There is a wealth of information available on a plant floor, but for that information to be useful to managers and supervisors, it’s imperative that it be compiled and visualized in such a way that it is easily accessible and quickly understood. Machine operators, plant managers, and even executives can make real-time decisions based on current information and trends that detail everything from current productivity of the plant as a whole, or that of individual units in the entire system. SCADA systems are increasingly vital in staying competitive in the current automation environment.
Developing a SCADA system may require an initial investment in SCADA software, consulting services, or even hardware, but the long term benefits of having a customized supervisory system far outweigh the initial outlay when the information is put to good use. There are also practices that can help minimize the cost of the initial investment, such as proper planning, finding an efficient developer, knowing how the information will be used, and choosing the proper SCADA software platform to build the new SCADA system around.
Utilizing a flexible SCADA software platform like InduSoft Web Studio is one of the best ways to get access to the tools required to develop a robust SCADA system. Because InduSoft Web Studio allows users to develop HMIs and interface easily with proprietary systems, it acts as the perfect gateway for collecting information. The personalized customer support and powerful graphic tools offer SCADA developers a fast and easy platform for creating a useful supervisory system.
When making the decision to develop or install a customized SCADA system here are some things to consider:
- The speed at which operators can understand a problem, diagnose it, and get production running again is real added value. Think of your production or process as a printing press for money, if it is not running, it is not making money. Use a SCADA system to pinpoint the source of failures and diagnose them fast, using tools built into the application.
- The value of the data you collect is not in the numbers, but how you visualize it, trend it and understand it. By using the tools offered in a SCADA system, such as trends, plots, graphs and easy to understand color styles, it’s easy to convert the data into easy to understand “information” that can be used to make critical real-time decisions.
- Don’t just collect data because you have to. Learn from the information and feed it back into the system. By evaluating the logs from many similar machines and using statistical formulas, you can make simple changes in your process that can have a profound impact on the quality and output. Reviewing known good recipes and procedures is another excellent way it maintain productivity.
- When you make what seems to be a subtle change to inputs, record and analyze the effect it has on the output. For example, a slight speed increase to production might actually slow things down. By increasing the speed, extra errors will occur and the machine may experience more shutdowns. Additional errors may mean producing a lower quality product at a slower rate. These may not be visible at an individual machine level, but when you look at the larger picture they may be easier to understand.
- A SCADA system that monitors individual pieces of the puzzle against the whole are a great way to pinpoint gaps in potential. By studying one machine’s output against others, it may be possible to see which operators need more training, or which machines require servicing to maintain a quality output.
- Simplify the connection to proprietary based HMIs with a quality SCADA system. Use SCADA software to track and log information to widely available database technologies such as Microsoft SQL or MySQL. Systems that would otherwise be an “island of automation” can now be connected to a centralized database via a data concentrator, or communication gateway SCADA system built around a platform like InduSoft Web Studio.