Long-time acquaintance Travis Cox, Inductive Automation Chief Technology Evangelist, writes in Efficient Plant magazine (check it out—I had a very small part in that a long time ago and run by some friends) that SCADA is Changing the Game.

An engineer at a Phoenix Contact event approached me about 20 years ago. “You!” he exclaimed. “It’s all your fault. The boss reads your articles about remote monitoring and access to the control system. He now thinks that even when I’m on vacation at the beach, he should be able to reach me and have me fix a problem.”

We have come a long way since then.

The pandemic and government-mandated shutdowns had a significant impact on industrial organizations. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of staying connected to our industrial processes not only within the factory but remotely. It accelerated the demand for data and, for most organizations, was the catalyst for digital transformation. 

My conversation was a couple of years before I met Steve Hechtman, founder of Inductive Automation. A few years later:

The biggest question many organizations faced was whether their SCADA system was ready for transformation. The most obvious requirement was the ability to remotely see and control their process so operators and managers could stay connected from home. For some, this meant setting up VPNs, VNC servers, remote desktops, providing company laptops, purchasing additional SCADA client licenses, and installing modern SCADA systems.

I believe open standards foster innovation and better solutions for the user.

To meet the needs of today’s world, SCADA needs to be based on open standards, integrated with OT and IT, inherently secure, and deployed through modern practices. The days of siloed or closed systems are behind us, as they don’t work for today’s connected world.

Cox delineates the required capabilities of SCADA systems broken into five key areas.

  • Distributed architectures and edge technologies
  • Data modeling and UNS
  • Visualization and dashboards
  • Security
  • Leveraging the cloud.

His article details these five areas.

I am not going to copy the entire article. Check it out at Efficient Plant.

Cox concludes:

SCADA is not just SCADA anymore. The pandemic has forced a new way of thinking. Data is vital, and the true power of today’s SCADA is the ability to get access to data, move that data to the people who needs it, and be a conduit for getting insight into that data through analytics, dashboards, and machine learning. That’s why organizations everywhere are taking small steps to realize the benefits of these technologies today.

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