What is SCADA?

SCADA systems are the backbone of modern industry

What is SCADA Used For?

SCADA (Supervisory control and data acquisition) is an industrial automation control system at the core of many modern industries, including:

  • Energy
  • Food and beverage
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and gas
  • Power
  • Recycling
  • Transportation
  • Water and waste water
  • And many more

SCADA systems are used by private companies and public-sector service providers. SCADA works well in many different types of enterprises because they can range from simple configurations to large, complex projects.

Virtually anywhere you look in today's world, there is some type of SCADA system running behind the scenes, whether at your local supermarket, refinery, waste water treatment plant, or even your own home.

How Do SCADA Systems Work?

SCADA systems deploy multiple software and hardware elements that allow industrial organizations to:

  • Monitor, gather, and process data
  • Interact with and control machines and devices such as valves, pumps, motors, and more, which are connected through HMI (human-machine interface) software
  • Record events into a log file

In basic SCADA architectures, information from sensors or manual inputs are sent to PLCs (programmable logic controllers) or RTUs (remote terminal units), which then send that information to computers with SCADA software. SCADA software analyzes and displays the data in order to help operators and other workers to reduce waste and improve efficiency in the manufacturing process.

Effective SCADA systems can result in significant savings of time and money. Numerous case studies have been published highlighting the benefits and savings of using a modern SCADA software solution such as Ignition.

Click here to view SCADA case studies

The Evolution of SCADA

In the 1950s, the first mini-computers were first developed and used for industrial purposes. In the 1960s, what were once mini-computers were now considered mid-sized and they were used for remote monitoring and supervisory control.

The term “SCADA” was coined in the early 1970s, and the rise of microprocessors and programmable logic controllers (PLCs) during that decade gave enterprises a greater ability to monitor and control automated processes than ever before.

In the 1980s and 1990s, SCADA evolved again with the wide use of local area networks (LAN), which enabled SCADA systems to be connected to other systems, and the introduction of PC-based HMI software.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, structured query language (SQL) databases became the standard for IT databases but were not adopted by SCADA developers. This resulted in a rift between the fields of controls and IT, and SCADA technology became antiquated over time.

Modern SCADA Systems

Modern SCADA systems allow real-time data from the plant floor to be accessed from anywhere in the world. This access to real-time information allows governments, businesses, and individuals to make data-driven decisions about how to improve their processes. Without SCADA software, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to gather sufficient data for consistently well-informed decisions.

Also, most modern SCADA designer applications have rapid application development (RAD) capabilities that allow users to design applications relatively easily, even if they don't have extensive knowledge of software development.

The introduction of modern IT standards and practices such as SQL and web-based applications into SCADA software has greatly improved the efficiency, security, productivity, and reliability of SCADA systems.

SCADA software that utilizes the power of SQL databases provides huge advantages over antiquated SCADA software. One big advantage of using SQL databases with a SCADA system is that it makes it easier to integrate into existing MES and ERP systems, allowing data to flow seamlessly through an entire organization.

Historical data from a SCADA system can also be logged in a SQL database, which allows for easier data analysis through data trending.

Ignition HMI/SCADA Software

Ignition by Inductive Automation® is an industrial automation software platform that many businesses and organizations have switched to for their HMI/SCADA needs.

Ignition has been installed in thousands of locations in over 70 countries since 2010. Its powerful and robust nature allows SCADA system integrators to reach the demands of their customers while costing less than other SCADA software solutions.

Here are a few reasons why more enterprises are choosing Ignition:

  • Ignition uses modern IT practices that make it compatible with current SCADA system components.
  • Its unique licensing model lets users pay a flat fee based on the number of servers. Other SCADA vendors typically charge per client or per tag, but Ignition offers unlimited clients and tags.
  • Ignition is web-deployable: it can be downloaded and installed in a few minutes, and clients can be launched or updated instantly.

Inductive Automation's motto of "Dream it. Do it." is a perfect embodiment of what Ignition can do. While its bold claims may sound too good to be true, one demonstration of the software proves how powerful it really is. Once you see what's possible, you’ll begin to imagine how the software can fit your SCADA needs and open up new possibilities.

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