The New SCADA Movement That Is Changing Manufacturing
To future-proof your enterprise, you need more than great technology.15 minute read Download PDF
Is Your System Future-Proof?
A future-proof system is one that is made in such a way that it is unlikely to become obsolete.
“Future-proof” is similar to the idea of “built to last,” which may not sound like a new idea but is rare in the world of technology, where the latest tech devices seem to become obsolete not long after they hit the market. The upgrade cycle seems to spin around ever faster, creating a never-ending need to buy the latest systems, gadgets, and apps. Future-proofing is seen as a way of breaking this cycle of “planned obsolescence.”
Inductive Automation has made SCADA technology more future-proof through its modular, web-based, and scalable software called Ignition. Many enterprises have been held back from innovating by SCADA software built on outdated technology and sold under restrictive licensing. Ignition, which is best described as The New SCADA, corrects this problem with modern technologies: it is web-deployed, flexible, database-friendly, performs true real-time analytics, features rapid installation and development, and is platform-independent.
Also, The New SCADA comes with unlimited licensing, which allows users to have unlimited clients, tags, and connections. Its new licensing model makes for a system that is fully scalable while being practical and affordable. In short, Ignition is The New SCADA for the 21st century.
Is Your Company Future-Proof?
The technology of The New SCADA helps your company stay competitive; it does not have to become obsolete because of limited and outdated technology. For example, there is a rising interest among manufacturers in MES and OEE solutions. With Ignition, a plant can expand its SCADA system into MES, or just use it for MES – whatever works best for its needs. Users have the freedom to add or remove modules without sending their licensing costs soaring, or adversely affecting the underlying system. Industrial organizations and system integrators can adapt swiftly to trends, which means The New SCADA is not only new today but it can stay new tomorrow.
The New SCADA is intended to help you future-proof your system and ensure that nothing related to technology blocks your company from reaching its potential. It is a total user experience built on four pillars: new technology, a new licensing model, a new business model, and a new ethical model. All of these aspects are essential to the future of SCADA and the vast number of enterprises that rely on it.
While we tend to associate innovation with technology, there is more to innovation than just technology. The way that SCADA technology is sold and the ethics behind it also affect an enterprise’s ability to innovate. As you’ll read, the business and ethical models are just as essential to The New SCADA as its breakthrough technology and licensing.
Innovating the Business Model
Under the old SCADA licensing model, the total cost of the SCADA system becomes so expensive that it is impractical for enterprises to do any more than the minimum with it. How can enterprises innovate under these conditions? And how can they afford to give up on innovating when business and technology are being disrupted all around them? SCADA is being pushed towards obsolescence, largely because innovation is taking a back seat to profits. The time has come to break the old model and create a new model that benefits everyone, not just the SCADA software makers.
The New SCADA business model empowers industrial organizations and integrators, because it is based on an understanding that a company will succeed when its users succeed. This is why Inductive Automation allows anyone to download the full version of Ignition and use it for free in trial mode for an unlimited time. It’s also why Ignition users aren’t charged for each client, tag, or connection, but only for each server. Rather than charging customers for every individual need, The New SCADA’s business model helps them to get more out of their system, which allows them to be more successful and ultimately benefits everyone involved.
Many enterprises have unlocked much greater value from their systems and processes through The New SCADA. One example of this is Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. It is one of the United States’ premier craft breweries, with facilities located in California and North Carolina. The brewing company has used Inductive Automation software since 2004. “At first, we were using it on a trial basis. We were trying to get some data out of the PLC, and we quickly realized that it was useful to us in ways that far exceeded the SCADA application,” says David Lewis, system analyst for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
Over the past decade, the brewery has built many applications including a full MES suite, a statistical process control (SPC) solution, a warehouse management system (WMS), and an interface between their WMS and ERP systems. “The ease with which we can use Ignition to design, build, and deploy is just amazing, and the only cost is the time that we spend in coding. We do things now that we never dreamed were possible with the old system,” Lewis says.
“Our department exists because of Ignition,” Lewis adds. “We have an entire team that uses it as their primary tool for building applications and solutions for an entire enterprise, so we’re not just focusing on SCADA, or the production of beer, but we’re using it throughout the entire enterprise.”
Beyond the technology itself, the support behind The New SCADA has been a great resource to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Lewis says, “One of the first things that we noticed when we first bought Inductive Automation software, and this has never changed in the last decade, is that the quality of technical support has just been outstanding. That has really been a strong selling point in their favor … I have to emphasize that the level of tech support is incredible.”
The New SCADA is more than a piece of software; it is a whole new user experience that unlocks and accelerates innovation. From development and quality assurance to support and training, every division in Inductive Automation is focused on creating, supporting, and expanding The New SCADA to the global Ignition community.
Integrators play an irreplaceable role in the industrial automation industry. They are the ones who are called upon to build new systems or to expand or update existing systems. They apply nuts-and-bolts knowledge to make the plans of industrial organizations into reality. They solve problems, and build the systems and applications that enterprises need to improve their processes. Because they are often in a position to recommend which software should be used to complete a project, they can play an influential role in the sales process.
“Ignition brought the passion back, and it brought differentiation, and it has excited our engineers about what they can accomplish." – Chris McLaughlin Director of Operations, Trimax Systems
Inductive Automation recognizes the important role of integrators and strives to cultivate their success. “In addition to great tech support, Inductive Automation has great integrator support,” says Chris McLaughlin, director of operations for Trimax Systems, an Ignition Certified Premier and MES Certified integrator based in California. “They provide a lot of resources that make it easier for you to learn how to sell, how to train your engineers, and how to help get business. They are constantly providing help in that area,” he says.
Trimax Systems has been in business for more than 30 years. Before it began using Ignition in 2010, it had, like many system integrators, seen many of its services become commodities. With Ignition, the company found a new way to differentiate itself.
“Ignition brought the passion back, and it brought differentiation, and it has excited our engineers about what they can accomplish. It also has helped us win business with many different clients, and we are about to embark on the largest project that we’ve done in 31 years, and it is solely because of Inductive Automation that we got into it,” says McLaughlin. The company is now hiring and expanding, thanks to the technology and integrator support of Inductive Automation.
Inductive Automation’s strong focus on integrators grows from its own roots. The president and CEO of Inductive Automation, Steve Hechtman, worked as an integrator for 15 years before founding the company in 2003. Like many integrators, Hechtman had become frustrated with expensive and impractical industrial software. He assembled a team of developers and they set out to build a better solution. Their efforts eventually led to the development of Ignition.
Inductive Automation continues to strongly support integrators with tools for success. It offers an Integrator Program that includes certification. Any qualified integrator can join the Inductive Automation Integrator Program for free. There are currently over 1,100 integrators from more than 80 countries in the program. The company provides free tech support for Ignition integrators. Free tech support is very unusual for the industry, but it is based on an understanding that qualified and knowledgeable integrators are a powerful sales force.
The Inductive Automation Integrator Program
Along with free tech support, the Integrator Program offers software discounts, the ability to implement a system using Ignition without upfront costs or obligations, and help with customer leads. Even with all of these benefits, the company doesn’t require its integrators to offer its software first or exclusively; it implicitly trusts them to make the best software recommendations for their customers.
In The New SCADA’s business model, mutually beneficial success can be achieved by nurturing longterm partnerships with integrators and industrial organizations, instead of trying to extract as much profit from them as possible in the short term.
Ethics: Selling Out vs. Staying Independent
Business is about relationships, and good relationships are built on trust. But trust can be hard to find in today’s business culture, where start-up companies seek to grow quickly and then sell out if they become successful (especially in the technology sector).
It must be a good deal for the owners who are selling their company and for the company that’s buying it, but what about their customers, integrators, and employees? The company that sells out breaks the trust of the customers who made it successful in the first place. The vision that once drove the company is thrown into question. The technology that its customers count on could be overhauled or axed by a new owner who may not fully understand it.
When a company sells out, it becomes beholden to stockholders and venture capitalists. Its focus inevitably shifts from putting its customers first to putting its shareholders first. The passion for innovation gets eclipsed by the passion for profits.
A number of SCADA companies have taken the path of selling out to large conglomerates, but Inductive Automation has remained an independent company and is growing dramatically. This is because the company hasn’t lost sight of why it was founded in the first place, which is to reinvent the industry and the SCADA user experience.
Founder Steve Hechtman never intended to create another SCADA software company, but when the SCADA companies of the time failed to deliver what he needed for his integration business, he set out to build it himself. As Hechtman says, “If even one SCADA company had even a semblance of the four pillars, I would have used it and Inductive Automation would never have been born.”
The New SCADA is built upon a higher ethical model that is characterized by a greater loyalty to the user community than to the pursuit of profits. By remaining independent, with no outside investors, Inductive Automation is in a strong position to continue in its mission of reinventing SCADA software and the industry as a whole. Independence allows the company to focus on the long-term picture of innovation rather than on quarterly profits, and to keep the needs of its user community front and center.
“What really sold us on Inductive Automation was the ethical pillar,” says Pete Hassler of ILS Automation, an Ignition Gold Certified system integrator based in Illinois. “Every system has its pros and cons in terms of technology, but Inductive Automation really has a unique ethical perspective of fairness and really trying to make everyone successful and share the benefits of that.
Igniting a New Movement
The New SCADA is made up of four pillars, which are: the new technology, the new licensing model, the new business model, and the new ethical model. Together, these four pillars are supporting a new global community of professionals who use and build with Ignition.
Because The New SCADA can span over an entire enterprise, it is used by a wider group of people than those who work mainly on the plant floor. This is why the Ignition community is made up integrators, IT managers, engineers, executives, plant supervisors, operators, and many others.
The New SCADA is bringing people across the enterprise together and empowering them to connect, share data, and collaborate as never before. It is also giving them opportunities to connect with other people in the global Ignition community. This community is bringing together individuals from many industries who have discovered the possibilities of Ignition and have a passion for building new solutions with it.
In this way, The New SCADA is more than a product, a company, or even an industry – it is a movement. While the purpose of an ordinary SCADA company is basically to sell software and make money, the mission of The New SCADA movement is to change SCADA permanently.
To some, “collaboration” and “community” may sound like nice platitudes, but innovation has become essential for business survival, and the community provides the best way to engage in the type of collaboration that leads to true innovation. Great technology is obviously important but it is not enough on its own. Using the best software in the world can result in a beautiful system or a horrible one. To create and maintain a successful project, one also needs the competence, confidence, knowledge, and support that is developed in a community.
The most valuable part of The New SCADA is not the software or the company behind it, but the thriving community that has formed around it. The Ignition community has the power to create lasting change, and all four pillars of The New SCADA are absolutely essential to maintaining it.
You Are The New SCADA
Usually, a company sells a product which defines the parameters of what the users can do; it’s a top-down interaction. By contrast, those who work with The New SCADA benefit from a total user experience and a community that facilitates innovation, which in turn benefits other users. Through the projects they build, the people in the Ignition community are contributing to the movement and taking the technology even further.
Kymera Systems is an Inductive Automation Certified Premier Integrator that has developed five modules that are currently available on Inductive Automation’s Module Marketplace online store. The Alberta, Canada-based company also has several other modules in the works. Kyle Chase, CEO of Kymera Systems, started developing modules once Inductive Automation released its software development kit (SDK). Chase says, “I think other integrators should definitely use Ignition’s SDK, because you can protect your code better, you can reuse your code, and you can allow other integrators to gain from what you’ve written. It helps the community as a whole. As a community, the more resources we have out there, the stronger we are.”
With Ignition, Kymera Systems has been able to develop tailored solutions for its customers’ needs. “For us, that’s what sets us apart as an integrator,” Chase says. When customers ask if they can set up communication between devices, Kymera Systems can use Ignition’s existing OPC framework and build drivers in much less time than if making them from scratch.
Chase also says, “For us, Ignition changes the kind of projects that we can do. People came up to us when we used previous systems, and would say, ‘Can we integrate data from System A with data from System B?’ And the typical answer would be ‘No’ or ‘We’ll have to get back to the vendor.’ With Ignition, we never have to say no. There’s always a way to get something done, there’s always a way to integrate some piece of technology that we couldn’t integrate before. As integrators, it allows us to go into meetings knowing that there’s always a way to crack the armor, there’s always some way that Ignition can help them with their day-to-day life.
Like Kymera Systems, other integrators and industrial organizations are also pushing The New SCADA forward. As the global Ignition community grows, more and more of its members are developing modules, building innovative projects, and teaching sessions based on Ignition. They play an active part in exploring and spreading The New SCADA’s technology. Their needs drive the roadmap of product development. They are building The New SCADA alongside the developers of Ignition in a collaborative movement that is unlike anything the SCADA industry has seen.
The New SCADA movement is built on modern technology, a flexible platform, unlimited licensing, an empowering business model, world-class support, a commitment to putting the user community first, a passion for innovation, and a collaborative community. As a member of this movement, you can help build the future of SCADA and ensure that your enterprise has the right resources to be future-proof.