How will Internet of Things impact the sustainaibility of the SCADA systems? What is the impact of the Industrial Internet of things on the economic growth of the traditional SCADA automation market? The crux of the convergence of these two burning technologies lies in the way they improve upon every function performed by SCADA through the collection and analyses of the data.

IoT’s roots in the Industrial control and factory automation industry stretch back to the early 90s when the use of SCADA allowed centralized monitoring and control of generation and transmission systems spread across different regions of the world. In the recent years SCADA has evolved beyond the individual process control as IIoT continues to take a bigger role in order to bring unified control to the entire physical infrastructure of different processes thus giving birth to real time data visualization and machine to machine communication.

Conservative Industrial market meets fast paced IT sector

A typical SCADA system composes of sensors and actuators controlled by a central master unit providing a user-interface through a human-machine interface.
Considering that IIoT allows access to data and application support from virtually any device, at any point of time and from any part of the world, factory operators and managers can check on specific machines, schedules, inventories, etc. at any time, in full detail, no matter where they are.

In the late 90s, manufacturers used open message structures like Modbus ASCII and Modbus RTU (both developed by Modicon).Within 10 years many makers started offering fully open interfacing like Modbus TCP instead of the IP and Ethernet.Talking about the present trends SCADA is in sync with the standard networking technologies. The old proprietary standards are being replaced by the TCP/IP and Ethernet protocols.

Developments like enabling of predictive analytics to provide real time data in order to drive visibility and control over the industrial control systems,in the IIoT environment are expected to be adopted in the SCADA systems market at a larger scale, over the next few years. Embracing it on a bigger scale makes way for driving down costs and increasing competiveness, improving connectivity, efficiency, scalability and time savings. Many companies have started to implement it by leveraging intelligent and connected devices in their factories.

One of the examples where the automation suppliers are in the process of equipping machine automation systems with IoT capabilities include predicting an impending bearing failure days or weeks in advance. As the interest in the IoT field gains momentum manufacturers are looking to build upon their IoT initiative by converging various different technologies.

Talking about the convergence of virtual and physical world through cyber physical systems, the new and improved business processes have paved way for a smarter version of factories, which have high chances for achieving a 100% OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness).One of the major deciding factors in the manufacturing environment. This metric measures the efficiency and utilization of the manufacturing operation in comparison to its full capacity. An average OEE runs at 60-70%,whereas with the convergence of IIoT it shoots up to approximately 85-90%.Thus this helps in decreasing the occurrences of non-value adding tasks like machine changeovers,stoppages,maintainence and production of faulty products.In case of SCADA systems it corelates to the process of ‘Continous monitoring’ which helps in prevention of costly downtime of a high value plant (unpanned outtages).It provids timely information about critical parameters like Vibration,Oil temperature,Oil viscosity and Water content in oil.

Various end user industries like Electric Power,Oil and Gas, Water and Waste water,Food and Beverage industries are pushing to modernize systems and equipment to meet new regulations in order to keep up with increasing market speed and volatility and to deal with disruptive technologies like IIoT itself.

Sustainability and Energy Management remain one of the major driving forces for the SCADA software and services, with benefits including the capability to tie all the operations together and reduce the fixed costs. Energy is viewed as the cost of goods sold for each product produced, thus maximizing profitability.One such example of the capabilities enabling SCADA software to provide collaborative intelligence solutions is the formation of the IIoT solutions marketing cooperation agreement between Hilscher North America, an industrial networking technology supplier and  Cirrus Link Solutions, a middleware vendor along with Inductive Automation,a SCADA supplier offering its ignition SCADA system to assimilate the data provided by the middleware vendor and present it anywhere in the enterprise or on mobile devices, leading to enhancement of the modular SCADA capability.
The implications of low oil price, retiring workforce, aging infrastructure, compliance pressure and new business needs will continue to be one of the other major driving factors for this industry.

IIoT which is a superset of Intelligent field devices, digital field networks, Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled connectivity and web services provides real time monitoring of the plant running data. Sensors which form an integral part of a SCADA system help in predictive maintenance and regulation of the water flow along with tracking of reservoir levels and pipe pressure resulting in quicker response times, remote diagnostics aiding the user to review the data from any connected device like an i-pad.

As per the Frost and Sullivan analysis, one of the key restraining factors during the widespread adoption of IoT technologies is the drastic modification of the RTU layer of a SCADA system. The new systems will significantly reduce the share of hardware revenue by the SCADA system suppliers however the demand for application software will grow.

One of the costliest and the most time consuming elements of manufacting industry has been the maintainence of the shop floor machines, which without IIoT’s convergence, calls in for an error prone functioning.It gives the manufacturers and electrical companies a key tool in overcoming the  maintainence issues more easily by spotting the warning signs early.This provides a way more efficient platform to perform maintainence in a smarter way.

With the proliferation of new technologies, connected devices have resulted in a parallel explosion of security vulnerabilities.The sensitive information along with the infrastructure assets is subjected to increased cybersecurity risks. In 2010, a domain specific worm ‘Stuxnet’ was identified for the first time. It is a computer worm that targets industrial software and equipment such as SCADA systems by faking industrial process control sensor signals. Various advanced authentication techniques including Biometrics are being incorporated on the layered network to prevent such malicious attacks. Data ownership, data privacy and choice are some of the relevant consumer issues amidst growing awareness of invasions to privacy through direct harvesting of information by applications and service providers.

Some of the remarkable features of the converged technologies are:

  • Security is an extremely important factor in Scada systems because of its usage in sensitive tasks and is provided through specialized protocols, proprietary interfaces and a closed network
  • Integration of Scada systems onto the cloud has resolved various supervisory and control access issues. Localized decisions for supervisory control of machines such as turning a valve off or alerting a leak can now be taken with the help of Smart Edge devices without any human interference.
  • Implementation of various deep learning and machine learning algorithms might enable the scada systems to take decisions by identifying patterns. Popular applications like automation and predictive maintenance are already using some of these feature. Predictive maintenance completely eliminates the possibility of unexpected machine breakdown which greatly reduces maintenance cost.
  • Subscription based cloud models give the option to pay for what you use, which in-turn eliminates the high maintenance cost of supervisory system hardware.
  • Live Data Cloud Networking of the dynamic IP address enables us to turn the server PC into a live data source. This lets us host historical and live data on our own local hardware and avoid data loss in case of
  • Network failure.

Sensing and monitoring is one of the major segments amongst all the emerging smart technologies.Technolological advances with the help of cloud based connecting devices have created opportunities for innovation, collaboration and growth in smart services sector as well.

The industrial based IIoT is rising in prominence as the cloud based SCADA systems play a pivotal role in harvesting the IIoT information from various automation devices.In times to come,these systems will utilize the capabilities of today’s powerful Internet applications with flexibility to access any historical database from any part of the world.

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