SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, which in German means the monitoring and control of technical processes with the help of computer systems. It is a very important sub-area that is playing an increasingly important role in connection with terms such as Industry 4.0. Automatically running processes within production lines or in other areas are forwarded to both centralized and decentralized systems, and this is for the purpose of monitoring, visualization as well as control and regulation of these production processes with the help of more or less remote computers.
For example, the SCADA systems very often communicate with the aid of modern Internet transmission technologies, in the local area also using older connection technologies that have been tried and tested for a long time, such as point-to-point communication paths.
What tasks do SCADA solutions have today?
The basics for the monitoring and control of technical processes within manufacturing as well as in other industrial areas are nowadays automated systems divided into several layers. The first layer (often also referred to as level 1) is the so-called process-related layer, while a further layer of process monitoring is used to optimize level 1 automation. Further levels are used to plan work processes as well as quality assurance and the necessary documentation. A very important function of SCADA is also to pass on the data usually generated in Level 1 to the system and to display them in a user-friendly way for monitoring purposes so that control can be intervened in the process if necessary. Such systems have the following tasks today:
Monitoring and control of production tasks and manufacturing processes
Management of various processes
Collecting and managing relevant data on manufacturing processes
Networking and automation of machines
use modern control systems
Integrate manufacturing processes in industrial cloud computing environments
Differences to human-machine interfaces (HMI)
A human-machine interface can definitely be part of a SCADA system. In fact, there are some similarities between the two systems. Both systems describe parts of what is known as Industrial Control Systems, or ICS for short, a very general description of automation using modern control systems. The HMI describes a relatively simple way to enable communication or interaction between humans and machines. Systems like SCADA go one step further in that some components can be controlled directly or communication with you is possible. It is networked automation of machines since such a system can be connected to all components of an industrial control or a connection with several components is possible. This is usually not the case with a human-machine interface.
What SCADA stands for (among other things)
If necessary, a SCADA system can be connected to different devices, machines or equipment. This connection can take place via various communication systems such as 2G, 3G, 4G or CDMA and other GSM technologies as well as some other network technologies. The control systems offer the possibility of communication that can be established at any time if necessary. This can of course not only be ensured via mobile communication channels but also via conventional Ethernet networks such as LAN or WAN. The counterparts to the control systems for industrial applications are intelligent technologies.
Security plays an essential role in SCADA
If public communication channels such as cellular networks are used for various areas of industrial production plants as well as in other sensitive areas, security is an essential factor in the implementation of such systems, which unfortunately is often still neglected. There have actually been attacks on isolated SCADA systems in the recent past. This shows how important security has become in various areas of Industry 4.0 and in the associated technologies. Security is already a very important topic in the field of Industry 4.0. For example, it is very important to keep the systems up-to-date with regard to security technologies and to apply necessary security updates at regular intervals.