What is SCADA?
Supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, is a system composed of both hardware and software elements that allow the control of processes both remotely and locally for industrial organizations.
This means that industries can use SCADA to gather, monitor, and process data from anywhere. SCADA allows management to directly interact with sensors, pumps, motors, and other mechanical operations through human-machine interface software, known as HMI. Also, SCADA systems record events in a data log. Keep reading below for more information about the benefits of SCADA across industries, and click here to learn more from a SCADA provider in California.
A Brief History of SCADA
Prior to the invention of the computer in the 1950s, industrial plants and manufacturing floor equipment was controlled manually. This meant personnel were required to be on site to monitor and control this equipment through analog means such as dials, levers, and buttons. It was very time consuming, as you can imagine.
Eventually, as these sites began to grow in size, relays and timers were used to allow some supervisory control without having to be on the spot to interact with each device.
When the first computers finally came along in the 1950s, they were used for industrial control. Automation of systems was being used for industrial markets such as oil and gas pipelines and consumer utilities.
By the ’60s, automation had further improved. Monitoring systems using telemetry allowed transmission of data from monitoring equipment to a central location.
In the early 1970s, microprocessors came along, allowing increased control and monitoring of processes. It wasn’t until the 1990s through the early 2000’s that the advent of open system architecture allowed communications from other systems and networks, expanding the possibilities of what SCADA could do.
Why is SCADA and Other Automation Systems Important to Industry?
In today’s world, as technology improves and we learn more about how to streamline SCADA and other automated control systems such as PLC and DCS. Their potential applications in industry are unparalleled.
The global expansion of industry means businesses, individuals, and even governments need to make data-driven decisions and SCADA software allows them access to real-time information in order to improve their processes from wherever they may be.
SCADA can be used to connect PLCs, DCSs, and central servers from any number of databases and bring them to your computer and even your mobile device anywhere in the world. This type of at-your-fingertips access is critical in a world where everything from operations to communication and marketing is done via our mobile phones.
Not only does SCADA allow you to optimize your processes through data monitoring, it virtually eliminates the possibility of human error. But most importantly, SCADA means safety. If there is a critical error at any point in the operation, SCADA allows a chain of commands to be carried out immediately.
These SCADA applications are customizable and can be tailored to meet monitoring needs ranging from simple to highly complex, depending on your business type and budget.
Some Industry Examples and SCADA Applications
Oil and Gas
This industry is a great example of how SCADA applications can be used for safety monitoring.
SCADA systems monitor and control pipelines, remotely control production and are used at refineries and petrochemical stations. Obviously, these types of processes need to be closely monitored because there is great potential for dangerous situations to occur. SCADA allows critical errors to be remedied immediately. For example, a pipeline leak can be detected and protocol for containing it can all be programmed through the same SCADA monitoring system.
Water treatment and distribution centers also need careful monitoring. If there is an issue such as contamination or leak anywhere along the supply chain or during processing, it is crucial that it be caught and remedied.
Everything from power distribution and transmission must be carefully monitored. SCADA allows that without requiring the type of onsite manpower that translates to more money and time. Security breaches are a modern concern that SCADA systems can monitor as well.
Food and Beverage
Even the food and beverage sector can benefit from SCADA systems. This industry encompasses production, distribution, retail, and service. There are several areas where SCADA systems can be applied.
From manufacturing and process control to brewing beer and managing recipes, SCADA systems are able to monitor data and control safety and quality.
SCADA systems can be applied to many facets of many industries. This allows improvement of processes through data analysis and safety through its monitoring capabilities while saving time and manpower via its remote access options. It’s no wonder that in today’s global world, SCADA systems are absolutely essential to growth and maintenance across industries.