Home Edge Computing What is “SCADA”? – A monitoring and control system that plays an important role in the manufacturing industry and infrastructure business

What is “SCADA”? – A monitoring and control system that plays an important role in the manufacturing industry and infrastructure business

SCADA, an important system in the manufacturing and infrastructure business, will be explained. What is SCADA and what makes it possible? Here are some examples of systems that incorporate SCADA and why they are considered essential for smarter factories.

What is SCADA

What is SCADA, which is already widely used overseas and is gradually being considered in Japan? Let’s take a look at its features and roles.

Monitoring control and data gain

SCADA is an acronym for ” Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition” and is pronounced “Skada”, translated directly into Japanese, “monitoring control and data acquisition”, and it is actually one of the monitoring control systems with the function as it is in this word.

SCADA accumulates and analyzes data while monitoring and controlling data sent from various devices and sensors. In addition to these features, alarms and security features may also be included. In addition, some data collected and accumulated is displayed is easy-to-understand graphics, enabling intuitive monitoring.

SCADA’s role

So what role does SCADA play in the entire embedded facility?

In a nutshell, it is the role of “visualizing the site and managing the entire facility”. While it may seem obvious and not a special feature, there has never been a system that can simultaneously visualize and manage the entire facility. There was a control system called DCS consisting of dedicated hardware, which is different from SCADA’s role because it was a distributed monitoring system divided by equipment.

In order to perform this role of data acquisition and management, all equipment must be connected so that it can communicate with the system. Therefore, SCADA typically establishes network and external communication between the devices it configures.

The importance of SCADA lies in “visualization through easy-to-understand display” and “collective management of the entire facility”. It has the role of aggregating data received from each device and delivering it to people.

This is in agreement with the role necessary for the smartening of factories, which have been advancing in the manufacturing field of each country in recent years. In smart factories and smart factories, it is ideal that all sensors and equipment are connected to the network, and the data obtained by them should be visualized and managed collectively. SCADA is a system that plays this very role, so if it is incorporated into a smart factory, it will have a very important role.

A system with SCADA built-in

SCADA is a data collection system with the primary purpose of analyzing and displaying the acquired data. It would not have the ability to control equipment. Therefore, in order to control based on the acquired data, it is necessary to use it in cooperation with another control device or system. For example, in the manufacturing and infrastructure businesses, a five-tiered model may be built:

Five layers working with SCADA

  • Operating equipment

It is the layer that directly performs the physical process and can be said to be the fingertip of the entire equipment. Includes equipment such as motors and pumps.

  • Sensor / control

This is the layer that performs sensing and control. In conventional control systems, control is performed here and it is monitored by the human eye. Devices such as sensors, PLCs (sequencers), and RTUs (remote terminal units) fall into this layer.

  • Monitoring and data collection

This layer monitors and collects data on the operation and control status of equipment. SCADA is located here.

  • Operation status management

This layer manages the operating status of production lines and equipment. It is a part that needs to be linked with production control, process control, raw material arrival, product shipment, etc. Includes MES (Manufacturing Execution System) and MOM (Manufacturing Operations Management).

  • Management plan

And the layer of this management plan is located at the top. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) corresponds to this part.

SCADA connects the middle between the field side and the management side
In this way, SCADA is located at the halfway point where information from equipment and sensors operated directly in the field is received and bridged to the layers that manage and execute it.

If you think of the entire facility as an organization like a company, it can be said that you are in charge of the front line of the field. SCADA acts like a field supervisor on a system.

SCADA and IIoT and Edge Computing

Given SCADA’s system for collecting data at the forefront of the field, it should be able to operate as an IoT (IIoT) software platform in the industrial field. In particular, there is a connection with edge computing.

What will change and evolve by connecting SCADA with edge computing?

Add speed to systems with SCADA embedded

Edge computing improves equipment response speed by processing data at the forefront of the field. Learn more about what edge computing can do. (Why edge computing is attracting attention: What’s the difference between cloud and on-premises| Stratus)
On the other hand, SCADA plays a role in extracting and processing data from devices and sensors. This means that you already have the ability to process the data on the edge side. Then, just by connecting SCADA to the cloud, SCADA can function as edge computing.
In this way, SCADA is a system that can gain its benefits and exert even more power by linking it with edge computing.

Take the Smart Factory One Step Ahead

Smart factories, can be said to be the next-generation manufacturing industry realized by the development of the cloud and IIoT (Industrial IoT, IoT for the industrial field).

In a typical smart factory, data is collected from sensors installed in various devices and sent to the cloud, which makes it possible to check the operating status from anywhere. This is one of the great advantages of smart factories. SCADA is a suitable system for collecting and controlling and monitoring that data.

However, as the number of smart factories that actually operate has increased, a certain issue has surfaced. It’s the speed of data processing. When it comes to sending and receiving huge amounts of data from any device to the cloud on a network and processing it, traffic issues arise.

When data is sent back and forth from the site to the cloud and from the cloud to the site, there is a time lag of hundreds of milliseconds to several seconds. This time lag is a challenge for smart factories.

At the cutting edge of the manufacturing industry, smart factories are often equipped with high-performance equipment to enable precise and high-speed operation. Despite the existence of such sophisticated equipment, if there is a time lag in data transmission/reception and processing, the performance of the equipment cannot be fully utilized. Even with a minute time lag, if it accumulates, it will cause waste due to a decrease in the cycle.

Edge computing is the solution to these challenges. Instead of sending and receiving all data to the cloud, it processes data in near real-time near the site, improving device performance. SCADA can also play a decentralized role by linking with edge computing while collecting data.

In this way, by operating a combination of IIoT, SCADA, and edge computing, smart factories can evolve to the next level.

Surveillance and Control System with Edge Elements – SCADA

I explained what kind of system SCADA is, and its functions and roles in IIoT. We also introduced the relationship between operational methods and edge computing.

SCADA, which appeared in the 1990s, has evolved in its system itself and is already widely used overseas. In addition, with the evolution of peripheral PLCs and RTUs, it continues to evolve functionally while further increasing its practicality. In addition to this, the importance of edge computing has come to be recognized, and SCADA has also received a lot of attention. SCADA, which is embedded in critical infrastructure businesses and large manufacturing plants, is expected to continue to evolve.

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