In the world of manufacturing nothing is more important than data. While data has driven manufacturing planning and decision-making for decades, displaying it, capturing it, understanding it, and using it remotely are all critical-mission applications that manufacturers rely on to plan everything – from today’s production to the factory floor of the future. Manufacturers need data to tell us if a system is performing productively, as well as alert them when pumps are leaking, filters need replacing, and when parts being produced are no longer in tolerance.
A systems integrator is the resource for improving productivity. Integrators understand how to make factory floor and business IT systems communicate with each other, with the purpose of accelerating data availability — to reduce overall operating costs.
Typically, hiring a systems integrator eliminates the need to work with multiple vendors on individual equipment and processes, and thereby also reduces integration costs. A systems integrator can:
• Display data on HMI and computer screens;
• Capture data in different formats for storage, and later dissemination;
• Trend pressure, temperature, flow and any other analog input;
• Track downtimes, maintenance, runtime hours, and waste; and
• Represent the real world on a screen.
Systems integrators use Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)s to monitor, control, and capture data, including:
• Digital inputs and outputs (AC or DC) limit switches, push buttons, disconnects, pressure switches, lights, horns, solenoids, and motor-starters;
• Analog inputs and outputs (mA or volts) thermocouples, pressure transmitters, flow sensors, VFD, rpm, speed, amperage, voltages, valve position, counters, timers, totalizers, math computing capabilities; and
• Special control algorithms like PID (closed-loop control.)Each PLC communicates on a network (usually Ethernet) that connects to a human man interface (HMI), computers (running SCADA software) and other PLCs to monitor and control the process, network, and share/store the data.
Here is an example of Ethernet network layout, PLC communicating with HMIs, drives, power monitor, and Spang SCR power controllers. Green, yellow and red backgrounds indicate status of the network connected with Ethernet switches.
SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) is a computer-based system for gathering and analyzing real-time data to monitor and control equipment throughout a manufacturing facility.
A SCADA control system is a computer, or server, connected to a network with PLCs, monitoring a system, gathering data, and using alarms to alert operators to problems and events. Skilled operators and programmers are required to maintain a complex SCADA system.
The manufacturer’s requirements will dictate how complex a SCADA system must be. Quality control, downtime logging, waste management, centralized system management, and more simplified control of the process are all typical SCADA designs. This means you can take something like a launder system that is managed by Honeywell controllers and amp meters and volt meters, and provide a wealth of information to the manufacturing network. Here is an example of the data that can be captured.
Data is captured by the PLC and displayed on an HMI touchscreen, and it can be sent to other servers via Wi-Fi. Alarm parameters can be set to receive notifications via text, email, or phone call. For example, an alarm for zero flame detection can be sent to notify the supervisor.
SCADA systems are ideal for quality control because they can proof the quality of a casting and head-off problems before they become production or quality, or safety, issues. It can also stop production in a cell if necessary, and all the data is collected and stored for protection and analysis. SCADA controls allow plant managers and operators to monitor production processes 24/7, easily and remotely.
The many benefits of a SCADA system include reducing overall production costs by reducing downtime and lowering scrap levels (as well as reducing disposal costs.) All of this results because higher-quality castings are being produced – which of course will increase customer satisfaction. Operators also will have reliable data for future production runs, and that also will contribute to lower operating costs.
A SCADA review starts with an assessment of operational goals, and a visit with a systems integrator.