What is a SCADA System, and How Does It Work?

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We are frequently asked, “What is a SCADA system, and how does it function?” SCADA stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. It is a kind of control system used to gather information from industrial machines. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of SCADA systems, how they operate, and how you can start using them.

What is a SCADA system?

SCADA System that is a mix of software and hardware that allows automating processes in the industrial sector through collecting operational Technology (OT) real-time data. SCADA connects sensors used to control equipment such as motors, valves, and pumps to an on-site or remote server.

A SCADA system allows organizations to:

  • Control processes can be performed locally or in remote locations.
  • Access, analyze, and present real-time data.
  • Directly connect to industrial equipment, including sensors or valves, pumps, and motors.
  • Archive and record events for later reports or reference.

SCADA system hardware

Hardware like Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) serve as local collection points for sensor data acquisition.

The hardware used in the modern SCADA system is often triggered by the actions of the equipment connected to it through programmed logic. In the case of SCADA technology, information from sensors is collected by a computer, commonly called “a gateway”.

Different edge workloads make use of computers in a variety of ways.

  • Gateways pass the data from PLCs onto servers or up to the edge.


  • Edge computers are near the source of data and serve as an gateway. However, they’ll begin processing the information before transfer into the cloud or a central physical server.

    It will allow faster decision-making at the local level in addition to saving bandwidth and money.


  • Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs) provide an interactive touchscreen for local control and machine monitoring. They also serve as gateways or even edge computers.


  • The server is the central control of the locally-based SCADA system. The Local historian servers (historical data recording over time) could be located in this.

    Depending on the technology used, it might also send data back to the cloud or an even larger server in the enterprise network.

Once data is collected, sensors can be used to make decisions directly using SCADA software and saved for future analysis. SCADA systems can be utilized to monitor and control processes from the exact place where operations are being performed and from a distant location.

What is the process behind the SCADA function?

One of the most significant benefits of SCADA is its ability to control and monitor systems at your workplace from various locations, even remote locations.

Based on what configuration the SCADA controller uses, the current status of production processes may be observed from an operator’s station that overlooks factories, an HMI situated directly next to machines, or from the house of employees.

It is also possible to modify and control the SCADA setting without reacting directly to every incident. Utilizing logic-based rules, the operators can determine the execution of specific actions when sensors detect abnormalities.

For instance, what happens if the bit rotates on a plywood cutting machine, shaking excessively? The SCADA software can shut down the machine as soon as it stops and prevent further injury to the materials or the operators.

Facilities usually opt for an alternative to automation and direct control by creating rules that alert the operator to an abnormality in the operation. The operator can then make an intelligent decision about the best next steps.

Who is using SCADA?

With real-time information about the condition of assets and operations, SCADA helps business owners and operators make better decisions increase efficiency, and cut down on downtime. Many industries use SCADA, including manufacturing plants, oil and gas operations, and public utilities.

Examples of a SCADA system

Smart City

From the treatment of wastewater and electricity grid management, smart cities increasingly rely on SCADA control systems to monitor and improve everything from traffic signal patterns to public electricity consumption.

If a city can detect increases in resource use, for example, public transit or electricity usage and power consumption, they can respond faster.

If repeated trends are identified, cities can maximize their resources over the long run. For instance, specific temperatures and humidity levels can directly relate to residents who turn on their cooling or heating systems.

City managers can plan the grid to boost electric production and transfer when the conditions change.

On a broader scale, the rising amount of electric vehicles being charged will likely impact the urban electric grids. SCADA systems are a way to monitor and adapt to the changing needs for power like this.

Smart Manufacturing

Modern factories collect data from sensors on machinery to help predict maintenance needs, monitor output speeds, and improve operator safety. For instance, an item could become less efficient after the end of its maintenance process.




If you have the help of SCADA software, for example, it will be able to detect this pattern and alter the maintenance schedule to avoid the production bottleneck. Without a SCADA device, it will be challenging to identify the patterns by hand.

A good illustration of a SCADA system that makes use of Ignition through Inductive Automation

How do you install a SCADA solution?

To set up a SCADA option, we recommend that you follow these steps:

  • It is essential to define and comprehend the criteria you intend to track clearly.
  • Decide what information you currently keep and in what way.
  • Begin by picking a collection of facts and a specific place to conduct the Proof of Concept (POC)
  • Know the architecture that is required to meet your requirements.
  • Create gateways to connect the current data collection points
  • Create new data collection points if desired
  • centralize your data to the location for monitoring
  • Map data can be found in the SCADA software of your choice
  • Include visualizations of data as well as controls
  • Create rules for automation and define the definition of rules

SCADA software will then allow you to interact with your facilities, inform you the problems, notify you of the maintenance team of upcoming issues, and offer control over a couple or hundreds of piece of machinery.

It might not seem easy initially; however, the objectives are easy. Begin by connecting the items you wish to be monitored.

Then you are able to choose where you’d like to manage and monitor the devices.

Integrated SCADA software

With the sheer volume of data generated in modern industrial plants, the chance to improve efficiency is never greater. The idea of collecting and analyzing data isn’t something new. However, modern SCADA solutions provide excellent insights and capabilities before unobtainable.

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