A few words about SCADA

Published: 17th August 2011
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SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Acquisition System. It refers to a system of collecting and presenting data. SCADA is a system that collects data from various sources and locations. The collected data is then sent to a central computer when it is managed and controlled. SCADA can be centralized or spread widely. Managing small systems with SCADA is very affordable. For larger systems, there has to be a mix and match of suitable systems for the achievement of the effective outcomes.

SCADA & Different Industries

It is through the SCADA system that industries like water management systems, traffic signals, manage carry out the management solutions. It is used for the processes such as refining, fabrication, manufacturing, generating power etc. From small applications such as climate control to advanced applications such as nuclear power plant, SCADA is an extremely useful source.

SCADA works efficiently as it has subsystem like HMI and PLC (programmable logic controller). The display can be numeric, tabular, and/or contain pictures and figures as well. The control is achieved by operated commands or may even be automatic. As a system it contains HMI (Human-Machine Interface), which is a software performing data control. It is through the HMI that the data is accessible to a human operator who commands its control. The presentation is usually in the form of a schematic diagram.

The very important component is the Remote Terminal Unit (RTU) performs the core functions of the system. Usually, the operator can intervene. But a little intervention is required as initially specifications are defined. Acquisition of data starts at the RTU and PLC and involves meter readings and sensors. It is then processed in the Data Management System for the required auditing. SCADA is a very efficient monitoring system. It is made up of "point”, with each point acting as a monitor. The whole system is controlled and monitored in real time, and this is the most distinguishing feature of real time.

SCADA and its Development

SCADA is developed through a series of generations: Monolithic, Distributed, and Networked. The first generation is the monolithic where mainframe computers were used for the computation. In the second generation, Distributive, the processes were carried out across several stations sharing information through LAN connections. In the third generation, which is called Networked, where the architecture follows an open system using open protocols. With this current way of operating SCADA, it is much easier to connect to peripheral devices. Connects across stations are made through WAN instead of LAN connections. Without the need of coming up with an intensive program, SCADA is easy to operate and configure.

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