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Acronyms Are Hard: SCADA

By November 16, 2017 July 23rd, 2019 No Comments

Acronyms Are Hard: SCADA

Have you ever wondered if someone is writing gibberish in an email? Have you needed Google Translate to make it through a presentation? Acronyms can be hard. If you’ve missed the first in the series, check out PLC and HMI, and let us know what you want to see in the future.

On this edition of Acronyms Are Hard, we’ll talk about SCADA. The Google tells us that this stands for, “Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.” Our good friends at Inductive Automation are first up on the search rankings with their “What is SCADA?” Post *Golf Clap*

Our friends at Siemens have an Aston Martin Case Study, which really bodes the question, why didn’t they call us for that one? It would sit well next to all the other supercars we can’t tell you about.

So what does it mean?

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty. You’ve got your PLC’s and HMI’s on a machine, and that works pretty well for the operator. In fact, when they haven’t decided to change anything on the fly, it works just as you had hoped. Now you want to do something similar for the entire line. Provide that information for the Production Supervisor, Plant Engineering, Facilities Maintenance, and the Plant Manager. Even Ownership and Upper Management want to see it to compare plants.

How can you make that happen?

Sending them 40 different HMI screens isn’t going to cut it; they’re going to get bogged down in excess information. Then they’re going to come back at you upset and cause even more work. All they need to know is how their niche is doing.

That’s where a SCADA (and Corso) Shine…

 By simplifying this process significantly. You’ve got all the information from the PLC’s and HMI’s and need to start determining what each of the different levels require. The operators already have their areas on the HMI. Each line will need the information about all of the machines (and more). The key here is to distill down the information.

Distilling the Information

In any facility, each area needs to know different information to properly do their jobs. The Production Supervisor need to know what’s in inventory, what PO’s are up next, and potentially the top 10 or 20 products that need to be finished that shift. Plant Maintenance needs the health of each of the machines, if something is going wrong, and what can be done to get a down machine up and running as quickly as possible.  Project Managers need to know if the settings on machines suddenly change and production slows. The further up the food chain, the less detailed information needs to be and the more important the distillation needs to become. The Plant Manager might just want a green dot on each of the lines to indicate everything is going well.

This distillation is as much an art as it is a science. Once the different areas see how the SCADA benefits them, everyone will want to be a part of it. At the end of the day, this is as much about making people’s jobs easier as it is anything else.

Is that it?

In a word: NO.

Now that we can measure each of the different attributes, we can start talking about Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and what we can do to get better. Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Now that you can measure the performance of the lines, you can start taking a look at your KPI’s to figure out how you can get better.

A great example of this is displaying the through-put of the lines and machines so that all of the operators can see it, which could result in a net increase of 30% or more. You could then also observe individual operators and machines, measure basic downtime, and get a general sense of overall efficiency.

Generally speaking, a good SCADA will allow you to start making well informed business decisions and become a better, more efficient company. A great SCADA is truly the first step in getting a grasp of what your facility is doing.


If you want to look at additional ways to become more efficient, check out the Manufacturing Execution System (MES) section and stay tuned for more Acronyms Are Hard.