What is SCADA?

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In this article we look at what the term SCADA means. We explore the meaning of SCADA using these topics:

What the Term SCADA means?

The term SCADA is short for: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.

It is software and hardware to allow humans to monitor and control an Automated Process.

Applications of SCADA

SCADA finds uses in a wide range of applications. For example:

In each of these applications the role of SCADA is the same. If is to provide the operators of the Automated Process with the information they need to run their equipment safely and efficiently.

The SCADA Tools for Operators

A good SCADA system should provide these tools for plant operators:

In the SCADA industry the terms used to describe the tools in a SCADA system are not consistent. Different vendors often use different terms to mean the same thing. For example:

SCADA TermCommon Alternative
Graphic Display Display, Screen, Window, Graphic, Mimic, Diagram
Trend Graph, Historic Trend, Plot
Alarm List Alarm Log
Event List Event Log

SCADA Configuration

A SCADA system will rarely do anything useful when the SCADA software is first installed. Usually the SCADA software will run a demonstration configuration to show some of its capabilities.

To be useful to the plant operator, the SCADA system requires configuration. The exact steps required to configure the SCADA system vary between different systems, but generally follow these steps:

Configuring the SCADA is the responsibility of the System Integrator. Large organizations may have their own resources for this role. Smaller organizations would use an external resource. For example:

The Automated Process

An automated process normally uses a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) to control the process.

The PLC will use a range of sensors to monitor the process variables. The PLC will interface to a range of actuators to control the process.

The program in the PLC controls the actuators to operate in the correct sequence in response to:

Further Information

Fernhill SCADA Concepts

To learn about other Fernhill SCADA Concepts.

Fernhill SCADA Operator Interface

To learn about the Operator Tools in Fernhill SCADA.

Fernhill SCADA Configuration Tool

To learn how to configure Fernhill SCADA.


For the meaning of terms used in Fernhill SCADA.