Scada, HMI, MMI


SCADA for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition. It generally refers to an industrial control system: a computer system monitoring and controlling a process. The process can be industrial, infrastructure or facility based as described below:

Industrial processes include those of manufacturing, production, power generation, fabrication, and refining, and may run in continuous, batch, repetitive, or discrete modes.
Infrastructure processes may be public or private, and include water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, oil and gas pipelines, electrical power transmission and distribution, and large communication systems.
Facility processes occur both in public facilities and private ones, including buildings, airports, ships, and space stations. They monitor and control HVAC, access, and energy consumption.

A SCADA System usually consists of the following subsystems:
A Human-Machine Interface or HMI is the apparatus which presents process data to a human operator, and through this, the human operator, monitors and controls the process.
A supervisory (computer) system, gathering (acquiring) data on the process and sending commands (control) to the process.
Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) connecting to sensors in the process, converting sensor signals to digital data and sending digital data to the supervisory system.
Communication infrastructure connecting the supervisory system to the Remote Terminal Units
There is, in several industries, considerable confusion over the differences between SCADA systems and Distributed control systems (DCS). Generally speaking, a SCADA system usually refers to a system that coordinates, but does not control processes in real time. The discussion on real-time control is muddied somewhat by newer telecommunications technology, enabling reliable, low latency, high speed communications over wide areas. Most differences between SCADA and Distributed control system DCS are culturally determined and can usually be ignored. As communication infrastructures with higher capacity become available, the difference between SCADA and DCS will fade.

Human Machine Interface

A Human-Machine Interface or HMI is the apparatus which presents process data to a human operator, and through which the human operator controls the process.
An HMI is usually linked to the SCADA system’s databases and software programs, to provide trending, diagnostic data, and management information such as scheduled maintenance procedures, logistic information, detailed schematics for a particular sensor or machine, and expert-system troubleshooting guides.
The HMI system usually presents the information to the operating personnel graphically, in the form of a mimic diagram. This means that the operator can see a schematic representation of the plant being controlled. For example, a picture of a pump connected to a pipe can show the operator that the pump is running and how much fluid it is pumping through the pipe at the moment. The operator can then switch the pump off. The HMI software will show the flow rate of the fluid in the pipe decrease in real time. Mimic diagrams may consist of line graphics and schematic symbols to represent process elements, or may consist of digital photographs of the process equipment overlain with animated symbols.
The HMI package for the SCADA system typically includes a drawing program that the operators or system maintenance personnel use to change the way these points are represented in the interface. These representations can be as simple as an on-screen traffic light, which represents the state of an actual traffic light in the field, or as complex as a multi-projector display representing the position of all of the elevators in a skyscraper or all of the trains on a railway.
An important part of most SCADA implementations are alarms. An alarm is a digital status point that has either the value NORMAL or ALARM. Alarms can be created in such a way that when their requirements are met, they are activated. An example of an alarm is the “fuel tank empty” light in a car. The SCADA operator’s attention is drawn to the part of the system requiring attention by the alarm. Emails and text messages are often sent along with an alarm activation alerting managers along with the SCADA operator.


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