The world we live in is ever-changing and fast-paced through the advancements of technology. With tremendous strides and continuous progress that occurs monthly, industrial automation puts technology to full use. Automation can entail many things, from a simple start-stop conveyor system to a full production line with safety systems, data collection, and more. Swift progress in automation and technology has led us to IoT 4.0, also known as the industrial internet of things 4.0.
The age of Industrial IoT is upon us and HMI/SCADA systems face new challenges pertaining to their integration with modern technological marvels such as Big Data, Cloud, IoT, predictive analytics and 4G/LTE, etc.
The HMI software market has been hit hard by the advent of IoT, shaping its very development and resultant features. For some, SCADA systems are bound to become obsolete as edge computing takes over, with the intelligence become distributed rather than recouping in a central location. These thoughts are backed by the rise in AI engines, cloud computing capabilities and digital twins, disrupting conventional industrial schemes.
First, one should know that there is a very clear (yet forgotten) difference between HMI and SCADA, with the former being a closer counterpart of an individual operator and latter acting as a central control for an entire plant. Even though SCADA provides a comprehensive solution for monitoring, control, automation and reporting, several vendors sell HMIs, historian software, reporting tools and alarm software along with higher-level applications, e.g. MESs, analytics, etc. This means there’s a redundancy in the market regarding the functions and features of SCADA systems.
With new technologies such as IoT coming into play, HMI/SCADA software is becoming more mission-critical. The room for errors is decreasing as even a minute mistake can have a big impact over the plant floor. IoT devices, as one may call them, give users access to lots of useful data along with a higher refresh rate. This seems beneficial from a business standpoint but is sometimes hard to implement from the technical point of view. The next generation of HMI/SCADA hardware and software aim to address such technical challenges.
As digitization continues, availability of energy-efficient Ethernet and Wi-Fi networks becomes a reality. This allows equipment to be distributed further across the factory floor, and even be made “mobile” for added flexibility. As stated earlier, edge-located IoT devices are becoming the norm, spurring issues for traditional connectivity schemes. In a typical factory arrangement, data follows a path similar to this:
- OPC Server
- PC based HMI/SCADA
- Reporting/charting system
On the other hand, HMI/SCADA systems of the future will flatten out such a tall hierarchy, leaving only three pieces behind:
- Groov EPIC
- Cloud or on-premises applications
The hierarchy stated above can take advantage of modern open-source hardware and software platforms that don’t tie factory managers to a specific standard. Specialized elements can be superseded with standard building blocks.
Moreover, the development of edge technologies mean that newer platforms are embedded with sufficient connectivity and processing power, eliminating the need for layers of PLC servers and PCs. When we say, “edge component”, we mean an entity that borrows features from a PLC, PC and HMI, functioning as an industrial controller.
Each edge component possesses the ability to act as a bridge for other intelligent devices all the way up to the cloud. From thereon, they can form the core of the new architecture on top of which HMI and SCADA is built.
Hardware alone isn’t enough to bridge the gap between IoT devices and HMI/SCADA systems. Instead, developers would have to rely on numerous open-source and built-in software technologies, namely:
- Linux OS
- Native OIT/HMI options
- OPC UA drivers
- Improved licensing
Windows continues to be a popular choice for HMI and SCADA manufacturers, but in recent years it has faced stiff competition from the open-source alternative Linux that promises greater security and stability. Much of the development taking place on IoT and smart devices is based on Linux, Ubuntu being a popular distro.
OPC UA drivers are built into many components shipped out today, facilitating native communications between edge devices and popular PLCs. This allows the power of IoT devices to be reaped out to the fullest level. Finally, security is being made firmer through technologies such as MQTT that allows secure inbound/outbound communications to take place. It can operate seamlessly over typical business IT systems, avoiding complex and stiff network configurations. MQTT is often used in conjunction with Sparkplug that effectively delivers industrial-type messages throughout the plant.
The future is exciting to say the least and is already here; technologies such as those mentioned above have already started shifting the traditional route of HMI/SCADA development, something that will only pick up pace with the passage of time.
Interested in learning more? Visit our website www.premierautomation.com, or talk to one of our specialists today.
The widespread use of motors in fields ranging from manufacturing to household applications means that downtime due to a malfunctioned motor can result in a great loss of productivity. A step-by-step approach is the best way you can analyze and subsequently troubleshoot a failed system.
Industrial organizations are aligning themselves with Industry 4.0 and IoT not because it’s a general trend, but because such automation technologies can greatly influence one of the most important factors in a business: profitability.
The best way to ensure a high return on investment is adherence to open standards, allowing frequent upgrades at manageable costs, effectively future-proofing an industry’s infrastructure. For decades, PLCs have been the backbone of all automation technologies. Advancements in embedded cybersecurity, compliance to communication standards, and greater integration capabilities are all factors that can notch-up the productivity and reliability of PLC applications.
Along with heat, dust and poor lubrication, moisture is one of the leading causes of motor failure. Compared to installations in dry areas, electric motors get an instant slump in their operating lives as soon as they’re set-up in a damp area. For instance, when a warm motor shuts down, it sucks in cool air, which naturally would contain moisture due to the location. This leads to condensation droplets that are absorbed by the insulation, leading to corrosion of the windings. Furthermore, motors that are operated intermittently are at greater risk since they can accumulate moisture and with the passage of time deteriorate a motor’s operational life.
Whether it’s a PLC, a PAC or a PC, a controller is a fundamental piece of hardware required for an automated system to function. Controllers have been around for decades, and have faced great technological automation. Specifying controllers for a particular application has gained increased amount of complexity due to the many options available. Quality, cost, ease of use, functionality, etc. are just some of the factors that have to be taken into account before specifying a PLC.
Be True to the Requirements
Every project has its own specific requirements. When working with a controller, it’s important to know its functionalities and limitations. There’s nothing worse than selecting a particular device and then uncovering its pitfalls halfway in the project. Before you commit to a controller, its best to bench test the process.
The Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) has been one of the most evolving components of the automation industry, quick to take on changes that would enhance its capabilities and functionalities. PLCs have become completely assimilated into all major industries that require some sort of automation to complete their processes.
A Motor Control Center (MCC) is an integral part of a manufacturing plant, and its continuous operation is vital if the company wants to make a profit. The safety of Motor Control Centers is a hot-topic in modern equipment design due to the ensuing hazards, most notably arc flashes. The safety of both the MCC as well as the personnel who operate it should therefore be a priority and appropriate guards must be in place to tackle any emergency.
Safety is a top priority for companies and facilities not only because it protects its workers but it can also protect its machinery. When developing safety and control systems, facilities tend to focus on the machines and products inside the facility, but outside factors should not be forgotten. Companies should look beyond what is controllable in their facility when setting up their motor control centers.