Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition or “SCADA” for Short  

These days, SCADA systems are fundamental to industrial processes and manufacturing and building automation, so understanding what SCADA is and how it’s used is essential to those who work in those industries. To better appreciate the SCADA we have today, it’s important to know how and why it all began so continue reading for a short history of SCADA followed by some use cases.

A Brief History of SCADA 

Before automation technology became prevalent on the factory floor, the control and management of industrial manufacturing processes were carried out manually. This meant workers used buttons and analog dials on equipment out on the factory floor or in the field to check equipment statuses and record operational metrics. As factories and processes grew larger and more involved, organizations needed to monitor, control, and manage equipment and operations at a much larger scale and across greater distances.

In the 1950’s, we started to see power generation stations collect and send data from interconnected substations in different remote locations to the main control room. In the 1960’s, the advent of computers allowed industries to start adopting basic levels of automation, which enabled the remote collection and transmission of data from equipment and sensors, thus providing valuable operational insight. Next, in the 1970’s, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and remote terminal units (RTUs) came onto the industrial scene leading to the development of SCADA systems. PLCs are small computers that can receive data through inputs and send operating instructions through outputs, while RTUs are devices that can monitor and control field devices like sensors and establish interfaces between SCADA systems and physical processes.

Today, SCADA systems are used by industries from automotive, oil and gas, chemicals, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals to critical infrastructure processes like energy and water and wastewater to smart buildings and smart environments. OK, so now you’re probably thinking, “Great, that’s interesting, but what is SCADA?” What follows is a brief definition and explanation of its architecture.

What Is SCADA 

SCADA systems are industrial control systems comprised of both hardware and software components for the purpose of gathering, analyzing, and displaying real-time data from devices to monitor and control industrial processes. These systems are fundamental in allowing industrial organizations to understand their processes, so they can make data-driven decisions for optimizing operations.  

The hardware and software components of a SCADA system work in symphony with each other. The hardware includes devices such as sensors, switches, and relays and has the primary function of data acquisition, i.e., capturing crucial operational data. This data is sent to the PLCs or RTUs to translate the data into an industry standard protocol, so it can be both consumed and utilized for better operational understanding. The SCADA software contextualizes and analyzes the data from the hardware and can also be programmed for control and fault detection. The data is then sent to the Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) to be transformed into visualizations of the operations through gauges, data charts, tables, alarm notifications, trends, etc. and that can be interpreted by operators to make informed data-driven decisions.

Why You Need a SCADA System 

Now is the age of industrial digital transformation, and SCADA systems are part of this advanced interconnected world of smart factories, smart buildings, and smart operations. A SCADA system allows companies in the industrial manufacturing, industrial process, and building automation spaces to increase operational and energy efficiency. Specifically, SCADA systems:

  • Enable organizations to acquire data and transform it into useful information, which is crucial to eliminating data silos and getting the most value out of historical data.
  • Allow companies to track and record the data/events and thus streamline operational contextualization.
  • Provide substantial time, work, and operational cost savings.
  • Contribute to sustainability initiatives because of the valuable insight these systems offer to managing and running energy efficient industrial factories and processes.

SCADA Systems Provide Significant Value 

Primarily, SCADA systems are used to make more informed decisions based on captured operational data. These systems can be used for analytics, fault detection, and alarm and energy management, which can result in increased asset life and decreased downtime, improved maintenance scheduling, and overall operational optimization. It’s a win-win situation that provides significant value. Let’s look now at the value that ICONICS GENESIS64 SCADA solution provides. 

What ICONICS GENESIS64 Suite Brings to the Table 

From a 64-bit high-performance architecture to the power of “OPC to the Core” and the ability to connect to virtually any equipment, the ICONICS GENESIS64 Suite is uniquely differentiated from any other HMI/SCADA solutions. It’s easy to install, configure, and maintain by end users and includes behind-the-scenes interfaces for automated configuration by system integrators. Advanced, secured, and unified web-enabled visualizations for “Any Glass” combined with superior alarming, analytics, workflows, notifications, and redundancy, our SCADA solution addresses applications in industrial manufacturing and process and building automation markets and has been doing so since 1986. Tested and proven, GENESIS64 will get the job done.

So, if you want to find out more about a high-performance SCADA system, have a look at ICONICS GENESIS64 SCADA software or better yet, ask for a demo. You can also contact us. In any case, we’ll get you up to speed on the latest and most advanced trends in SCADA applications. You can also watch one of the webcasts from our Transform 360 Webcast SeriesLearn from the SCADA Experts and Become a Power User” to better understand the capabilities of a high-performance SCADA system.