Machine and Process Management

Investing in SCADA for a bright industrial future

SCADA pic 1As the information management world evolves, the use of real-time information to power functionally-rich business applications is driving greater value for industrial companies. Specifically, this translates to the ability to run efficient operations – from more profitability, greater reliability and safety of manufacturing operations, to greater efficiency and uptime of capital assets.

And as the industrial world yet again faces revolution, the SCADA we know today continues to serve as a platform for collecting data and exchanging information with the control layer of a business. It also becomes a gateway to reach up through the application stack of an enterprise into the execution and operations layers of a business, and approaching the ERP. Likewise, interfacing with applications including enterprise-class historian, workflow, condition-based monitoring and asset management facilitates holistic operations management and “decision-support” applications, which are among some of the most talked about subjects in the changing industrial landscape.

Significant investments are made by industrial businesses not only in their technology, but more importantly in the capital assets and operation of their facilities. Making the most of those investments by maintaining and improving technologies that enable better management of processes is the best way to prepare for the industrial future.

Investment in technology is key

Building and maintaining a SCADA system is expensive. Rebuilding a SCADA system is expensive. Investing in the future of your SCADA is about building on your existing system to extend your operational value. It’s about linking together operating assets, people and processes to improve competitive advantage. Investing in a strong software portfolio coupled with a strategy to develop a unified framework of function-rich business applications which deliver optimized business processes specific to your particular business is key.

While each market segment can, and does, have different needs, overall the idea is to unify “islands of automation” for the next generation of operations management systems. This will provide operational improvements via enterprise wide visibility and standardization, which is a common way of viewing operational data for consistency of quality, processes and KPIs. It is one “version of the truth” which provides better business agility and increased competitiveness overall.

Your SCADA system’s role in this equation is to drive:

 

  • Improved engineering efficiency – reduce the engineering cost and complexity required to build and maintain a system
  • Enhanced lifecycle management – reduce upgrade and maintenance costs
  • Operational empowerment – increase operational efficiency from more powerful information and simplified useability
  • Extended operational value – expand the management of your operations beyond traditional supervisory control to achieve and sustain operational excellence and business agility

Don’t forget people power

Another topic that’s as important as technology investment is people investment. We are on the cusp of an operational transformation that is strongly driven by a major generational transition – Generation Y, and an aging workforce – and a cultural change – rising middle classes and a demand for workers in fast moving economies. These trends have a huge impact on technology and, particularly on the development of operations management software like SCADA. This topic in itself warrants much closer examination which I will address in my next blog.

Together Schneider Electric and Invensys are changing the game for industrial software…click here to find out more.


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