SCADA, HMI, PLC,SINACON, are all acronyms that belong to the world of industrial automation and system integration that we already treated in previous articles. More specifically, we saw what PLCs are and how they work, as we also saw what a SCADA is. But, exactly, what is a SCADA for?
A modern software for an updated hardware
Many companies, even after a revamping, keep on using the same old control panels, full of switches always unreadable tags, as well as using analogic monitoring systems. And how can these systems, although fully working, guarantee an accurate reading of the parameters set on the line and a constant supervision? Again, they could, but there’s always the risk to obtain inaccurate readings or that these monitoring systems break down. Such unexpected events don’t seem to be a very big deal, but any production manager worth its salt knows that a defective barometer or an inaccurate thermometer can cost the company a whole production day, if not worse.
Here’s when SCADA and HMI (Human-Machine-Interface) platforms come into play to monitor and supervise the plant conditions and production status, for it can control every aspect and element of the production line from a single control panel, on which set parameters, recipes and alarms can be visualised and programmed.
Supervisory, control and data acquisition systems can read every signal on the line with millesimal precision, from oven temperatures to the velocity of the production line.
The memory of your production line
A production line equipped with a SCADA can remember all the before mentioned data and parameters, grouping them under the so called “recipes”. This way the same product can be fully replicated every time, down to the last detail with a constant quality. Data and recipes are fundamental for the monitoring and supervision of the industrial processes but, more specifically, for your product traceability, a very sensible point for the always more demanding customers, that require their suppliers to guarantee every quality detail about their products.
Long story short: an industrial plant without a SCADA is like a car with no dashboard; you can always drive it, but you’d have to shift gear by ear and guess how much petrol you have left in the tank, not to mention how clueless you’d be about the engine or electric system’s status.