Toronto Airport Moves from Seven SCADA Systems to One

7 min video  /  4 minute read

Project Scope

  • Tags: More than 280,000
  • Screens: More than 50
  • Clients: More than 25
  • Alarms: More than 50,000
  • Devices: 128 (mostly ControlLogix, some Siemens)
  • Architecture: Standard
  • Databases: 3 (Microsoft SQL Server)
  • Historical data logged: More than 25,000 rows daily

Project Overview

This project was an upper level/HMI replacement of the baggage handling systems of both Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto Pearson International Airport. This project went into live operation in March 2020.



As part of its Baggage 2025 program, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) had a vision to modernize their baggage handling systems. The first step in this critical program was to replace the existing systems with a single upper level/SCADA system that would serve as the new heart of airport baggage operations. 

The previous upper level/SCADAs were provided by a variety of vendors over the past 15 years using different, disconnected technologies (seven different independent SCADA systems, built on three different platforms). Each system had been built by different teams using different design principles. This made the software very hard (and expensive) to support, upgrade and maintain.



The new system installed by Brock Solutions was a combination of Ignition and SmartSort (Brock’s software for baggage sortation and reporting). SmartSort is a configurable baggage sortation solution that allows the airport to meet its future expansion requirements. Ignition is the perfect platform to give the airport a true off-the-shelf solution for expansion in the future.


Ignition was selected for these key reasons:

Abstractive Design – Due to the various legacy systems in place, a platform that could allow the abstraction of various structural (displays, pop-ups, UX flow, tags, alarms), logical (PLCs, areas, process areas), and architectural (gateways/clients per area per terminal) types was necessary.

Performance – The legacy software was experiencing a large number of latency issues, thereby causing situational awareness of the operators and baggage handlers to decline over the years. The customer needed an industry-leading solution that could handle several thousand pieces of equipment with ease.

Innovation – The airport will feature the first and largest early baggage storage system in North America and this required some innovative design around the communication protocols and graphical depictions. The airport also needed a SCADA system that is geographically aware of its equipment such that situational awareness can be designated and managed. Part of the solution includes alarm-based SCADA navigation and situational awareness controls which were only possible with Ignition.

Scalability – The airport needed a solution that was flexible and could scale to accommodate hundreds of PLCs and hundreds of thousands of tags without compromising stability. Ignition does this better than all the alternatives that exist in the market.


Brock Solutions was able to continue to strengthen its partnership with Inductive Automation by delivering a state-of-the-art SCADA system at Toronto Pearson Airport — a system that is easily unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

Integrating seven disparate SCADA systems into one was no simple task. To achieve this, previous SCADA systems were studied, and various custom tools were developed to port existing tags and other information into Ignition while obeying the overall final design choices for all applicable layers of the application. This included developing more than 50 SQL scripts to convert nearly 60,000 tags from SQL format into XML. It also included converting more than 100 graphical displays from raw text, XML, CAD, gfx, MSSQL and other formats into SVGs for Ignition. 

All of this was achieved for more than 25,000 field devices leading to the construction of the SCADA system that is run on more than 70 screens in five control rooms. Brock Solutions believes this is the largest Ignition SCADA deployed at any airport worldwide. 

The previous SCADA systems were replaced by this new Ignition system through a careful process of testing and phasing on-site over a period of approximately 12 months. The existing SCADA systems were systematically replaced by the new SCADA one at a time. Each new portion was brought online in parallel with the existing one so that the system could be tested thoroughly without affecting live operations at the airport.



As the Baggage 2025 program continues over the next five years, there will be many modifications and enhancements to the baggage handling systems at the airport. The Ignition SCADA is now the firm foundation on which to build these efforts. The Brock Solutions and Inductive Automation partnership will be instrumental in allowing the GTAA to realize its vision and goals as it seeks to build upon its world-class airport.

Project Information

Created By:   Brock Solutions

Brock Solutions is an engineering solutions and professional services company specializing in the design, building, and implementation of real-time solutions for broad-based industrial/manufacturing and transportation/logistics organizations globally. With over 500 employees in North America, Brock Solutions is a privately held, employee-owned organization with over 30 years in the real-time solutions space.


Project For:   Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA)

The GTAA operates Toronto Pearson International Airport, the busiest airport in Canada.

Posted on October 1, 2020