What is SCADA? How is it Used in Industrial Automation?

Industrial automation is considered to be the next phase of the industrial revolution. With more and more businesses adopting automation techniques, industrial automation has swept across all sectors. It refers to the technology and systems aimed at reducing and possibly eliminating human intervention in various industrial processes. The processes include sensing, monitoring, supervision, etc. Through industrial automation, it is possible to reduce human error and ensure optimal functioning. An essential tool of industrial automation is the SCADA system.

What are SCADA Systems?

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)  or SCADA systems are extensive automated systems with both hardware and software constituents, performing comprehensive supervisory control. Their primary purpose is to record and analyse real-time data. They can function remotely as well as locally. They are popularly used in industries like oil and gas, power and energy, food and beverages, automotive and chemicals, among others. 

What are the Functions of SCADA Systems?

A SCADA system has many functions, which can be broadly classified under the following heads: 

1.Data Recording

The central feature of a SCADA system is to gather instantaneous data about the functioning of various industrial equipment on the factory floor. This is done via sensors and other devices installed in the main operational area, for example, proximity sensors, pressure sensors, energy controls, etc. Through this, information regarding different parameters and processes is obtained. SCADA systems also offer cloud storage for past records. 

2.Data Conversion 

Data recorded via field sensors is collected and converted from analogue to digital signals. This is done by instruments like remote terminal units ( abbreviated as RTUs ) and programmable logic control (abbreviated as PLC).  Remote terminal units are essentially collection points for all the data recorded by sensors. Programmable logic controllers are a kind of industrial computer responsible for overseeing and decoding the workings of different machines via PLC software.  

3.Data Communication

In this stage, data is relayed, either routinely or on-demand, to a central source. This is achieved through a human-machine interface or HMI. HMIs are essentially a network between machines and the operator. HMIs are devices on which real-time data is presented and to provide operational insight. HMIs gather data from PLCs and related control level systems like RTUs. They then convert complex variables into understandable information that is ultimately presented to the users. They are in the form of devices like screens, buttons, keyboards, touch screen tablets etc.

4.Operation Control

The final function of SCADA systems is to exercise operation control. Once all the data is presented to the operator through HMIs, appropriate commands are conveyed, in accordance with which SCADA systems take control actions. 

Industrial automation technology is a necessity in today’s world. It is a way to use all the available technology in order to ensure optimal functioning and efficiency. Although it is a heavy investment, industrial automation significantly decreases the business expense in the long run. The SCADA system has proved to be a valuable tool in any industrial setting. It helps reduce human error and can be programmed in any way to guarantee maximum productivity and effortless automation. Schneider Electric is among the top companies producing premium SCADA systems, using sophisticated and advanced technology. To know more, visit the #SchneiderElectricIndia website today!