What are the Advantages of IIoT Compared to Traditional Automation Systems?

“Industrial IoT” and “connected factory” are the main concepts that we are familiar with the improvement of Industry 4.0. With the development of these concepts, some issues are being discussed: “Will IIoT replace SCADA?” “Is it possible to combine these two applications?” “What are the differences and connections between IoT, SCADA, and PLC?”

IoT should be seen as a complement to SCADA systems and applied as a layer on top of it. IoT systems have many advantages compared to SCADA systems such as scalability, data analytics, standardization and besides being a great complement to SCADA systems.

IoT is becoming more and more popular by providing digitalized solutions responsive to Industry 4.0 age and having the capability to interact with SCADA systems. For more than 40 years, SCADA solutions have helped various industries monitor and manage their applications and processes, improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. In the digitalizing world, SCADA systems are believed to have difficulty in capturing innovations and responding to new demands with expanding technological developments and connecting the world via smartphones and internet cloud technologies. At this point, IoT systems need to be positioned as something that will take SCADA to the next level rather than being positioned as the competitor of SCADA systems. Using these two systems together to provide better results in industrial areas rather than fighting each other creates wiser results.

What is SCADA?

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Systems) can be summarized as a software and hardware system that enables industrial processes to control, monitor, collect and process real-time data. It has a structure that allows direct interaction with smart devices and various software and records log events.

In this case, we can say that SCADA is similar to IoT. IoT, a brighter and new technology, is developing faster than anything we’ve seen in recent years, while SCADA is a “must have” for some industries who have been using it for years. For example, SCADA remains an important concept for the oil and gas industry, especially when monitoring offshore of offshore extraction or pipeline from a remote central location. In the mining sector, SCADA is similarly used to monitor environmental factors and monitor assets. SCADA used in Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Distribution Management Systems (DMS) to optimize the performance of power supplies, transmission, and distribution networks and to protect the network. Therefore, we can say that SCADA systems are still used in heavy asset industries.

What is PLC?

The PLC, which is the abbreviation of the Programmable Logic Controller, is still using today as a technology for both SCADA and IoT solutions.

PLCs receive information from connected sensors or input devices, process data and trigger outputs based on pre-programmed parameters. A PLC can monitor and record real-time data such as machine efficiency or operating temperature. It can also automatically start, stop and alarm when a machine fails. Most of the functions of a PLC work in conjunction with SCADA and IoT systems. In Industry 4.0, PLCs can be used for actions such as transmitting data through a web browser, connecting to databases via SQL (Structured Query Language).

IoT vs SCADA

Although the SCADA system offers the essential features indispensable to many of the industries mentioned above, it lacks developing technological innovations and has a problem of adaption. The solutions to overcome these problems are IoT solutions that can be integrated into the SCADA architecture very quickly.

The most important issue to integrate IoT systems is that SCADA’s solution is still limited to the factory floor. Data from various machines in the factory can only be monitored on-site with SCADA systems. IoT, on the other hand, can present data from deeper machines or various infrastructures in a way that can be used and monitored at any time, anywhere.

The common point of both SCADA and IoT solutions can be summarized as collecting data from a variety of infrastructures, even if they use different ways (such as wired/wireless communication, data transfer rate) Although they are different in many ways, this data collection action is for a common goal: to optimize the usage, gain better control over some machines or processes and ultimately improve productivity.

SCADA is not a complete control system, but it is a computer system that collects and analyzes data in real-time and useful for monitoring and controlling industrial equipment. It collects information about the problem, sends it back to a central location and warns the center. It then performs the necessary analysis and checks and displays the information in a logical and organized way for teams and then interprets and uses it accordingly.

IoT solutions are also responsible for collecting, analyzing and displaying data from machines or various infrastructures. Although it may seem to do the same thing as SCADA, the biggest advantage is that it can provide wireless solutions with the flexibility that SCADA cannot provide. Let’s take this scenario, the total energy consumption levels in a production facility can be controlled by SCADA. However, if you need a deeper data for better operation management, machinery and equipment based energy consumption monitoring will be a complex, long-term and very costly project to complete with the SCADA system.

With wireless IoT systems, it is easy to perform a more detailed measurement and offer a cost-effective solution compared to SCADA. IoT systems allow remote detection or control of machines between different network infrastructures. Therefore, it creates opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems. This improves efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit and at the same time reduces human intervention.

Both platforms have different advantages and disadvantages and both systems work for the same goal for industrial areas. In this case, the optimum solution seems to be to integrate and complement these two systems. By 2020, 50 billion devices are expected to connect to the internet. For this reason, the dynamics of an internet-based control system are becoming a living reality. Industry 4.0 is creating a period in which the evolving automation trend and the exchange of data in manufacturing technologies have shifted from traditionally applied SCADA to IoT systems.

Conclusion

By integrating the IoT solution into an existing SCADA system, it is possible to achieve deeper, more detailed and easier to use results. Data collected using IoT’s power and scalability can be used for a variety of purposes, such as increasing productivity, reducing costs and improving product quality.

In the future, it seems likely that SCADA systems will be completely replaced by IoT systems. Equipment used in industrial areas will produce “smartly” as they manufactured in the future and will be able to integrate different cloud platforms with built-in sensors.