It’s Friday again, and we’re working on expanding our glossary of Automation terms to help new users decode a few of the mysteries of SCADA software and the automation industry. Data acquisition software is a tough industry to crack if you’re new to it, and the jargon can really present a roadblock.
SCADA companies tend to throw out a lot of acronyms, assuming that users are already familiar with them. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, as SCADA software users come from a variety of industries and backgrounds. Here are a few new SCADA terms.
SCADA Software – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software. Best to start with the basics, right? Simply put SCADA software and Data Acquisition software is used to gather information from the control system, and present it to the user. From there, the user can monitor a small or a vast process on location or remotely, and can even use wireless SCADA to receive alarms, trends, reports or to generate automated service requests. InduSoft Web Studio can alert a user in real-time if something goes wrong, and can supply the right documentation to repair or troubleshoot the problem. This kind of ease of use will reduce downtime of a system considerably. InduSoft is one of the most well known SCADA companies in terms of software compatibility, and technical support available.
HMI Software – Human Machine Interface software. HMI software is software designed to allow users to see a graphic interface that displays information from a machine, or a network of machines. HMI software is also used to monitor a process, and can often provide all the benefits of SCADA software on a machine by machine basis. Some HMI software runs on Windows based PCs; others are locked in to running only on proprietary hardware.
DB – Database. A database is really just a collection of information that is compiled together. In terms of computer technology, a database is often digital, and is stored in a Database Management System.
Data can be collected from just a few machines or processes or from a large number of machines or processes into a single database. Information, such as production counts, downtime and maintenance records can be transmitted wirelessly, eliminating the need to walk across the plant floor with a clipboard, only to waste time manually adding the information to a spreadsheet. Wireless SCADA programs like InduSoft can connect to and update databases in real-time. InduSoft has a patent pending on database connectivity.
SQL– Structured Query Language. SQL, pronounced S-Q-L, or “Sequel” is a programming language that is used to access a database.
MySQL, and Microsoft SQL are database management systems. Other popular databases include FoxPro, Sybase, SAP and Oracle. What makes InduSoft such an exceptional software package is the fact that IWS can access any database that utilizes SQL. InduSoft Web Studio can be used to format SQL queries directly to a SQL database.
OPC – Formerly OLE For Process Control, now just known as “OPC”
- OPC DA – Data Access
- OPC UA -Universal Access
- OPC Xi -Express Interface
OPC can be thought of as a bridge that links SCADA HMI software like InduSoft Web Studio to process control hardware like a PLC or DCS. While IWS does supply over 240 drivers that can access control hardware directly, some hardware may still require OPC for compatibility. OPC servers can communicate data to the SCADA software OPC Client.
IWS version 6.1 supports OPC DA (OPC Classic) (client and/or server), and the new version 7.0 will also support OPC Xi and OPC UA clients. OPC SCADA programs that also include drivers with install are highly compatible with almost any hardware, allowing users to mix and match their control hardware for the most efficiency.