Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Bottom Line: Monitoring remote locations in real-time at a low operating cost combined with advances in AI and machine learning to interpret data are why cloud platforms are defining the future of SCADA and industrial monitoring.
Cloud platforms’ reliability, security, and scale are defining the future of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)-based real-time industrial monitoring. By adopting cloud-based technologies to provide a 360-degree view of remote operations, oil and gas, transportation, and telecommunications enterprises are achieving process efficiency gains, reducing costs, and improving remote site security across all locations. Cloud platforms are also proving effective at providing organizations with a 360-degree view of physical and IT-based perimeters of every remote location an organization relies on today. Interesting companies in this field include Twenty20 Solutions who provides a cloud-based platform for enabling real-time surveillance, detection and remote access control systems. Cloud-based Industrial IoT platforms are also showing rapid gains in innovation in these areas with Software AG’s Cumulocity IoT, Hitachi’s Lumada platform and Exosite’s Murano IIoT platform leading the IIoT market.
SCADA-based industrial monitoring networks rely on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) to capture data from remote locations and assets. Taken together, the many different forms of sensors SCADA industrial monitoring systems are compatible with providing new insights into machine and asset quality, reliability, and performance. Machine to machine (M2M) technology is also bringing real-time data to Statistical Process Control (SPC) applications capable of providing real-time alerts, graphs, and reports.
Why Cloud Is the Future of SCADA Industrial Monitoring
The data SCADA systems capture needs to be aggregated, analyzed, and available in real-time to access the relative health and stability of every remote plant location. By having cloud-based platforms supporting SCADA industrial monitoring systems, it’s also possible to monitor every piece of machinery, production asset, and system without having to send technicians to remote and potentially dangerous locations like a North Sea oil rig, for example. The following are ten reasons why the cloud is the future of SCADA and Industrial Monitoring:
1. Using data from cloud-based SCADA industrial monitoring systems, it’s possible to continually improve product quality using Statistical Process Control (SPC) techniques for remote process production. Knowing which production processes, machines, work centers, and product lines are operating at high-quality levels and which aren’t is essential for keeping remote operations running smoothly. Having real-time data to use in SPC for continually tracking, controlling, and fine-tuning remote manufacturing processes is key. Setting up alerts in SPC Modules to alert quality management, production engineering, and scheduling when there is a deviation in performance can help avert millions of dollars in lost production time and avert having to replace remote production assets as well.
2. Attain higher levels of compliance and traceability by receiving data directly from remote locations in real-time. Given the rapid advances in PLC-based monitoring and Machine to Machine (M2M) interfaces, it’s possible to capture real-time data on metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of interest. Collecting data across remote locations in real-time and looking for patterns, trends, and predictive insights make direct contributions to improving process efficiency.
3. Use cloud-based SCADA industrial monitoring systems to improve remote production plan performance by attaining greater schedule accuracy. By having real-time data from a cloud-based SCADA system, process production parameters can be fine-tuned and checked for accuracy. Without it, long-standing assumptions of fixed production times can hold an entire oil and gas production line back from accomplishing more.
4. Know the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for remote assets and use them to benchmark machine or asset performance over time. By relying on real-time data, oil & gas, utilities, and telecommunication companies are gaining quicker insights and can determine which areas of availability, performance, and quality are most impacting performance. OEE is calculated by multiplying machine Availability by Performance by Quality. Stabilizing machinery performance is the factor that drives the majority of manufacturers first to adopt OEE.
5. Prolonging the life of the equipment, machinery, and tools using SCADA data captured in real-time to predict when maintenance, repair, and overhaul need to take place. SCADA-based industrial monitoring systems are providing an entirely new series of insights into how equipment and machinery lifespans can be improved. By aggregating the data on a cloud platform, everyone in the organization can analyze it with advanced predictive analytics, AI, and machine learning tools. Cloud-based SCADA systems are providing new insights into preventative maintenance, changing long-standing assumptions, and improving performance. All of these factors contribute to better business results, driving up Return On Invested Capital (ROIC) as machinery lasts longer.
6. Enabling greater analysis of SCADA data by having it available on a cloud platform allows higher levels of inventory control accuracy and performance across all production locations. Batch-oriented approaches to inventory control, while economical, delay decisions and are prone to errors. Migrating to real-time inventory control delivers a wealth of benefits, including eliminating overstock of raw materials, increasing inventory turns, and drastically reducing physical inventory from weeks to days.
7. Reaching a new level of accuracy, quality, precision, and speed with internal and regulatory audits becomes achievable when every department can access SCADA data on a cloud platform, enabling greater collaboration. Internal quality audits can be done faster and more often to undercover areas for improvement at remote processing sites. Engineering, Quality, Safety, and Compliance teams can see the data at the same time, further improving communication, collaboration, and results.
8. Improving cycle times by using SCADA data to better manage and optimize against constraints at each remote location is more achievable on a centralized cloud platform. Attaining higher levels of cycle time performance often requires redefining and re-engineering parts of the production process. Constraints that get in the way of gaining greater cycle time improvement can be discovered using SCADA data. Once a solution is found to a common bottleneck, the improvements can be scaled across all remote locations. Cloud-based platforms make replicating solutions to common process flow problems more efficient and measurable.
9. Knowing which factors most and least contribute to machine stability and performance over time by location, asset, and process workflows. Having SCADA data available on a cloud platform gives production planners, supply chain managers, demand planners and production specialists the data they need to plan current and future process workflows by location. Having real-time data being aggregated into a single cloud platform also gives IT and Operations an opportunity for the first time to create dashboards that reflect the status of every remote location on a 24/7 basis.
10. All remote control functions across every plant and remote site can be coordinated from a single cloud-based dashboard with sensor-based and video results provided in real-time. Enabling and disabling automatic versus manual overrides is possible for every plant in a company’s network of remote locations. One of the main benefits of having a centralized SCADA platform is the ability to coordinate all remote control functions and activities from a single location. Video surveillance that relies on machine vision-based algorithms to identify and isolate anomalous activity and behavior is being integrated into SCADA systems to improve remote monitoring further. Combining SCADA, real-time sensor and video data feeds helps oil & gas and utility companies to gain early warning of events that could lead to potential environmental violations, including water, chemical or materials leaks or emissions, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines in the process.