Welcome to Part One of this Three Part series on how to monitor, manage, and control your facilities with SCADA. You'll learn how to stay on time and on budget to achieve increased profitability.
SCADA is not a specific technology, but a type of function. SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition - any device that gets data about a system in order to control that system is a SCADA application.
A SCADA application has two elements:
1. The process/system/machine you want to monitor and control - this can be a power plant, a water system, a network, a system of traffic lights, or anything else.
2. A network of intelligent devices - interfaces with the first system through sensors and control outputs. 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. This white paper will help you evaluate your options and decide what kind of SCADA system 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 - systems 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 a wide variety of applications. Electric power generation, transmission and distribution is one such industry. Electric utilities use SCADA systems to detect current flow and line voltage, to monitor the operation of circuit breakers, and 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 trolley buses; 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. SCADA 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 devices in a large complex system? 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 enough questions like that, and I'm sure you can see where you can apply a SCADA system 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; detect and correct problems as soon as they begin; 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 critical point in your managed process (and as 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 - and most important, it's all 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 profitability.
A SCADA 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 - and most important, it's all 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. With SCADA, you can do more, at less cost, providing a direct increase in profitability.
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, taught by technicians who have installed hundreds of successful monitoring and control deployments.
There is no other network on the planet that is exactly like yours. For that reason, you need to build a monitoring system that's the right fit for you.
"Buying more than you need" and "buying less than you need" are real risks. You also have to think about training, tech support, and upgrade availability.
Send me a quick online message about what you're trying to accomplish. I'll work with you to build a custom PDF application diagram that's a perfect fit for your network.
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