What is SCADA?

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Software Explained

SCADA: The Acronym and its Role

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, otherwise known under the acronym SCADA, is a system comprised of software and hardware used to control and monitor a process or application. Typical applications for SCADA include: 

  • Monitoring and controlling an industrial process 
  • Collecting, processing and analysing real-time data 
  • Interacting with hardware such as drives, motors, valves, actuators and pumps 
  • Collecting, storing an analysing historical process data (data historian) 

Specifically, a SCADA system collects data from microcomputers such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) and displays the information collected to the user through a Human Machine Interface (HMI). 
A typical example of where SCADA would be beneficial, would be in the situation where there may be an issue with a process, the SCADA system would notify the operator through a HMI, who would be able to determine the root cause of the issue, this intelligence allows organisations to react to issues and resolve them, resulting in less down time and improved efficiency.

Who is SCADA for?
SCADA is widely used by industrial organisations, and plays a key role in monitoring their industrial processes. Typically, just about any type of organisation that has a requirement to monitor and control a process, improve efficiency and reduce downtime, can use the technology. SCADA systems are widely popular due to their scalable nature, and range from basic local onsite installations to complex multi-site systems.

The History of SCADA: Past, Present and Future

Origins of SCADA 

SCADA was born in the 1960’s, as a more efficient alternative to relying on personnel to manually control equipment, via switchboards, buttons and levers. As industrial processes and sites began to increase in size and complexity, a more efficient and automated system to control and monitor was required. 
In the beginning, data was collected and monitored via mainframe computers, although more efficient than manual processes, these were expensive and slow. This paved the way for data logging technology; Data Historians were introduced to store vast amounts of data captured by the SCADA system. The popularity of SCADA increased, and during the 1970’s, Microcomputers and Microprocessors were introduced, increasing organisations capacity to control and monitor automated industrial process even further.

SCADA in Industry 4.0

Today we now have much more advanced SCADA systems, featuring next generation graphical user interfaces (GUI’S), bulk configuration tools and intelligent dashboards, giving users more control with less deployment time and cost. 

What is SCADA

Commercial Benefits of a SCADA System

Modern day SCADA systems go way beyond their origins of minor improvements in efficiency, and automating processes, to reduce manual labour. A modern system is now a strategic investment, a must have not only for competitive advantage, but for staying competitive all together. Below are just a handful of commercial benefits associated with a SCADA software implementation. 

  • Proactive issue detection and resolution, resulting in less downtime and more productivity 
  • Fully configurable to exact requirements, without the need for hard coding (often referred to as scripting)
  • Comprehensive analysis of real-time and historic trends and data 
  • Proactive/predictive maintenance replaces reactive methodology 
  • Visibility of complete costs involved with processes including energy usage 
  • Reduction in energy usage and/or carbon footprint

UK SCADA Case Studies

E.ON Case Study

E.ON embarked on a project with ICONICS, delivered by Cougar Automation Ltd (a certified Gold partner of ICONICS), to allow E.ON to visualise and control its regional Energy Centres in one front-end, 64-bit solution from its brand new central control room in the heart of London.

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United Biscuits Case Study

ICONICS engineers worked alongside McVitie’s technical staff using ICONICS HMI/SCADA software to develop a system that executes the rules and makes the control adjustments within the ovens automatically.

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Manx Electricity Authority Case Study

The Manx Electricity Authority (MEA) in the United Kingdom is responsible for ensuring full commercial potential of the UK-IOM (Isle of Man) subsea power cable. Implementing ICONICS HMI/SCADA software solutions drastically enhanced the plant manageability.

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