SCADA Systems Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems are essential components of industrial automation, serving three primary purposes – supervision, control, and data acquisition. A SCADA software typically comprises one or more computers which perform supervisory functions while also serving as human-machine interfaces (HMI), Remote Terminal Units (RTUs), I/O modules, or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), that interface directly with process machinery; peripheral devices which interface with these pieces of machinery via RTUs/I/O modules/PLCs as well as communication networks which ensure correct exchanges of information among devices/supervisory computers/supervision computers/supervision computers/supervision;
SCADA in Industrial Process Control Systems
The Supervisory function of a SCADA system gives operators an immediate view of process status and evolution by analyzing operating states over time. A key task of supervision is realizing an HMI, providing quick and complete pictures of process status, evolution and any unexpected deviations (alarms). A graphic representation provides this essential service by conveying relevant data easily understood by its operator.
Control Within SCADA systems, control is the ability for an interaction between the control system and a controlled process that alters its evolution based on pre-established rules or decisions made by its operator. Note that “real-time process control” – typically associated with PLCs – and SCADA refers instead to changing how processes evolve, such as sending different work recipes for instance.
Data acquisition refers to the transfer of information between peripheral devices and supervisory computers and vice versa, enabling supervisory systems to control processes by changing values that govern its operation, in turn leading to modifications of values that govern operation variables. Data acquisition is one of the key functions performed by SCADA systems; connecting processes directly to them gives their supervision system all necessary details on process status to monitor it effectively.
SCADA Systems and Their Benefits Its SCADA applications have become an indispensable aid to many industrial fields and sectors of activity, providing several advantages over manual processes:
SCADA systems collect, save, and make available system status data for further processing, with an eye on quality control, efficiency improvement and production optimization.
SCADA systems give operators a clear picture of production plants: SCADA systems provide operators with a graphical depiction of all processes involved, their evolution over time and any unexpected deviations that might arise.
Adapting to Company Growth: SCADA software’s modular and flexible structure enables it to adapt easily to changing situations that arise as the company expands or transforms.
Simplifying control of remote units: SCADA applications enable centralized control of peripheral units while providing technical staff with easy access to all information via browser.
SCADA, IoT, and Industry 4.0
With the growing adoption of cloud applications comes an increased emphasis on SCADA technologies that integrate with IoT devices and services; SCADA systems can increase IoT potential. Integrating both technologies allow for much quicker, more detailed, and safer data collection and verification processes for company records. These systems are particularly adept at handling remote maintenance, diagnosis, and control as well as monitoring machine working conditions and energy and water consumption for emissions reduction purposes, controlling quality at production system level and associated processes. Key technologies used in Industry 4.0 such as SCADA, IoT, cloud, big data analytics and cybersecurity may also be included within such systems.
Types of SCADA Systems
SCADA systems can be divided into categories depending on their software platform, system architecture and real-time requirements.
Software Platform: SCADA systems may be built using either dedicated platforms – software designed specifically to monitor a machine or plant – or open platforms, which provide users with an Integrated Development Environment for creating SCADA apps.
System Architecture: SCADA systems may consist of one or multiple supervisory PCs connected directly to field devices or through local area networks (LAN) and public Internet connections arranged hierarchically on multiple levels.
Real-Time Requirements: Some SCADA systems don’t impose specific real-time requirements, while others have stringent real-time standards. Such systems typically consist of several microcontrollers connected through local networks to one another and to a supervisory PC, using deterministic operating systems capable of providing response times that fall in the order of milliseconds.
How to Select the Appropriate SCADA System
Selecting the ideal SCADA software depends on a number of variables, including its complexity, its required performances, customer constraints and available budget. Learning time may also play a factor. When making your selection it must always balance desired performance against costs such as license costs or development timeframes and learning/development times.
SCADA systems play a vital role in industrial process control. By offering robust supervision, control, and data acquisition capabilities, SCADA enables efficient management of industrial processes. Furthermore, as they evolve with emerging technologies like IoT integration they will likely play an even larger part in shaping future of automation and Industry 4.0.