What is a SCADA system?

SCADA (Supervisory, Control and Data Acquisition) systems are a set of software applications designed for the remote supervision, control and optimisation of industrial processes, being able to integrate data collected from different industrial processes and automatons (PLCs) locally.

The application of SCADA systems in industry is to monitor and control production processes and the full operability of plants in real time. They can be accessed through digital communication with different field devices (autonomous controllers, programmable automatons, etc.) and, using a graphic interface (touch screens, cursors, computers, etc.), the operator can control the process automatically, react to alarms and change the configuration.

The assets and processes managed are monitored in real time, providing a comprehensive overview of the general status of the company and enabling decisions to be made early based on data.

Furthermore, SCADA systems enable reports to be run in real time in order to gain a view, not just of what happens at each moment, but also of what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future with predictive capacity,

The future of industry 4.0, or smart industries, requires the digitalisation and interconnection of its processes through the use of technologies such as: Cloud monitoring, Big Data and data analysis, Machine Learning,  IoT, cybersecurity, Augmented Reality…

Only in this way will industries be able to optimise their processes and resources, focussing the means and a great effort on tasks that require human intelligence.

SCADA Systems v IoT systems

Sometimes the terms SCADA and IoT systems are used, are they the same thing? What is the difference?

As we mentioned earlier, a SCADA system is a control system of the supervision and acquisition of data from local industrial processes, while an IoT system presents a complete evolution in connectivity and methods of communication.  Traditionally, the data gathered from industrial sensors is moved from the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) to SCADA systems for analysis, with a large number of intermediate layers. But with the cloud, IIoT is changing this process and has reduced the number of layers from the data capture to the operational intelligence layer.

Below, we list the differences between SCADA Systems and IoT (Internet of Things) Systems:

  • They have different Hardware and Software.
  • IoT has a decentralised idea of the elements, while SCADA are centralised systems.
  • SCADA systems are cheaper since developments and standards already exist. IoT systems, however, require a bespoke development.
  • Industrial SCADA provide accuracy and truthfulness when transmitting data digitally and in real time.
  • IoT enables the data to be accessed from anywhere. Although many SCADA systems are also accessible from the Internet, there are still limitations in factories.
  • IoT systems are incorporated in a company’s IT area, to be used with other tools: CRM, MES and ERP’s.
  • IoT can be combined with other technologies, such as Machine Learning and Augmented Reality.
  • IoT systems are less secure. They require software, encryptions, keys and tokens, etc.

In spite of these differences, in recent years, evolved SCADA systems and IIOT platforms have appeared which are capable of integrating data from different sources of information and installations accessed from anywhere and any device in real time, enabling the centralised control of various distributed components such as the integrated operations platform from Nexus Integra.

Structure and components of a SCADA software

When we talk about SCADA software, we are referring to the tools, modules or blocks which enable the activities of acquisition, supervision and control:

  1. Configuration: enables the work environment of the application to be defined according to the availability of graphical or text screens needed (generating them in the SCADA itself or importing them from another application) and the logins for the different users.The communication drivers to link with the field elements and type of connection are also selected. In addition, the variables that will be displayed, processed of controlled are indicated.
  1. Graphical user interface:The process that will be supervised is represented by synoptic graphics stored on the computer and generated from the editor incorporated in the SCADA or imported from another application during the configuration of the package.
  2. Process module:On each screen, relationships can be programmed which are executed constantly while it is active. The programming is carried out by programming blocks in high level language (C, Basic, etc.).
  3. Management and filing of data: plant data can be selected to be captured at regular intervals and stored as a historic activity log, or to be processed immediately by a software application for statistical presentations, quality analysis or maintenance.

Once the data is processed, it is displayed in analogue graphs, histograms, three-dimensional representation, etc. enabling the global evolution of the process to be analysed.

Nexus Integra and its SMART SCADA application

Nexus Integra is the open and standard integration platform of industrial systems which creates a global environment of operations and monitoring for the management of industrial assets.

What does the Nexus Integra platform allow?

  • The management and control of the data generated. Furthermore, it standardises and unifies the data, displaying it intuitively, so that companies can use it easily.
  • The information comes from a wide range of assets, so it enables simple communication in one language and the use of this data, regardless of the source in the Smart SCADA application.
  • It acquires data from any sources of data and information
  • It unifies and structures data from unstructured data sources
  • It enables remote management and action to be taken directly with assets of any plant of the business globally.
  • It enables the user to know, in real time, the status of the assets and review the history of them to make valuable decisions.
  • It enables the design of SCADAS and summaries through drag and drop without the need for programming.
  • It enables full autonomy for the customisation of SCADAS, CdM and reports.
  • It enables advanced algorithms and Machine Learning to be applied in the production process.
  • It enables interaction with external applications and the exchange of information to be able to use it in any of the native applications.

Are you looking for a solution to acquire data and supervise and control your business processes? Nexus Integra is the IoT and Big data platform that will enable you to get the most out of your industrial activities.