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PLC and SCADA – Tools of Automation

February 29, 2016

Industrial automation is a phrase we often hear, when reducing labor cost and increasing production volume are the goals of all manufacturing companies. But what do we mean by automation? An industrial manufacturing setup involves different processes which have to be controlled as per a particular sequence, and need to be monitored 24/7.These operations can either be done by deploying manpower or can be automated by employing control systems, information technologies, machines, and automation devices like PLC and SCADA. These automation devices can be used for controlling Variable frequency Drives (VFDs), industrial processes, machinery and factory assembly lines. Replacement of human interference and operator may result in substantial cost reduction in the long run, can lead to a steady and fast rate of production, may be good substitutes for humans in hazardous conditions, and more apt for monotonous human work.

In the past, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) functions were primarily performed by dedicated computer-based SCADA systems. Whereas these systems still do exist and are widely used in industry, the SCADA functions can increasingly be performed by TCP/IP/Ethernet-based systems. The advantage of the latter approach is that the system is open; hence hardware and software components from various vendors can be seamlessly and easily integrated to perform control and data acquisition functions. However, stand-alone SCADA systems are still being marketed. Thus as PLCs and SCADA systems continue to be lucrative automation devices, several companies like Allen Bradley, Delta, Siemens, and Schneider have their own set of PLC, SCADA, HMI products and their own proprietary software programming language.

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