Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA)

What Is SCADA?

SCADA also known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition is any application where data is collected from a system in order to control that system. Automated monitoring and control is another phrase commonly related to this topic. SCADA systems are used in every industry in public infrastructure projects because they increase efficiency, which also reduces cost. SCADA generally refers to industrial control systems: computer systems that monitor and control industrial, infrastructure, or facility-based processes.

This clip explains the history and origins of SCADA:

Common industries that use SCADA:
-Electric Utilities (Power plants use SCADA to manage current flow, line voltage, monitor circuit breakers & cut sections of the power grids on & off. )
-Buildings & Facilities (Used to control HVAC, refrigeration units, lighting, & building access systems.)
-Mass Transmit (Used to regulate electricity to subways, trains, and trolley buses. SCADA are also used heavily in railroad infrastructures.)
-Water & Sewage (SCADA is used to monitor water flow levels & pipe pressure)

Functions of SCADA systems:
1) Data Acquisition (includes meter readings and equipment status reports that are communicated to SCADA as required. Data is then compiled and formatted in such a way that a control room operator using the HMI can make supervisory decisions to adjust or override controls)
2) Data Commnication (infrastructure connecting the supervisory system to the Remote Terminal Units (RTUs). These RTUs connect to sensors in the process, converting sensor signals to digital data and sending digital data to the supervisory system.)
3) Data Presentation (A Human-Machine Interface or HMI is the apparatus which presents process data to a human operator, and through this, the human operator monitors and controls the process.)
4) Control ( This is action performed after data analysis.)

  • Increase data flow and efficiency
  • Reduces costs
  • Improves productivity and ROI

  • Not secure from interference
  • Vulnerable to attack due to security and privacy
  • Human errors (this happens at the control function)

This clip shows the growing demand for SCADA technicians:

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