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Welcome to the introduction on how to monitor, manage, and control your facilities with SCADA architecture. You'll learn how to stay on time and on budget to achieve increased profits. This article will serve as an easy SCADA tutorial for beginners.
SCADA is not a specific technology, but a type of supervisory system. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), is any device that gets data about a system in order to control that system and process data.
A SCADA application has two elements:
1. The process/system/machine you want to monitor and control. This can be a large scale power plant, a water system, communication infrastructures, a network, oil and gas industries, an automated system, a system of traffic lights, or anything else.
2. A network of intelligent devices. Interfaces with the first system through sensors, control outputs, and communications protocols. This network, which is the SCADA system, gives you the ability to measure and control specific elements of the first system.
You can build a SCADA system using several different kinds of technologies and protocols. We will help you evaluate your options and decide what kind of SCADA design is best for your needs.
You can use SCADA to manage any kind of equipment. Typically, systems are used to automate complex industrial processes where human control is impractical. Where there are more control factors, and more fast-moving control factors than human beings can comfortably manage.
Around the world, these kinds of systems find use in a wide variety of applications. Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution is an example.
Electric utilities use SCADA systems to detect current flow and line voltage and to monitor the operation of circuit breakers. Also to take sections of the power grid online or offline. Another is the water and sewage industry.
State and municipal water utilities use SCADA to monitor and regulate water flow, reservoir levels, pipe pressure and other factors. Buildings, facilities, and environments where specific temperature and humidity considerations are important is another application.
Facility managers use SCADA to control HVAC, refrigeration units, lighting and entry systems. The manufacturing industry uses SCADA systems to manage parts inventories for just-in-time manufacturing, regulate industrial automation and robots, and monitor process and quality control.
Mass Transit authorities use SCADA to regulate electricity to subways, trams, and trolleybuses; to automate traffic signals for rail systems; to track and locate trains and buses, and to control railroad crossing gates. And even your local city traffic department utilizes SCADA to regulate traffic lights, control traffic flow and detect out-of-order signals.
As I'm sure you can imagine, this very short list barely hints at all the potential applications for SCADA systems. It is used in nearly every industry and public infrastructure project - anywhere where automation increases efficiency.
What's more, these examples don't show how deep and complex SCADA data can be. In every industry, managers need to control multiple factors and the interactions between those factors. SCADA systems provide the sensing capabilities and the computational power to track everything that's relevant to your operations.
Maybe you work in one of the fields I listed; maybe you don't. But think about your operations and all the parameters that affect your bottom-line results.
Does your equipment need an uninterrupted power supply and/or a controlled temperature and humidity environment? Do you need to know - in real-time - the status of many different components and field devices in a large complex system, such as alarm points? How about the need to measure how changing inputs affect the output of your operations?
What equipment do you need to control, in real-time, from a distance? Where are you lacking accurate, real-time data about key processes that affect your operations? These are questions that proper monitoring and visibility can help answer. The bottom line value depends on the proper application of the right solution to these questions.
Ask yourself as many questions as you can. In time, you'll see where a SCADA system implementation can be applied in your operations. But I'm equally sure you're asking "So what?" What you really want to know is what kind of real-world results you can expect if you do.
Properly planned systems allow you to access quantitative measurements of important processes, both immediately and over time. They detect and correct problems as soon as they begin. Also, they measure trends over time, discover and eliminate bottlenecks and inefficiencies and control larger and more complex processes with a smaller, less specialized staff.
A properly planned SCADA system gives you the power to fine-tune your knowledge of your systems. You can place sensors and controls at every important point in your critical infrastructure (and as technology improves, you can put sensors in more and more remote locations). Remote terminal units (RTUs) and an HMI (human-machine interface) will be responsible for bringing all the information to you.
As you monitor more things, you have a more detailed view of your operations in real-time. So even for very complex manufacturing processes, large electrical plants, etc., you can have an eagle-eye view of every event while it's happening. And that means you have a knowledge base from which to correct errors and improve efficiency. You can do more, at less cost, providing a direct increase in profits.
A SCADA communication system gives you the power to fine-tune your knowledge of your systems. You can place sensors and controls at every critical point in your managed process (and as SCADA technology improves, you can put sensors in more and more places). As you monitor more things, you have a more detailed view of your operations in real-time.
So, even for very complex manufacturing processes, large electrical plants, etc., you can have an eagle-eye view of every event while it's happening. You'll have a knowledge base from which to correct errors and improve efficiency. With SCADA, you can do more, at less cost, providing a direct increase in profits.
One of the best ways to learn SCADA is with an in-depth, totally practical, hands-on class. The DPS Telecom Factory Training Event shows participants how to make alarm monitoring easier and more effective. They learn basic SCADA functionality, Derived Alarms and Controls, and how to configure automatic email and pager notifications.
DPS training is the easiest way to learn SCADA. It's taught by technicians who have installed hundreds of successful monitoring and control deployments.