SCADA: Manufacturing Control & Data

For manufacturers with several independently-running machines, we recommend integrating a SCADA system to centralize machine controls and data collection. But what is SCADA software? Do the benefits truly outweigh the cost to integrate? How can a SCADA-based system help your business?

A Brief Overview

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) software provides manufacturers with a centralized control system made of computers, networked data communicators and graphical user interfaces. As the name would suggest, a SCADA system does two things: it controls the manufacturing system, and it acquires machine and manufacturing data for every individual machine connected to the system.

Providing System Control

Manufacturing facilities across industries often utilize HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces), managing and controlling machines individually rather than collectively. Implementing a SCADA system allows operators to control the entire system from one location. It’s possible to have several HMIs as part of a SCADA system, but you can have a SCADA system with no HMIs as well.

The SCADA system acts as a central hub for everything on the plant floor. With Ignition’s SCADA platform, you can connect to all different types of PLCs. It allows you to see and manage your entire system from one place, but that “one place” can be from absolutely anywhere. It’s accessible from any internet browser on an unlimited number of browsers from any workstation, laptop, or mobile device.

All access points connect to the same application, ensuring that every person connecting is receiving the most up-to-date information about production, the machines, and more. All the person needs is access to the plant’s network, whether through an on-site connection or connection to a VPN, and the direct link to the system’s web address. Whether your staff is on-site or working from home, they’ll have access to the information they need.

Data Acquisition

In addition to allowing operators to control the various machines in a facility from one central location, a SCADA system collects several types of data from connected machinery.

Performance Metrics

Every manufacturing company has target goals, whether it’s component outputs, the daily throughput rate, PPM or any number of other metrics. A SCADA system can help you determine the best way to achieve your target metrics, measuring machine components, analyzing throughput rates and highlighting paths to achieve your metric goals.

Alarms and Notifications

Manufacturing comes with a myriad of potential issues: System malfunctions, a line running too slow, a jammed piece of machinery, a system software crash, a machine running too hot or cold to function properly, etc. A SCADA system can connect to all of your machines, detecting and notifying you when they’re beginning to fall outside of their range of normal operations before problems arise.

Real-Time Traceability

A standard level of deviation is expected in manufacturing. When errors fall outside this normal range, the answers to several questions are helpful: Where have the parts been? Where are the parts now? Who was involved in each aspect of the part’s production? Having a comprehensive SCADA system allows you to access all of this information and more for every machine in your plant connected to the platform, completely customized to your unique manufacturing needs.

Predictive Maintenance Information

Your SCADA system can notify you of approaching machine maintenance, whether it’s replacing, repairing, resetting or adjusting the machine’s many components. Especially if parts have long lead times, taking preventive action before machine failure occurs can save both time and money. The fact that it’s connected to all of your machines ensures you’ll never miss important maintenance.

Maintenance Information Management

In addition to providing predictive maintenance information, your system can collect information on the maintenance work that has to be done, as well as aid in scheduling that work and tracking it over time. We call this capability CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) Lite. This helps you prioritize upcoming machine maintenance based on costs, part lead times, etc. to help you allocate resources and time with maximum efficiency.

Benefits of Ignition’s SCADA Platform

Hyperion Automation specializes in implementing SCADA systems using Ignition’s platform. Companies choosing to implement this system can benefit greatly from Ignition’s large, passionate, vibrant support community. Their developers focus on constant improvement of the platform to improve the user experience, developing innovative ways to tackle new requirements and challenges.

Simplified Database Integration

The data that their system produces and collects can be easily connected to other databases that your company uses. While this Ignition isn’t the only platform capable of this, it’s not common for many other SCADA systems to allow such easy integration with existing systems.

Whether you need database integration for historian purposes (machinery temperature over time, speed of machinery over time, etc.), storing component and product recipes, or batch ticketing, Ignition’s platform makes the integration process incredibly simple.

Server vs. Tag Licensing

Unlike the majority of SCADA platforms, Ignition is licensed by the server, not by tags. Most licenses require continued investments over time as the requirements of your system changes, forcing you to purchase additional tags to accommodate these new requirements. With Ignition you have unlimited tags to develop and adapt your system as your company’s needs grow and change.

Getting a SCADA System Set Up

There are two main ways we set up a SCADA system: on premises or in the cloud. The addition of a SCADA system on premises involves the installation of a physical box, or server, somewhere in the building that the system controls. If you choose a cloud-based SCADA system, instead of having a physical server box in your facility, your system will live on a server farm as part of a data center. 

In both situations, the program is accessed through a direct link to the application, making it simple to access without installing a program on your systems’ harddrives. Once set up, the SCADA interface can be accessed from anywhere, not just inside the building, as long as the accessing device is connected to the home network. This can be done either by connecting to your facility’s network inside the building or off-site via VPN, which we recommend for additional security.

In Summary

If you still aren’t sure if a SCADA system is right for you, let us reassure you that this type of control system works across nearly all industries from pharmaceutical and automotive manufacturing to wastewater management and more. Implementing a SCADA system will allow you to access the controls and data for all of your plant’s connected machinery and technology through one customized, simple-to-use platform. By going with an Ignition platform, you can easily integrate your new platform into the existing platforms and databases you currently use, increasing accessibility throughout your organization.

Ready to learn more? Need some additional questions answered? Give us a shout!