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SCADA System – Components, Hardware & Software Architecture, Types

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SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems are used in monitoring and control of What are you searching for??
industrial equipment in various stages such as development, manufacturing, production and
fabrication. This post will discuss SCADA system, basic components (in detail), hardware & software Search …
architecture, types, applications, advantages and disadvantages.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction to SCADA System

2 Basic Components of SCADA System
2.1 1. Human Machine Interface
2.2 2. Supervisory System
2.3 3. Remote Terminal Units
2.4 4. Programmable Logic Controllers
2.5 5. Communication Infrastructure (
2.6 6. SCADA Programming inverter-home-circuit-step-by-step-method/) How to
3 Architecture of SCADA Make Simple Inverter at Home – Step by Step
3.1 Hardware Architecture (
3.2 Software Architecture inverter-home-circuit-step-by-step-method/)

4 Types of SCADA System

4.1 1. Early or Monolithic SCADA Systems (First Generation) down-transformer/) Step Down
4.2 2. Distributed SCADA Systems (Second Generation) Transformer – Working Principle,
4.3 3. Networked SCADA Systems (Third Generation) Equation, Types, Advantages &
4.4 4. Internet of Things SCADA Systems (Fourth Generation) Disadvantages
5 Applications of SCADA System (
6 Advantages of SCADA System

Introduction to SCADA System

There are several processes that run in large industrial establishments. These processes are
complex to monitor because every machine differs in its output capacities. The Supervisory Control
Infrared Sensor – How it Works, Types,
and Data Acquisition system helps in managing this complex industrial procedure by maintaining Applications, Advantage & Disadvantage
efficiency, encouraging smarter decisions through data processing techniques and communication (

of system issues to mitigate downtime.

curve-applications/) Unijunction Transistor (UJT) –
Construction, Working, Characteristics Curve &

disadvantages/) Embedded System –
Characteristics, Types, Advantages &
( system-characteristics-types-advantages-

Fig. 1 – Introduction to SCADA System

only-memory-rom/) Read Only
SCADA is a system of hardware and software elements that facilitate process control. This central Memory (ROM) – Working, Types,
control system consist of communication equipment, network interfaces, input/ output devices and Applications, Advantages &
software. It allows organizations to carry out following functions:
Manage industrial processes remotely or locally.

Real-time data gathering, monitoring and processing. (

Direct interaction with devices like valves, motors, pumps, valves using Human Machine explanation-mathematical-
expressions-applications/) Hall Effect
Interface (HMI) software.
Principle – History, Theory Explanation,
Create a log file of events. Mathematical Expressions and Applications
This system is used for monitoring and control of industrial equipment in development, principle-history-theory-explanation-mathematical-
manufacturing, production and fabrication phases. Real time monitoring can be achieved through
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) (
controller/) and circuit breakers.

scada system components scada architecture stabilizer-why-we-need-it-how-it-works-types-
plc programming scada software applications/) What is Voltage Stabilizer – Why we
need it, How it works, Types and Applications
Basic Components of SCADA System (
A basic SCADA system consists of following components: applications/)

1. Human Machine Interface

2. Supervisory System

3. Remote Terminal Units (

4. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) What is MOSFET – Working, Types, Applications,
Advantages & Disadvantages
5. Communication Infrastructure
6. SCADA Programming types-applications-advantages-disadvantages/)

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Fig. 3 – Human Machine Interface in SCADA


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Communication OPEN (

2. Supervisory System
current (
This system acts as a communication server between the HMI software in control room
data (
workstations and its equipment like PLCs (
Design (
controller/), RTUs, sensors etc.
device (

Smaller Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems have only a single PC that serves as a Digital (
supervisory or master system. Larger Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems have
multiple servers, sites for disaster recovery and distributed software applications. The servers are (

configured as dual-redundant or hot-standby formation for continuously monitoring server failure. equip (

3. Remote Terminal Units equipment


This system contains physical objects that are interfaced with Remote Terminal Units (RTUs). These field (
electronic devices are controlled by microprocessors and are used for transmitting recorded data to functions
the supervisory systems. They also receive data from the master system in order to control the (

connected objects. Gyro (

They are also called as Remote Telemetry Units.

4. Programmable Logic Controllers Hardware


inertial (
PLCs ( find their use in the inertial system
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system through sensors. They are attached to the sensors
in order to convert the sensor output signal into digital data. Interface

They are preferred over RTUs because of their configuration, flexibility, affordability and versatility. lifecycle
life cycle (
scada system components scada architecture cycle/)
scada data scada device
5. Communication Infrastructure
magnetic field
Generally, a combination of direct wired connection and radio is used in Supervisory Control and (

Data Acquisition systems. However, SDH/ SONET can also be used for larger systems like motor (

railways and power stations. navigation

Among the compact SCADA protocols, few recognized and standardized protocols deliver
Obsolescence management
information only when the RTUs are polled by the supervisory station. (
6. SCADA Programming
SCADA programming in HMI or master station is used for creating diagrams and maps that provide
vital information during process or event failure. Most of the commercial Supervisory Control and product (

Data Acquisition systems use standardized interfaces in programming. receiver (

C language or derived programming language is generally used for such programming. (

safety (
Architecture of SCADA
Most often, this system consists of the following components: operating equipment, local processors, (

instruments, PLCs, RTUs, master terminal, intelligent electronic devices and a PC with HMI. However, system (

for ease of understanding, SCADA architecture may be divided in two categories: Technology
Hardware Architecture
test (
Software Architecture
Hardware Architecture
types (

The Hardware architecture of this system is classified into two parts: Working Principle
Client Layer: For man machine interface principle/)

Data Server Layer: For data processing

The SCADA station consist of only a single PC. The devices and data servers communicate with
each other through RTUs or PLCs (
The PLCs ( are either directly
connected to the data servers or through buses and networks. This system uses LAN and WAN for
communicating between devices and the master station.

Fig. 4 – SCADA Hardware Architecture

Sensors are connected to the PLCs ( controller/)

or RTUs that convert sensor signals into digital data. This data is then sent to the master unit for
getting appropriate feedback. Upon receiving feedback, the RTUs apply the electrical signals to

Software Architecture

Servers are used mainly for real time database and multitasking and are responsible for handling
and gathering of data.


Fig. 5 – SCADA Software Architecture

The software architecture of this system consists of programs that provide trending, diagnostic
information. Programs also help in managing information like logistic information, maintenance
schedules, detailed schematics of a specific machine or sensor and troubleshooting guides.

Types of SCADA System

There are four different types of SCADA systems from four generations. They are:
1. Early or Monolithic SCADA Systems (First Generation)

2. Distributed SCADA Systems (Second Generation)

3. Networked SCADA Systems (Third Generation)

4. IoT SCADA Systems (Fourth Generation)

1. Early or Monolithic SCADA Systems (First Generation)

Minicomputers were used in the earlier Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems.
Monolithic systems were developed during times when ordinary network services were unavailable.
These were designed to be independent systems without any connection to other systems.


Fig. 6 – Monolithic SCADA System

Back up mainframe was used to gather data from all remote terminal units. Functions of these early
systems were limited to flagging of operations in case of emergency and monitoring the sensors.

2. Distributed SCADA Systems (Second Generation)

Here, the control function was distributed across several systems that were connected using LAN.
Command processing and real-time data were shared to perform control operations.


Fig. 7 – Distributed SCADA Systems

The second generation resulted in the reduction of size and cost of each station but there were no
standardized network protocols. Since the protocols were proprietary, very few people understood
the security of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system installation and this factor was
largely ignored.

3. Networked SCADA Systems (Third Generation)

Present Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems are networked and communicate over
WAN system through phone or data lines. Fiber optic connections or Ethernet is used for data
transmission between the nodes.


Fig. 8 – Network SCADA System

These systems use PLC ( for

adjusting and monitoring the flagging operations only when there is a requirement for major

4. Internet of Things SCADA Systems (Fourth Generation)

The fourth generation is seeing a reduction in infrastructural cost of these systems by adopting IoT
with cloud computing (
advantages-applications/). Integration and maintenance is also made very easy in the fourth
generation system.

Fig. 8 – IoT SCADA Systems

Image Source: blog.seeb

These systems can report the state in real time using cloud computing. Thus intricate control
algorithms can be implemented that are often used on traditional PLCs.

Applications of SCADA System

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems are mainly used to monitor a wide data variety like
currents, voltages, temperature, pressure, water levels etc. in several industries. If any abnormal
conditions are detected, alarms at remote or central sites are triggered for operator alert. The various
applications of SCADA Systems include:

1. Power Generation & Distribution: Used to monitor current flow, voltage, circuit
breaker functions. Also used in remotely switching on/ off of power grids.
2. Water & Sewage System: Used by municipal corporations for regulating and
monitoring water flow, reservoir status, pressure in distribution pipes, etc.
3. Industries and Buildings: Used to control HVAC, central air conditioning, lighting, entry/
exit gates, etc.
4. Oil and Gas Industries: Used for regulating and monitoring flow, reservoir status, pressure
in distribution pipes, etc.
5. Communication Networks: Used for monitoring and controlling servers, networks and nodes.

6. Manufacturing: Used for managing inventories for controlling over manufacturing/ stocking.
Also used for monitoring and regulating instrumentation, process and product quality.
7. Public Transport: Used for regulating subway electricity, automating traffic signals/
railway crossing and live tracking of flights/ trains/ buses.

Advantages of SCADA System

The advantages of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system include:

Improvement in Service Quality

Improvement in Reliability

Reduction in operation and maintenance costs

Easy to monitor large system parameters

Real time information on demand

Reduction in Manpower

Value added services

Ease in Fault Detection and Fault Localization (FDFL)

Reduction in Repair Time (System Down Time)

Also Read:
Haptic Technology – Feedback, Devices, Working Principle, Applications
( nology/)
Wiring Color Codes – USA, UK, Europe & Canada Codes, When to Apply
Global Positioning System (GPS) – Architecture, Applications, Advantages
( sitioning-system-gps/)

Nandini Raghvendra
Nandini is a PGDBA and BE graduate in ECE and has work experience as a
software test engineer at Applied Materials and C Square Technologies Pvt
Ltd. She is an Author, Editor and Partner at Electricalfundablog.

PLC-SCADA Automation
100% Job Guarantee Course

Learn PLC-SCADA automation from industry

experts with best training institute in Pune.



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