Hardware for SCADA
A few hardware components are definitely necessary for a successful SCADA deployment. Some of them, such as PLCs, are not considered part of the SCADA system itself, but they now operate in tandem with the SCADA software to maximise system performance. Let’s go through how these parts operate together.
- Remote Terminal Unit (RTU)
A Remote Terminal Unit is a critical component of the system. Multiple RTUs are deployed throughout the facility to collect data (in both analogue and digital forms) from the assets through sensors. They send this information to the master SCADA system through the network. If any action is required, the master station may send actionable data back to the RTU, which will then instruct the actuators, such as switches, pumps, and relief valves, to take the necessary action.
Initially, RTUs could not be programmed at all. They may now carry out operations using fundamental boolean logic. Their operating capabilities have recently expanded much further.
- Logic Controller (Programmable) (PLC)
PLCs operate in the same manner as RTUs. A PLC collects data from machines using sensors and transmits it via a network. Data from remotely situated assets may therefore be transmitted across great distances. If it gets any further instructions based on the recorded outputs, it can also make changes to its settings.
These gadgets can also be programmed. With correct programming, you may instruct the PLC to perform a certain function. In the event of a malfunction or problem, the PLC will adhere to the pre-defined logic or rules and take appropriate action, such as raising an alert to signal that human assistance may be necessary.
Because of these characteristics, PLCs are frequently referred to as “intelligent” machines. They are thought to be far more sophisticated than RTUs.
- Human-Machine Interface (HMI)
This is when the human factor enters the picture. The HMI serves as a platform – a screen – for humans to see SCADA data collected from numerous PLCs and RTUs in a centralised place in an organised way or format. If any modifications are required, they can use the HMI to execute the necessary instructions or programmes. As a result, they can also modify the PLC’s settings.
Based on the data received from the PLC, you may also generate statistics, reports, and even graphs.
The most recent advances have even made it possible to access data gathered by the centralised master station from anywhere in the globe using web clients.
However, these improvements have also resulted in increased security threats. While a result, companies must endeavour to maintain security standards as technology advances.
As previously said, the SCADA system is really simply a piece of software put on top of the hardware/machinery.
The HMI component of the SCADA system has already been covered. Aside from the programming required to run the PLCs, Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software may be added on top of the SCADA software to analyse and better utilise the acquired data.
In the event that the central system gets any warning signals, the CMMS assists in the generation of Corrective Maintenance (CM) work orders. A CM work order is simply a document that specifies the problem, the activities that must be completed to repair the problem, and the resources that will be necessary to execute the tasks.
The software bundle also includes troubleshooting instructions and other relevant documentation.
SCADA stations are largely reliant on communication between RTUs and PLCs as well as the centralised mainframe. There may be several types of channels via which the components communicate.
Essentially, all PLCs and RTUs in modern systems are part of a bigger system. With the advancement of common communication protocols, even components purchased from various suppliers may now communicate with one another.
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