrus Link Modules were used to gather data not only for pipeline controllers but also to provide a secure mechanism to expose all operational data points to the enterprise. This was enabled through a robust topic definition at the edge node. Additionally, using MQTT and TLS allowed for secure transport of data inside the PCN and at the enterprise level. MQTT allowed for efficiency on the high latency networks as well as provided a way to transport more than just data required by SCADA. Every single operational data point was exposed via MQTT to the enterprise!
  • At the enterprise level, an enterprise Ignition was built that gathered all operational data using MQTT and Sparkplug B into contextualized, templated HTML5-based displays that are not only fit for desktop or mobile devices – but fit for casual users (as opposed to exposing HMI displays that are fit for controllers). This allowed the organization to build functional, maintainable, and repeatable operational dashboards and applications at the enterprise level. For example, they can now expose the location of assets that traverse the pipeline to field users on the mobile phone without ever giving them access into the SCADA environment. They can also develop applications or concepts around operational data using Ignition because of this framework – all the operational data is available and ready to go! 

Ignition was an excellent fit for this requirement because it supports SPVB with MQTT natively. Also, from an operational dashboard perspective, the HTML5/CS33 and overall features in this platform are unmatched. It allowed a unified and consistent system throughout the organization.


Using MQTT with Ignition played a big role in modernizing edge connectivity through providing a reliable and secure means of communication that also improved efficiency. Modifying devices and tags is very straightforward in the new system. Additionally, Ignition allows CHS to support multiple user groups to provide essential data to everyone who needs it, including people outside of the pipeline control room, such as field technicians, business users, and managers, and everyone is able to have that same consistent and current data.

  • Before: There was no backup control center because of the complexities around data replication and legacy architecture, but this was a requirement for the new system.

After: A secondary control center, independent of the primary control center, was stood up because of the nature of the publish/subscribe architecture that Ignition and Cirrus Link enables. Apart from offering a real-time and ready-to-go disaster recovery location, it also allowed the client to have a full test environment to properly test changes against live data. Leveraging EAM, we can synchronize and manage all the Ignition instances, Test/Dev, Primary Control, Backup Control, and even the remote Ignition Edge devices themselves. It is a powerful architecture.

  • Before: Work around compliance and control room management was carried out on pen and paper primarily. Daily checks on equipment were handwritten into logs. Ignition changed that by providing a compliant SCADA system for the pipeline industry.

    After: At the SCADA level, Streamline integrated compliance-related activities and processes into the Ignition system. A shift changeover is built into the front end (leveraging Ignition SQL interface) into a standardized user form. Upon shift handover, shift logs can capture nuisance alarms – a fatigue management technique – which is emailed to managers and users.

Reporting was also built into the PCN/SCADA Ignition system. This allowed for alarm reports, compliance-related reports, and shift logs to be automatically emailed to appropriate control room managers and stakeholders. This effectively reduced cumbersome paper management.

  • Before: SCADA acted as the flow-through of data to the enterprise. Accessing data was limited with users viewing HMI displays to see their information. Information was hard to access, and data was also missing pertinent information that gives the end user the right context. End users would always need to inquire about where they should look, and what the data point represented when building trends or reports.

    After: Data collection at the control centers leveraged MQTT with Sparkplug B with a structured templated format. They were able to utilize Sparkplug B to define additional properties on the tags that help shape and structure data so that when it hits the enterprise, the information has meaning, and the enterprise applications can begin to utilize the data.

    The Ignition Enterprise instance – which they call the Mobile Business Interface, or MBI – leveraged all the hard work they put in standardizing the data structures at the Edge and the MQTT infrastructure. This allowed for templated Perspective displays that are shaped for casual users – not built to service a control room. Data is now accessible, without users reaching into SCADA for information, and more secure. Displays are available without RDP sessions, software installations, and jump boxes into a secure network layer. MBI exposes all data through an operational “reflection.” Information is displayed to users on the enterprise via a web browser or phone because of HTML5/CSS3.


Jeremiah: I'm Jeremiah Henley, and I'm the CTO of Streamline Control Solutions. Streamline Control is a team of passionate engineers, software developers and integrators based out of Calgary, Alberta. We are committed to delivering transformative operational technology solutions using Ignition and MQTT. The project was to migrate a legacy pipeline control system into a single stack solution using Ignition Edge at the field, Ignition in the control room, and Ignition Perspective at the enterprise.

Adam: I'm Adam Runyan, SCADA technician for CHS Pipelines and Terminals. CHS is a leading global agribusiness that's owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States. CHS powers rural America through two refineries and a network of refined fuels terminals and pipelines. One of the most important elements of this project involved aligning our system on standards. This included protocols, tag structures, naming conventions, security and extensive templating using UDTs. We also aligned on a number of compliance-related measures, including display characteristics, navigation, colors and alarming.

Jeremiah: The solution was built using MQTT and Sparkplug. At the edge node, we bring in operational data and published information only required by the control room to the SCADA system. Non-operational data or supplemental information is published using the same medium and mechanism into the enterprise.

Adam: One high-level objective of this project was delivering sustainable outcomes. Ignition was a good choice because it allowed us to align on a common platform at each level of our operation from edge to enterprise.

Ken: I'm Ken Cabatic, lead integrator at Streamline Control. We had a high latency and low bandwidth network that MQTT was built for. Using MQTT as Middleware allowed a simplified architecture that allowed multiple systems to access the live data at the same time. This means we were able to stand up a primary control center, a backup control center, and a test system.

Todd: I'm Todd Strawn, IT solution architect for CHS. The Ignition SCADA system and our use of MQTT both played into this being a very scalable system. This is important to us on a couple of fronts. From an operations perspective, we're able to take in data from more devices and at a much more granular level to help improve operations. From a platform perspective, we're able to scale out the system to be able to deliver to more user groups.

Jeremiah: The solution is built to service operations, however, with the use of MQTT, we publish operational data to the enterprise level. Now, engineers, accountants, technicians and field operators have a view into the system.

Todd: There are a lot of key features for this project that are typical on a SCADA project of this nature. Developing a high-performance HMI, adopting industry best practices around security and segmentation. A notable one to me was the use of Sparkplug at the edge to define an asset model, making the edge node the single source of truth for SCADA and the enterprise.

Adam: There's an ease-of-use aspect having Ignition at every level. Making changes at the edge and having those changes propagate throughout the system makes modifying devices and tags very straightforward. Adopting a high performance HMI scheme was another key element of this project. One of the features that our operators like the most, is how we reserve the use of bright colors for alarms to help them stand out. This helps drive situational awareness in response to abnormal condition.

Ken: When operators first open the system, this is the high-level map of the entire system that shows all the lines and the stations. This is a line screen that's just a summary of all the stations that belong to that line. We drill down further, and now we have a station-level view that shows the schematic of the station and all the assets that belong to the station. The operators could click on the asset and it'll bring up a control panel on the bottom, which gives them access to trending, notes and other types of information. This is applicable to any of the assets on the screen, such as the valves or meters. This is an example of a tank summary screen that shows all the tanks in one place. Here you'll see historical hourly data and forecasting.

Adam: So this is MBI, which stands for the Mobile and Business Interface. This was built using the Perspective Module. It's what our enterprise users see when they wanna look at real-time contextualized data. Here we have an overview of our pipeline system in a subway-style display. From here, you can navigate to any one of these stations and view assets at that station and all of the data in real time. You can also view trends on MBI, you can search for any tag in the system, and watch a trend. You can also view dashboards on MBI, so here's a tank summary screen, meter summary screen, an alarm summary screen, and then we also have a couple of applications built on MBI, including peg tracking and elite detection summary screen.

Jeremiah: The Ignition SCADA system was a good choice for this project. The modern technology, along with proven security, configuration options, and scalability features, all align very well with our goals for this new system. Ignition allows us to support multiple user groups to provide that essential data to everyone that needs it and all with a secure segmented and consistent model. This includes people outside of the pipeline control room such as field technicians, business users, and managers. And everyone's able to have that same consistent and current data.

Todd: CHS has a robust, reliable and secure control system that serves the need of their pipeline operation group. That same system can safely and securely extend visualization and data into the enterprise.

Adam: Streamline was instrumental in making this project a success. Their project team put an emphasis on understanding our operations to ensure that the project deliverables align with our expectations. They also did a great job of working with our CHS IT team to deliver a best-in-class system.

Project Information

Created By:   Streamline Control

Streamline Control was founded in May of 2011, and is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Streamline team is a diverse mix of accomplished and skillful solution architects, engineers, and management consultants with a combined 75+ years of Industrial Control System experience in utilities and oil & gas. Streamline has been architecting and building SCADA systems using MQTT middleware and Ignition SCADA since 2015 and are Premier Integrators. Streamline has successfully designed, tested, and deployed midstream SCADA systems using MQTT throughout Canada and the United States.


Project For:   CHS

At CHS, our purpose is to create connections that empower agriculture. CHS is a diversified global agribusiness cooperative owned by farmers and local cooperatives across the United States. First organized in 1929, CHS employs more than 10,000 dedicated people around the globe who provide our owners and customers with a strong, efficient supply chain, access to global markets, and products and services for agricultural businesses and rural communities.


Posted on October 19, 2022