SCADA, also known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, is a system of software and hardware elements that allows industrial organizations to control, monitor, and process real-time data. SCADA allows direct interactions with sensors, valves, pumps, motors and more, and then records events into a comprehensive log file. SCADA systems are crucial since they help maintain efficiency, process data for more knowledgeable decisions, and communicate system issues to help mitigate downtime.
How does SCADA work?
SCADA systems are used to monitor and control a plant or equipment in industries such as telecommunications, water and waste control, energy, oil and gas refining and transportation. A SCADA system gathers information, such as where a leak on a pipeline has occurred, transfers the information back to a central site, alerting the home station that the leak has occurred, carrying out necessary analysis and control, such as determining if the leak is critical, and displaying the information in a logical and organized fashion.
The basic architecture of SCADA includes programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or remote terminal units (RTUs), which are microcomputers that communicate with a plethora of objects (factory machines, sensors, and end devices). This communication allows the objects to send the information to computers with the SCADA software, which distributes, processes, and displays the data.
The Evolution of SCADA
The SCADA concept was developed as a universal means of remote access to a variety of local control modules, which could be from different manufacturers allowing access through standard automation protocols. In practice, large SCADA systems have grown to become very similar to distributed control systems in function, but using multiple means of interfacing with the plant.
In the early 1950s, computers were first developed and used for industrial control purposes. Supervisory control began to become popular among the major utilities, oil and gas pipelines, and other industrial markets at that time. In the 1960s, telemetry was established for monitoring, which allowed for automated communications to transmit measurements and other data from remotes sites to monitoring equipment. The term “SCADA” was coined in the early 1970s, and the rise of microprocessors and PLCs during that decade increased enterprises’ ability to monitor and control automated processes more than ever before.
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.
Benefits of Utilizing a SCADA System
SCADA systems are integrated into the systems of organizations in the industrial field and companies in both the private and public sector, because they control efficiency, distribute data for wiser decision-making, and the communication between objects can help to identify issues quicker and resolve them faster. Look at almost any industry in the modern world, and there is some sort of SCADA system behind that industry. The best SCADA systems result in saving both time and money.
With the commercial availability of cloud computing, SCADA systems have increasingly adopted Internet of things technology to significantly reduce infrastructure costs and increase ease of maintenance and integration. As a result, SCADA systems can now report state in near real-time and use the horizontal scale available in cloud environments to implement more complex control algorithms than are practically feasible to implement on traditional programmable logic controllers.
SCADA receives data from each and every pipeline, and all data collected from the oilfield is stored in one place. This provides access to all data, at any time, in real time.
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