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Government Bid Results Reveal What Prices You Might Pay for a SCADA RTU

By Andrew Erickson

February 11, 2023

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Let's look at a few SCADA-related bid documents to see what prices are being paid for SCADA RTUs. Your actual cost will vary, but this data can help you as you plan your future SCADA budgeting.

Two bid result documents summarizing the prices offered.
Government bids for SCADA RTUs reveal useful information about what prices others are paying for similar monitoring & control devices.

Example #1: SCADA RTU Panel Upgrade Project for Emerald Coast Utilities Authority

This bid tabulation is for the installation of a SCADA RTU panel for remote monitoring and control of utility systems.

To start with, we have the price for Qty 1 of the "SCADA RTU Assembly" being offered. I have to assume that different models are being suggested to meet the specs, because there is about a 50% difference between lowest and highest price.

The 3 prices bid by three different contractors in this RFP are:

  • $12,910
  • $18,195
  • $12,500

We also get to see the discounts offered for different bulk quantities of SCADA RTUs

RTU QtyBid 1Bid 1 Qty DiscountBid 2Bid 2 Qty DiscountBid 3Bid 3 Qty Discount
1$12,910.00-$18,195-$12,500.00-
10120300$8,800$136,463$45,488$112,500$12,500
20237340$20,860$272,925$90,975$225,000$25,000
30351990$35,310$409,388$136,463$337,500$37,500

As you can see, the largest price for "Qty 1" also has the largest associated quantity discount by quite a large margin. For this agency, a big part of choosing a bidder must have been understanding how many units they were likely to buy.

Of course, what is not represented on this simple bid tabulation sheet are the relative technical qualifications of each bidder's offering. Those probably varied widely. With a price gap this close (when you figure in quantity discounting), the technical variation among the different SCADA RTUs were likely to be the deciding factor here.

As you've heard me say many times before, monitoring has tremendous leverage. A little bit of increased remote monitoring and control quality translates into a large dollar amount if just one site visit or (worse) expensive incident can be eliminated.

It's worth spending some time to research the technical specifications of each bid before you make your decision. A little bit of extra effort up front can save a lot of money in the long run.

Finally, remember that these prices may not reflect your own real-world pricing for SCADA RTUs since they are taken from an RFP with specific requirements. If you are looking for SCADA RTUs for a different application, you may find that prices vary significantly from the bids represented here.

Price is only one factor to take into consideration when making your choice for a SCADA RTU purchase. Don't forget about technical specs, customer service and support, and implementation needs as you make your decision. These are all important factors in choosing the right SCADA RTU for your application.

Example #2: Bid Results for "Electrical Work for SCADA and RTU Upgrade" for Count of Maui

Here's another SCADA-related bid that got just two bidders. It's termed "electrical work", but the prices involved make think we're also dealing with low-voltage SCADA wiring also.

The two bidders in this project bid the following amounts:

  • $153,712
  • $107,487 (this is indicated as the "tentative low bidder")

Interestingly, there's an "Apprenticeship Program Credit" that effectively reduces each bidder's proposed price by about $5000-$8000 dollars. We can assume that this relates to something that the county seeks to incentivize: ongoing labor market training for the next generation of electricians.

A second credit column, "Hawaii Products Preference Credit", is $0 for both bidders. This indicates that the various required hardware for this project is not sourced from the state of Hawaii.

As you may know, the number of wire pairs involved in SCADA installations can be very large. For example, our NetGuardian 832A RTU uses two 50-pin amphenols to carry 50 pairs (100 conductors) from the RTU to the 66 block or other termination method. Other NetGuardian models use spring clamps or screw-down terminals to handle smaller numbers of connections. The trend more recently has been toward SCADA protocols for device-to-RTU communication, but there is still plenty of wiring required on a typical project in 2023.

Of course, with a six-figure price tag, we can assume that this is for multiple sites. The "Bid Results" sheet I found didn't specify, but your project budget will always be multiplied by the number of locations that are involved.

Unfortunately, you see a lot less quantity discounting with services than with hardware purchases. Also, transportation issues to very remote sites (ex. dirt roads, helicopter rentals) can dramatically increase the cost of getting contractors to sites (and the labor hours you might pay while they're traveling).

Example #3: SCADA RTU Prices from a "Made in USA" Manufacturer

For our last example, I volunteer the price ranges for the RTUs that we offer here at DPS. We have SCADA RTUs starting below $1000. There are some larger and very capable models that exceed $5000. Many medium-sized models sell around the middle of that price range.

This isn't the absolute cheapest price you can find for something that can "check the box" on your project plan, but there's a lot more to this type of SCADA work than just price. Compared to a "$295 solution", US-based manufacturing offers some advantages:

  • Extra advantage during some bids, especially state and federal infrastructure projects within the United States or for federal agencies abroad.
  • Tight integration between Sales, Engineering, and Production for better RTU reliability (if Sales and Engineering are also in-house, as it is at DPS).
  • Easier communication due to reduced/eliminated time-zone differences (DPS has staff stationed on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the US).
  • Increased ability to request and receive semi-custom RTUs on a tight timeline.

Call DPS to Discuss the SCADA RTU You Need Right Now

Every SCADA project is different. No matter how many sites you have, how much budget you have, or what existing equipment you must integrate, your next best step is to talk to an expert.

At DPS, we're available for a discussion - even if you're months or even years away from a purchase. In durable B2B infrastructure, long projects are the norm. We're happy to give you information as a starting point.

Call DPS at 1-800-693-0351 or email us at sales@dpstele.com to speak with an engineer today.

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Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...