The Benefits of Modernizing SCADA Systems in Manufacturing

Applied Tech Review | Thursday, May 05, 2022

Engineers should re-evaluate their supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to see how capable more current systems are of assisting enterprises in achieving their Industry 4.0 goals.

FREMONT, CA: Most supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems date back decades. Years were undoubtedly spent installing and mastering the system, and many more years were probably spent implementing the necessary modifications and upgrades. However, enterprises recognize that their legacy SCADA systems are becoming inefficient, troublesome, and difficult to maintain and manage. They deserve modern, intelligent software systems capable of supporting diverse requirements on-premise, at the edge, and in the cloud. SCADA has evolved significantly in recent years, and now is an excellent opportunity for engineers to re-evaluate current systems.

SCADA systems from a previous era were conceived and built for a different world. They were just not intended or architected for the issues that end-users experience today. Additionally, many existing SCADA systems are challenging to configure, maintain, and support and have inherent limitations such as their inability to address both intentional and unintentional security breaches; to effectively manage outbound communication from the operational technology (OT) world to the information technology (IT) world; to support the innovations provided by cloud technology in terms of data storage and cloud-based applications, and to be easy to use.

Modern SCADA systems are now available and offer numerous benefits to manufacturers. Consider the following some points when manufacturers re-evaluate the original SCADA system.

Modern SCADA systems offer a plethora of benefits

Modern SCADA systems adhere to industry standards, notably data architecture and information modeling, ensuring interoperability across numerous vendors and device independence. Most crucially, when devices from various suppliers support the same device standards, they can be swapped. New systems have a longer life expectancy because they incorporate hardware and software devices capable of gathering real-time data for performance and maintenance analysis.

Since today's SCADA systems also capture more data intelligence, system maintenance is significantly improved. Additionally, these new systems let end-users make best-of-breed selections rather than being locked into old proprietary systems, permitting remote operations and monitoring.

Modern SCADA systems supply the fundamentals of the Internet of Things (IoT)

Modern SCADA systems include the following IoT fundamentals:

Compatibility: These systems link to existing controls and support standards such as OPC UA and emerging technologies like cloud computing, virtualization, mobile computing, and sophisticated analytics.

Security: These systems include role- and user-based security, multi-factor authentication (MFA), operating system security, cyber security, and patch management.

Foundational technologies: These systems include software upgrades and patch support, a regular release schedule, compatibility with current and future operating systems, and enough support for previous operating systems. Numerous SCADA systems are now available in 64-bit form.

Advanced functionality: These systems include expanded user, administration, audit trail, vertical market, and integration capabilities with business, engineering, supply chain, CPM/MES, plant equipment, and automation systems.

Company stability: These systems operate on a local and global scale and are meant to support suppliers' long-term market visions. Integrators and end-users benefit from these systems' scalability, extensibility, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. When system integrators can install and support a system economically, when their efforts in one application can be reused in another, and when they can train operators to handle day-to-day administration and upkeep, they have discovered a high-quality, reliable solution that benefits both them and end-users.

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