What is Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)?


Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a system of software and hardware elements that allows industrial organizations to:

  1. Control industrial processes locally or at remote locations
  2. Monitor, gather, and process real-time data
  3. Directly interact with devices such as sensors, valves, pumps, motors, and more through human-machine interface (HMI) software.
  4. Record events into a log file.

SCADA systems are crucial for industrial organizations since they help to maintain efficiency, process data for smarter decisions, and communicate system issues to help mitigate downtime.

The basic Supervisory control and data acquisition architecture begins with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or remote Terminal units (RTUs). PLCs and RTUs are microcomputers that communicate with an array of objects such as factory machines, HMIs, sensors, and end devices, and then route the information from those objects to computers with SCADA software.

The SCADA software processes, distributes, and displays the data, helping operators and other employees analyze the data and make important decisions.

For example, the SCADA system quickly notifies an operator that a batch of product is showing a high incidence of errors. The operator pauses the operation and views the SCADA system data via an HMI to determine the cause of the issue.

The operator reviews the data and discovers that Machine 4 was malfunctioning. The SCADA system’s ability to notify the operator of an issue helps him to resolve it and prevent further loss of product.

Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)

How SCADA Systems Work?

Supervisory control and data acquisition stands for supervisory control and data acquisition. It is a type of software application program for process control.  SCADA is a central control system which consist of controllers network interfaces, input/output, communication equipments and software. SCADA systems are used to monitor and control the equipments in the industrial process which include manufacturing, production, development and fabrication.

The infrastructural processes include gas and oil distribution, electrical power, water distribution.  Public utilities include bus traffic system, airport.  The SCADA system takes the reading of the meters and checks the status of sensors in regular interval so that it requires minimal interference of human.

A large number of processes occur in large industrial establishment. Every process you need to monitor is very complex because each machine gives different output. The SCADA system used to gather the data from sensors and instruments located at remote area.

The computer then processes this data and presents in a timely manner. The SCADA system gathers the information (like leak on a pipeline occurred) and transfer the information back to the system while giving the alerts that leakage has occurred and displays the information in a logical and organized fashion. The SCADA system used to run on DOS and UNIX operating systems.

Who Uses Supervisory control and data acquisition?

Supervisory control and data acquisition systems are used by industrial organizations and companies in the public and private sectors to control and maintain efficiency, distribute data for smarter decisions, and communicate system issues to help mitigate downtime. Systems work well in many different types of enterprises because they can range from simple configurations to large, complex installations. Supervisory control and data acquisition systems are the backbone of many modern industries, including:

  • Energy
  • Food and beverage
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and gas
  • Power
  • Recycling
  • Transportation
  • Water and waste water plant


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