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December 27, 2022

SCADA system and its importance in Industry 4.0

SCADA systems have been a breakthrough in industrial automation processes, allowing visualization of plant production processes, which translates into better decisions based on relevant information.

This is why they have become a fundamental factor in Industry 4.0 regarding monitoring and controlling industrial processes. We review their characteristics and examples of real applications and analyze why they are so important.

What is a SCADA System?

The word SCADA is an acronym that stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. As its name suggests, it is a control system for monitoring or collecting data considered essential in production automation processes.

Its origin lies in supervising processes in the gas, energy, or water sectors. Still, it has now been extended to other jobs such as oil refineries, nuclear power plants, food production, mass transportation, etc. They significantly improve decision-making by facilitating the exchange of information for business integration.

It starts by communicating directly with the controllers in real time, usually through a PLC or RPU, and then collects all the data obtained from the connectors. This data is transferred to the system itself and displayed graphically.

How does a SCADA system work?

A SCADA system comprises programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or remote terminal units (RTUs) that communicate with various instruments, such as manufacturing machinery, HMIs, sensors, or end devices.

They route information from these objects to computers running SCADA software, which processes, distributes, and displays the data, helping maintenance technicians analyze it and make critical decisions.

Why are SCADA systems important for a company?

As we have seen above, SCADA systems are used to control, monitor, and analyze various industrial processes. Therefore, one of their main advantages is that they allow workers to visualize, in real-time, what is happening in any particular industrial process, react to problems, change configurations or track information, among many other tasks.

They can also be used to create graphs and reports that show what has happened in the past or in real-time, helping to predict what may happen in the future.

But these are not the only advantages:

  • Remote industrial control.
  • Proactive maintenance.
  • Downtime reduction.
  • Interact directly with devices such as sensors, valves, motors, and HMI interface.
  • Create alarm panels on machine failures due to malfunctions.
  • Control the quality thanks to the collected data.
  • Sequentially record events occurring in a process in a file or database.
  • Optimize performance.

SCADA for power plants

With PLCs, SCADA software, and hardware in the generating stations, several operations can be supervised simultaneously, such as protection, monitoring, and control. It is possible to provide reliable power, minimize operating costs, and preserve capital investment by:

  • Continuous monitoring of the speed and frequency of electrical machines.
  • Operations planning.
  • Boiler and turbine protection and status at each plant.
  • Monitoring of renewable energy parks and load utilization planning.
  • Historical data processing of all parameters.
  • Active and reactive power control.

For energy transmission systems

Circuit model parameters are often wrong without a SCADA system, leading to increased costs or incorrect billing. These failures can also affect condition estimator analysis, contingency analysis, or machine stability calculations. This is why it is so important to have this system that helps to:

  • Service restoration.
  • Voltage regulation management.
  • Real-time modeling.
  • Real-time display interface.
  • Automatic system diagnostics through the use of controller alarms.

In food and beverage production

Maintaining the right temperature is crucial when manufacturing and processing food.

Therefore, SCADA systems are used to monitor and control that they are within the facility’s acceptable range.

Public transportation and traffic

Mobility authorities can use these protocols to regulate electricity in remote locations. They can also be used to automate traffic signals, track and locate trains or buses, and control railroad crossing gates.

In addition, it can regulate traffic lights, control traffic flow, and detect out-of-service signals.

Water and sewerage

It allows for monitoring and regulating state and municipal water flow, reservoir levels, pipeline pressure, wastewater treatment, collection facilities, etc.

Development of SCADA system

The SCADA system can be implemented on a large scale in energy systems to increase their performance, reliability, and durability. For this reason, ACCIONA, one of the largest global energy operators and a leader in the development, engineering, construction, and maintenance of renewable assets, has trusted us to develop a scalable and secure system to manage all the information they generate.

SCADA systems offer a complete and integrated view of all the control and information means of a plant, allowing the optimization of processes and resources. If you want to find out how it can help you improve your business, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Elena Canorea
Elena Canorea
Communications Lead