What’s SCADA?

June 1, 2018

Those in the industrial data world know that SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) is a key architecture that helps operators run a complex facility smoothly while optimizing operating and maintenance costs. Here’s a video that breaks it down into its simplest form.

SCADA enables centralized control and monitoring of a complex industrial process. It has been around for decades and has applications for electricity and water utilities, oil and gas pipelines, and municipal services like traffic lights. SCADA uses programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or remote terminal units (RTUs), hardware that communicate with equipment and sensors in the field, then pass that data to a centralized computing platform. Alerts and notifications are often basic functions of the software on the other end, helping operators make sense of the data and act on it if necessary.

But that’s the “old SCADA” model. SCADA in the 2020s is going to journey further down the road of advanced analytics and predictive maintenance. The exponential growth of in-the-field sensors and better data access platforms translates to a corresponding explosion in the amount of data (and computing power needed to deal with it) that can be used to make real-time adjustments in industrial processes will also skyrocket. Let’s call this the “new SCADA.”

New SCADA connects with the IIOT world to bring additional insights especially through analysis of historical weather and performance data. This might include financial forecasting on future project sites, benchmarking and other reporting tools that were never part of the original SCADA architecture.