As the collection, analysis and application of industrial data changes with the adoption of the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0, some end users wonder about the future of long-used automation technologies. Speaking to the US title Automation World, Sam Walton of Iconics UK, a supplier of HMI/SCADA, analytics and energy management software, argues that the rise of concepts like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and more formalized digitalization movements like Industry 4.0 have led many in industry to wonder about the future of automation hardware and software.
Clearly, technologies like sensors and controllers and industrial networks won’t disappear, as they provide the key sources of data and data conveyance required by IIoT. But what about automation technologies like SCADA? How will such technologies adapt – or be replaced = as the industry becomes more connected?
“SCADA as an operator interface and the features that make it obligatory — such as schematic visualisation, alarming, data logging, real-time control and the passing of data to data historians — are not going to be completely negated by IIoT technology, at least not anytime soon,” he says. He contends that it’s not a question of whether or not SCADA will be replaced by IIoT technologies. The more appropriate question to ask, Walton suggests, is: “Can the two concepts be integrated and what role will they play in the factory of the future as a new tidal wave of data from the IIoT surfaces?”
Considering the forward-looking direction Iconics and other SCADA/visualization technology suppliers have been headed in by exploring and developing capabilities such as those cited above, Walton says it’s clear that the IIoT will not eliminate SCADA, but that the two will be tightly integrated.
“Despite traditional SCADA systems operating in the ‘micro’ environment of manufacturing, collecting and visualising the day-to-day operations of a factory or process as the ‘macro’ environment of Industry 4.0 and IIoT expands, a more powerful SCADA is already here for use in this expanding macro environment, says Walton.