by Jeff England
Data is changing the way we live and operate, and the changes are especially evident in industrial processes such as energy production and utilities. Industrial leaders need better, faster delivery of data to enable better decision-making and dynamic, responsive operations.
As a result, industrial organizations are demanding more from their Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. Fortunately, modern systems are up to the task.
Industrial operators have come to expect SCADA solutions to perform set, core functions, including:
- Data acquisition — Collecting information from equipment and monitors across the process
- Data conversion — Translating that information to a common, consumable format
- Data communication — Delivering the information to a central data warehouse
- Data presentation and control — Serving up the information to users for analysis and action
Today, however, industrial operators need to go beyond the basics of getting alerts over Ethernet through a human-machine interface (HMI) on the shop floor. They need information that shows not just what has happened, but allows them to predict what will happen in a process. They need to be able to see information not after the fact, but in real time. They must respond and take action not just when they are in the facility, but when they are in the field, three states away.
Enhancing SCADA for modern requirements
Industrial process operators and leaders who are working with a legacy system may not realize the advantages they can get from a modernized, updated solution.
- Need to monitor equipment in the field as well as in your facility? Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and IPv6, every part of your process can have its own IP address for delivering data.
- Need to deal with the influx of huge amounts of new data? No worries. Cloud-based solutions take advantage of the ability to scale so they can deal with big data.
- Are you worried about not just collecting data, but actually using it? Today’s business intelligence solutions deliver more than static reports, serving up real-time information with predictive, responsive analytics that allow operators to make immediate, informed decisions and take proactive action.
- Have your users gone mobile? Not a problem. HMIs aren’t just monitors on the shop floor anymore; today, data can be delivered to the desktop in your upstairs board room, the tablet or smartphone in your field tech’s hand — or even directly to a smart helmet that provides a heads-up display.
Of course, all this sounds wonderful until you realize a “rip and replace” of your old SCADA system isn’t in the budget in the near future.
That’s why it’s important to work with experienced automation experts who have a deep understanding of your industry. Knowledgeable and creative system designers can work with the system you have now and help you prioritize and implement upgrades over time.
It’s time to move toward the future; but your move can be a journey instead of a giant leap.