SCADA – the modern monitoring system

By virtue of the increasing amount of automated systems, the importance of monitoring and controlling these complex systems rises, too. Obviously, the automated systems should be operated with minimum staff deployment. Therefore, it is necessary to offer tools to the operators for controlling the processes. “SCADA” is typically mentioned in this context, which integrates computer systems for exactly these monitoring- and controlling- tasks and relieves the operators. The definition of SCADA is given below, explaining, where it is used, and how it works.

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SCADA – real time data collection per computer system

The acronym SCADA stands for “Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition”. A SCADA system is responsible for recording, analyzing, and evaluating real time data. These systems are able to control machines with hundreds of thousands I/O-ports, which transfers information to a monitoring center in real time to inform the affected station about error situations. In addition, depending on the sensor equipment, a rating of the error situation is possible as well, which shows an overview of how crucial the error for the safety and the operation of the system is.

How the intelligent monitoring system works

For enabling data collection or monitoring of processes in industrial facilities, control units like valves, switches or motors can be controlled on the one hand, and on the other hand be electronically adjusted. In addition various sensor systems go into action which detect current switch positions, speeds of rotation, pressures or speeds and transmit them to the SCADA system. For controlling the process simultaneously, the valves, switches and motors are electronically controllable. Thus, the system is able to react autonomously to the critical situations or to give error messages to an operator. This allows to counteract to the critical situation directly on the computer or to implement a manual bug fixing.

Application fields of SCADA systems

Typically, these systems are used in power stations to monitor and to record the process of the energy production. In error cases, a report is additionally sent to the relevant operator. SCADA systems achieve a rising relevance, because the number of automated tasks still increases and therefore permanent monitoring is needed.

As a present example of a SCADA system, the automation of a mobile excavator can be named. In this project, the Generic Control Box of the Robot Makers GmbH is used on the one hand for the approach of the power output stage for the movement of the hydraulic cylinders, on the other hand it is used to recognize the position information of the several joints, analyzing them and in case of doubt, e.g. at the leaving of determined sectors, doing an emergency stop.

Conclusion

In the age of the automation, SCADA systems are indispensable for monitoring and controlling industrial facilities. This has to do with the increasingly complicated and automated processes, who need a permanent monitoring and controlling. For keeping the personnel deployment for this task area low, monitoring systems, which merge the data on a central place, process it and in error cases, engage regulating, must be implemented. All this is supported by a modern SCADA system. Furthermore, through the use of constant data acquisition it is possible to detect and transform optimization potential in the process.

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