Modern SCADA, MQTT, and the Cloud Bring Intelligent Buildings for SNCF, the French National Railway Company

6 min video  /  3 minute read

Project Scope

  • Tags: 10,000
  • Screens: 20
  • Clients: Unlimited Perspective Clients; 250 daily users
  • Alarms: 500 progressive
  • Devices used: 35 concentrator PLCs, 150+ local PLCs
  • Architectures used: Edge IIoT (MQTT SpB) and Cloud Perspective/ Reporting/ Notification
  • Databases used: MySQL
  • Historical data logged: 5,000 tags in Ignition Historian

Project Overview

This project is about digital transformation for railway stations across France. The challenge was to collect and interact with greenfield and brownfield facilities in a highly distributed BMS-like environment.



Three years ago, the western management of the SNCF's Gares et Connexions entity began thinking about updating its command and control systems for onsite and remote operators, as well as subcontractors for the various operating and maintenance contracts.

There are several obstacles to this approach: the diversity of needs (technical installations for water distribution and lifting, heating/air conditioning, intrusion surveillance, energy distribution, etc.), the different generations and suppliers of products in use, the mix of technologies (IoT LoRa, Modbus TCP and RTU, BACnet, Sofrel, etc.), and station renovations or new projects underway. In addition, it was necessary to have a solution which could respond to user demand (mobility, control) and to new needs which arise during the project, while ensuring data and site integrity and cybersecurity.



HTTProject teamed up with AXONE-IO (the French distributor of Ignition) to define a solution that is easy to deploy, allows freedom of choice on the sites (for the automation and local integrators), can handle a progressive ramp-up (there are currently about 30 stations, more than 50 by the end of the year) and can respond to different and evolving needs.

The solution is built around local Ignition Edge licenses (IIoT and Panel when necessary) that collect data from the site's PLCs for all the different business lines (water, energy, security, access control, etc.). In this sense, it acts as a protocol gateway transforming polling protocols into IIoT protocols.

In a cloud data center, one instance of Ignition Pro integrates all sites with Sparkplug B MQTT modules from Cirrus Link Solutions. Cirrus Link’s CTO, Arlen Nipper, is a co-inventor of MQTT. Cirrus Link has created several MQTT modules for Ignition and has made Ignition its go-to product for SCADA/IIoT applications.

The architecture offers many benefits. MQTT is the most efficient protocol for distributed IIoT architectures. It’s report-by-exception and low protocol overhead ensure efficient and cost-effective communications (4G data). Outbound connections, TLS 1.3 support, and access control lists ensure secure transmissions and protect remote sites.

With Sparkplug B, the open-source specification for MQTT topic and payload, the infrastructure offers a state management mechanism that uses birth and will messages (stateful awareness), a topic namespace structure which defines a unique name space, ensures secure access to MQTT topics, compresses data (with Google Protocol Buffer), and adds file transfer services (useful for video) and time-stamped history management at the source.



With the Ignition and MQTT Sparkplug platform, HTTProject was able to implement a flexible solution that meets all requirements.

Ignition Perspective has made it possible to create applications that can be adapted to all terminals (responsive design); these are not simple dashboards, but real industrial supervision applications in the palm of your hand!

More than 250 users can view and control the installations from anywhere on their mobile devices or from any computer on the network. With alarm notification, external users are alerted in real time of any deviations and use their remote access to correct anomalies.

Perhaps most importantly, with Ignition, MQTT, and Sparkplug B, the choice of technology and site integrator is free. The definition of assets is done at the edge level, so the unique name space is used by all applications from the moment of publication on the MQTT infrastructure.

Equipment control is less than a second at all points on the network. The reliability, flexibility, and performance of the solution is such that other projects using more conventional techniques will use the data produced by Ignition. And this is just the beginning. Ignition can expand almost indefinitely with its unlimited license and the scalability of MQTT Sparkplug B.

Project Information

Created By:   High Tech for Telecontrol Project (HTTProject)

HTTProject is an innovative company in the fields of building management, water management, and industrial automation. For almost 10 years, HTTProject has made the strategic choice to use Ignition for the majority of its projects. HTTProject brings freshness, agility, and cost control to automation and supervision projects.


Project For:   SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français) (French National Railway Company)

SNCF Gares et Connexions is responsible for the management of passenger stations of the French national rail network. SNCF has a strong presence in more than 400 French cities.

Posted on October 1, 2021