Top 10 Problems Addressed by SCADA

Top 10 Problems Addressed by SCADA

Steven Garbrecht - Chief Digital Architect
Steven Garbrecht - Chief Digital Architect

SCADA systems have been around for many years helping to provide supervisory control for the factory environment. Recently, I was talking with some of our system integrator partners to get their feedback regarding the top reasons people put SCADA systems in to help manage their operations. These are the top 10 we came up with:

1) Scale Operations - Providing coordination and visibility to all aspects of the plant. There is only so much you can do with clipboards and Excel-based systems. The scripting power and alarm and event detection provided by SCADA provide a better management environment.

2) Traceability - Linking raw materials to finished lots for recalls and quality problems. Regulations require this capability in industries such as food and beverage and pharmaceuticals.

3) Batch Reporting and Logging - To provide a record of all the things that went into your products. Batch analysis also provides the ability to record what a golden batch looks like to measure all of your operations against that perfect product run.

4) Regulatory Reports - Providing a record of carbon emissions or wastewater discharges for state and federal organizations. You can also use this visibility to reduce waste.

5) Utility Management - If you can visualize your energy usage within the four walls of the plant you can save 10% on your energy just by knowing what to turn off and when. Then you can save another 15% by automating the process.

6) Plant Tours - It’s always nice to show off how well you’re running your operation for tour groups and a SCADA system is a great way to give an overview to them of what’s going on in the plant. Many organizations create screens just for this purpose for the novice to understand what’s going on in the plant.

7) Quality Control - Most SCADA systems include historical archiving which allows you to compare quality parameters over time and once you feel good about how your process is working, providing supervisory control over the process ensures consistency for operators. KPIs are also provided through SCADA screens for plant personnel to be able to understand the health of the plant.

8) Continuous Operations - By putting in automatic controls and remote monitoring capabilities you don’t need to have operations staff at the plant 24 hours a day to run continuously. Operations personnel can be on standby at home or remotely to help remediate any issues.

9) Recipe Control - A library of recipes can be maintained in the SCADA system and download to programmable logic controllers for execution. This provides for consistency across operations. The SCADA system can also be the mechanism to receive product orders from ERP systems and convert them into the detail recipe to be produced across multiple process units.

10) Multiple Product Control - SCADA programming can coordinate operations that make more than a single product through a specific line, allowing faster changeovers and new product introduction. This gives the agility needed to remain competitive in the marketplace where customers demand new products and flavors every day.

These are some of the top reasons why people put in SCADA systems today to control their plant. This technology is very flexible and can solve many problems that standard off-the-shelf applications cannot. The next time you think about solving an operations problem, think of SCADA as part of the solution.