Industrial applications have typically used some combination of SCADA, PLC, DCS and historians to monitor and control asset operations. In the process, companies have accumulated years’ worth of data which if mined and analysed correctly can deliver strong improvement to operations.
SCADA Systems have been the staple solution for many years. However, SCADA alone is not enough to deliver comprehensive performance reporting and provide wide visibility of data and processes across one’s asset. Typically, analytic tools like SCADA or Historian Systems were limited to trends & processing and computing basic statistics. PLC technology was a companion to SCADA over the past few decades, however, has been outdated due to technological advancement.
So why have we moved to Internet of Things (IoT)?
Forward-thinking asset operators are adopting Asset Performance Management tools to proactively optimize their SCADA systems and broader infrastructure to achieve more resilient and sustainable operations. Taking data to the next level using Asset Performance Management doesn’t necessarily require collecting more information, however, it requires capturing the required data which is then used to mitigate risk, costly failures or unplanned shutdowns.
The Industrial IoT (IIoT) penetrated the market and evolved as a more suitable technology compared to the traditional SCADA and PLC. Don’t get me wrong, SCADA systems still have a very important part to play, however, it is limited as we cannot have a complete connected ecosystem that the entire business can benefit from. IIoT is implemented on top of SCADA. Data generated from SCADA systems act as a data source for the IIoT that helps analyze the granular machine data to improve productivity whereas SCADA used to focus on monitoring and controlling.
Going one step further, Predictive Analytics using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) is used to review vast amounts of stored data generated patterns that can be used as a signature to detect anomalies in real-time, perform root cause analysis and predict an outcome. These analytics can then be used to trigger an automatic notification process that can alert a likely failure is about to occur. This will allow managers, engineers and analyst to decide whether to run the asset to failure or organize a preventative maintenance and intervene.
IIoT has played a noteworthy role in enhancing the functions of remote monitoring. While most companies have already implemented SCADA systems for this purpose, IIoT has gradually replaced its functions.
4 main differences between a SCADA and IIoT systems are:
SCADA Systems: Devices not made by the same manufacturer cannot easily integrate. At times, even different versions from the same manufacturer present challenges. Also, SCADA Systems typically work in silos.
IIoT: Ecosystems still remain fragmented but there are protocols such as MQTT which enable platforms to communicate across devices regardless of vendor.
SCADA Systems: Storing extra data typically require new servers. Also, additional software licensing or features are required for new services.
IIoT: Connected via cloud services removing the need for hardware and software costs.
SCADA Systems: Mainly used for day-to-day operations and storage of a finite amount of data without looking at the historical data for deeper analytics.
IIoT: Long-term data capture/storage to review the data to predict maintenance schedules, reduce overall downtime and extending equipment life using Machine Learning as an enabler.
SCADA Systems: When the number of users increases typically the performance drops off due to the traditional architecture. Also, it takes longer to run reports from assets that are in different countries and regions from the central command center.
IIoT: can gather and process large volumes of data from sensors and can connect to anything of relevance using protocols like MQTT, HTTPS, XMPP, COAP, REST etc. which is powered by on-demand scalability due to a serverless architecture.
SCADA Systems: Mostly use OPC for data gathering, which has been successful in doing so, however, its major disadvantage is the reliance on DCOM technology and devices cannot collect/exchange data with each other.
IIoT: Standardizes sensor networks and collects data. IoT standards such as OPC UA are being used to define real-time secure communication within an asset that has different control devices and sensors from different vendors. Security is embedded into IoT standards with support for MQTT, HTTPS, RAML etc.
If you think your business should cut down the time involved with troubleshooting, maintenance costs and increasing performance, please reach out for a chat. We will happily guide you through the options and what’s best for your business.