What does SCADA stand for?
S upervisory C ontrol A nd D ata A quisition, or simply supervisory, is a software system whose purpose is to control and supervise industrial systems by acquiring system data and sending commands to the system.
This type of system became very well known to the lay community in 2010, after it was reported in newspapers that Iranian uranium enrichment systems had been invaded by a computer virus, known as Stuxnet, which will be the subject of another article.
SCADA systems have been used in the world since the 1960s
Use of the SCADA system
As mentioned in the first paragraph, the purpose of a supervision system is to monitor and control and for that, these systems have two basic modules: one for development and another for executing the application.
SCADA systems are widely used to control industrial processes and activities, as well as generating, transmitting, distributing electricity, monitoring data centers, controlling machines, equipment and buildings.
SCADA System features
SCADA systems are normally subdivided into two large modules with very different characteristics and functionality.
The first is the development mode, composed of one or more sub modules, and the second is the execution mode or runtime, which, as the name says, has the function of executing the developed system.
In general, the development modules of all SCADA software have a graphical interface, with the objective of creating objects with or without animations for the representation of the process whose objective is to monitor.
At this point, it is important to emphasize that systems development software has evolved a lot in recent years and, today, presents tools that reduce the need to resort to programming. Currently, only extremely advanced SCADA applications use custom programming.
To achieve the objective of monitoring and controlling industrial systems, SCADA software must have the ability to communicate with equipment. For this purpose, the applications provide communication modules, which are supplied with a large number of drivers, so that the exchange of information with equipment from the most diverse manufacturers is allowed.
It must be realized that efficient data communication is the key point of this type of system. It is in this way that we can carry out commands to drive electric motors, pneumatic and hydraulic systems, among others. It is also in this way that we can view the measured values through sensors.
A point of attention, however, is the fact that the supervisory does not carry out any type of decision making that allows automatic control. This is not prohibited, however, it is not recommended, since SCADA software generally runs on operating systems, which are quite susceptible to failure.
This type of control is usually carried out via PLCs and DCSs, which will be the subject of other articles.
SCADA systems also have tools to track the activities performed by users of the system, as well as to display diagnostics of equipment failures or stages of the production process.
For this, the information received by the supervisor is stored in a database, so that they are available for later consultation.
This information is used to generate alarms indicating failures or malfunctions of the system, in addition to events, to indicate any event relevant to the operation of the system.
The possibility of visualizing the sequence in which the events occurred in the system is an important tool to diagnose the root cause of problems in an industrial plant.
In addition, as the information is received in real time, it is possible to check how it behaves graphically over time, which allows an analysis of the information trends and to predict the future behavior of the system, or even identify points of failure that have occurred. in the past.
Some systems also have statistical analysis tools, which allow the implementation of several failure indicators that provide the application of the theory of continuous production improvement, through the reduction of failure times and between failures.
All information available and stored by the SCADA system can also be used to generate reports. Many applications have functions for creating customized reports, where it is possible to create a web page, or a text file that contains relevant information about the production in a defined interval of time.
SCADA systems currently on the market
Currently, the major manufacturers of automation equipment have one or more SCADA systems, some that cater to all types of industrial segments, and others that cater to specific segments of the industry.
Some of these systems stand out due to their ease of use or development, while others offer specific tools, which are widely used in a specific industry segment.
Other systems still have limited functionality, but have a lower acquisition and implementation cost, which makes them attractive when you don’t have large investment budgets.
Our objective here will be to list the main software used by the market, as a reference, without however making a characterization as to what is better or worse.
So, check below the main software for the development of SCADA systems in the world, and who are their manufacturers:
InTouch HMI – Schneider Electric
Wonderware System Platform – Schneider Electric
SIMATIC WinCC – Siemens
Factory Talk – Rockwell
RSView32 – Rockwell
Cimplicity – General Electric
iFIX – General Electric
Experion – Honeywell
Elipse SCADA – Elipse Software
Elipse E3 – Elipse Software
Vijeo Citect – Schneider Electric
PowerSCADA – Schneider Electric
Sage – CEPEL