PLC & SCADA
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a control system architecture comprising computers, networked data communications and graphical user interfaces (GUI) for high-level process supervisory management, while also comprising other peripheral devices like programmable logic controllers (PLC) and discrete proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers to interface with process plant or machinery.
The operator interfaces which enable monitoring and the issuing of process commands, like controller set point changes, are handled through the SCADA computer system. The subordinated operations, e.g. the real-time control logic or controller calculations, are performed by networked modules connected to the field sensors and actuators.
The SCADA concept was developed to be a universal means of remote-access to a variety of local control modules, which could be from different manufacturers and allowing access through standard automation protocols. In practice, large SCADA systems have grown to become very similar to distributed control systems in function, while using multiple means of interfacing with the plant. They can control large-scale processes that can include multiple sites, and work over large distances as well as small distance. It is one of the most commonly-used types of industrial control systems
A programmable logic controller (PLC) or programmable controller is an industrial digital computer that has been ruggedized and adapted for the control of manufacturing processes, such as assembly lines, robotic devices, or any activity that requires high reliability, ease of programming, and process fault diagnosis
PLCs can range from small modular devices with tens of inputs and outputs (I/O), in a housing integral with the processor, to large rack-mounted modular devices with thousands of I/O, and which are often networked to other PLC and SCADA systems.
They can be designed for many arrangements of digital and analog I/O, extended temperature ranges, immunity to electrical noise, and resistance to vibration and impact. Programs to control machine operation are typically stored in battery-backed-up or non-volatile memory.
PLCs were first developed in the automobile manufacturing industry to provide flexible, rugged and easily programmable controllers to replace hard-wired relay logic systems. Since then, they have been widely adopted as high-reliability automation controllers suitable for harsh environments.
A PLC is an example of a “hard” real-time system since output results must be produced in response to input conditions within a limited time, otherwise unintended operation will result.