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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Is Manufacturing Maintains Middle Class, Misleading?

Manufacturing Maintains Middle Class?

A... not as much as you may think.
The Allen Bradley clock tower in Milwaukee above the global headquarters of Rockwell Automation. (Sophie Quinton)
Below is a link to a very informative article that while the irony of it may entertain you, it brings to light some good points. Many proclaim "Manufacturing maintains our middle class", but when you think about it, as the author of this article does in exploring the Rockwell Automation manufacturing company, you too may say...
... a, not so much.

The highlights of the article linked to below are: While one may tout "for every 10 manufacturing jobs, another 5 are supporting jobs are created", in context, that can be a misleading statement as far as USA middle class jobs are concerned. The writer points out the fact that many of those manufacturing jobs require a 4 year or greater degree. Also the author points out two other important facts. Those 5 additional supporting jobs created by new manufacturing often don't pay a living wage (not middle class) and not all 5 will be in the USA in today's global economy. Those are 3 very important points to consider when someone proclaims manufacturing supports the middle class now days. It may be as the author alludes to... manufacturing used to support the middle class.

Click This Is the Way Blue-Collar America Ends - Sophie Quinton - The Atlantic: "supply chain supporting manufacturing" to read this informative and enlightening article.

Oh yea, the irony. The company the author picked to use as an example, Rockwell Automation is in the business of automating manufactures so they are more productive with less employees.

What do you think? Please tell us by commenting below.

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .)Be sure to to stay on top!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What is SCADA?

What is SCADA?

 

Above are some sample slides from our New SCADA Basics course.
We can't assume everyone reading this "What is SCADA" blog post even knows the bare bones SCADA basics. Or even what the acronym means. So I will speak of some of most basic SCADA principles below, the sample SCADA Basics Course PowerPoint above will give the unknowing reader a little more. If you want to learn even more about SCADA, see our new SCADA Basics Course in its entirety by downloading from http://bin95.com/scada_tutorial_siemens_automation.htm

SCADA
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition - A computer software used as operator control interface (Supervisory Control/HMI) with ability to record data from real world equipment it has been programmed to monitor (Data Acquisition). This SCADA software allows operators to interact with equipment and company to record data from equipment used in industries like manufacturing, process control (like oil and gas industries), infrastructure (like sewer and water, power, transportation, etc) and buildings (like security, HVAC, etc.).
HMI
Human Machine Interface - A computer software used as operator control interface (Supervisory Control) This HMI software allows operators to interact with equipment used in industries like manufacturing, process control (like oil and gas industries), infrastructure (like sewer and water, transportation, etc)and buildings (like security, HVAC, etc.).
I included the HMI definition above so you can see the similarities. For a better understanding of exactly what is SCADA. For example if you take away the ‘Data Acquisition’ part of SCADA, what you have left is an HMI where the operator is capable of controlling multiple machines. An HMI is software typically use for operator controls, but only one piece of equipment, one machine. It is really just semantics. Because the capabilities of this advanced HMI changed so much, the vendors gave it a new name/acronym … SCADA. Just like when the capabilities of the PLC changed so much, the vendors gave it a new name … PAC.

The real and full control of equipment is done by PLCs/PACs/RTUs/BAS. The SCADA software just gives operators a limited control decided by both the SCADA programmer and the PLC programmer. A more accurate acronym for SCADA would be 'OCADA' for 'Operator' Control and Data Acquisition. But that name choice would have hurt sales of this very expensive software. :) It could have been really shortened to "OCD" (Operator Control Data), but that would have really hurt sales. Especially since the software vendors want you to keep repeating your payment for software, when you want to add more tags. (you can learn about tags/memory address names in our training course.)

One of the big features/functionality of SCADA data acquisition is for programmer to set up alarm points and record them. The PLC/HMI commonly have alarms set too, but seldom record history of alarms and other data due to memory limitations. As HMI software is running on a computer, it could be designed to record alarms too as there is plenty of memory, but then the vendor would call it SCADA. (So the vendor could charge you for using the memory in your computer. :)

The SCADA Basics course sampled above is from a maintenance perspective, not the operator's or programmer's. A maintenance person or industrial engineer may have to go into SCADA software and use predefined functions of the software to adjust or create alarm set points. These personnel may have to do minor programming too, like adding monitoring points and operator interfaces like device graphics and operator buttons. Of course maintenance will have to troubleshoot SCADA systems too. (The 'SCADA Systems' term as opposed to using the term "SCADA Software' is just another case of semantics.)

SCADA System
Term used to refer to plant/city where PLCs/PACs/RTUs/BAS perform the equipment full control, but a brand of SCADA software has been interfaced with them. IE: "That pump control is not in the in the SCADA system."

What is SCADA?

I'll leave you with this thought...
What if some day 'SCADA System' evolves to a PAC using standard HTML (web page) interface so it is a onetime purchase instead of an ongoing expense, where you have unlimited expandability and any webmaster can program it for you. The purchase price, maintenance cost and downtime cost would all be drastically reduced. (No more paying for new tags and additional memory either.) Hummm...

Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!