SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. SCADA systems are commonly used in high tech industries to gather information about processes and what is happening on a shop floor level. The information gathered from the SCADA systems is passed to process monitoring software, which identifies potential issues, faults, and productivity problems.
The process monitoring systems can then be used to find bottlenecks and improve productivity. They can also be used as an early warning system to identify breakages before they occur, saving time, money, and lost productivity.
Available SCADA tools include temperature sensors, humidity sensors, weight and flow monitors, and pressure sensors. There are also more specialist tools for high-tech industries, and even tools that are used for traffic control and monitoring. Any industry with complex workflows or equipment can benefit from detailed information gathering.
If you have a small or medium sized business, you may be wondering if process monitoring is suitable for you. If you have any form of high-tech equipment, then you may benefit from some form of process monitoring. You may not want a fully fledged control and data acquisition system, but it’s always a good idea to make sure that your computer hardware is operating correctly, and that nothing is going to overheat or keel over. For bigger plants, a more complex and detailed set of monitoring equipment will be needed in order to ensure that the information being gathered is as accurate as possible.
At its simplest, you can use these monitoring tools as an early warning system. Ideally, however, the data that you gather will have value even when things are not going wrong. If you spot that a computer is constantly under high load, or that one of your plant’s systems is always operating at 90% capacity, while the rest of your systems are not even at half load, then you could use that data to optimize your productivity. Perhaps you could get more work done if you upgraded the bottlenecked systems. Or, perhaps you know that you need to reduce demand on that system for a short time to make sure it doesn’t suffer unnecessary wear and tear.
SCADA equipment may seem expensive at first glance, but the potential benefits offered by process monitoring make it a good investment. If you have mission-critical equipment, then it makes sense to ensure that you know what is going on with that equipment at all times, and that’s what SCADA provides. Of course, you should still perform manual inspections, and have a solid back-up plan, but anything that you can do to help your engineers stay on top of developing issues is worth investigating.
When you know the source of potential problems, and are alerted to problems as they arise (or even before they actually become an issue), that puts you in a position to respond promptly and effectively. The initial outlay for process monitoring software and hardware is something that will quickly pay off in increased productivity, peace of mind, and security.