The smart factory market is projected to grow from a $75 billion industry in 2018
to an over $155 billion one by 2025. New intelligent industrial solutions are
shaking up the industrial and manufacturing markets and prompting companies
to re-evaluate their existing systems, such as SCADA. The question for many industrial
organizations, as they look to keep pace with current market trends and modern
technology, is how will emerging “smart” IIoT solutions affect what they’ve already
got in place – will they enhance it, compete with it, or completely replace it?

SCADA

Many of these “existing systems” are SCADA systems. SCADA or Supervisory
Control and Data Acquisition – is made up of a set of hardware and software
elements that allow industrial organizations to control industrial processes (locally
or remotely); monitor, gather, and process data; and evaluate data via machine-to-
human graphical interfaces. Essentially these systems allow factory supervisors,
floor managers, and top brass to better evaluate the efficacy of their processes,
mitigate waste, and save valuable time and money in the day-to-day operations of
their facilities.

This nearly-40-year old model based on proprietary vendor systems is under pressure from new technologies – specifically IIoT, a.k.a. Industry 4.0.

IIoT

Advancements in sensor and IoT technology have made “smart” systems
particularly relevant for the industrial market. IIoT connects the various sensors
used in industrial settings – things like thermometers, viscosity meters, pressure
gauges, and so forth – through a standard Internet Protocol (IP), so they can
communicate with each other and compare and analyze the data they collect to
provide richer insights. Rather than the machine-to-human workflow of SCADA,
IIoT’s directive is machine-to-machine.

Comparison Chart

The differences of these types of systems are pretty easy to define, but what do they mean for industrial organizations? To provide more clarity, we’ve created this handy reference guide:

SCADA IIoT
Scalability SCADA systems are harder to scale than IIoT. Connecting EVERY aspect of a SCADA system can be cost prohibitive. And scaling up bandwidth as users increase can pose problems for system performance and security. IIoT is inherently connected, so there’s no retrofitting or manual connecting of components needed. And because IIoT is cloud- enabled, it’s much easier to scale up or down as user numbers change.
Interoperability SCADA systems are often made up of disparate components, and those that were not manufactured by the same company are notoriously hard to integrate. Even when created by distinct manufacturers, IIoT devices use common protocols (e.g. MQTT) that enable platforms to easily integrate and communicate with one another.
Data Storage SCADA systems are limited in their storage capacities. Historical data is often not preserved for future/ongoing analysis because servers simply lack the bandwidth. Additionally, as more components are added and more data is captured, SCADA-enabled companies have to invest in extra servers with higher capacities, which can become a heavy financial burden. IIoT devices store data in the cloud, eliminating the pressure for organizations to invest in higher-capacity servers in order to keep historical data. Cloud-based data storage also adds another layer of security, as public cloud providers often have more rigorous security standards than most SCADA systems.
Data Analysis The data from SCADA systems is mainly for day- to-day use within the operations of an industrial plant. As noted above, the challenge with long-term data storage makes trend analysis, predictions and deeper analysis nearly impossible. IIoT systems can use machine learning to predict outcomes and preemptively make scheduling and hardware adjustments. This data can be integrated into other enterprise software/systems to optimize performance. Multiple locations/plants can be analyzed and aggregated, as the data is in the Cloud, enabling management across sites.
Modernization As more components are added to a SCADA system – sometimes over the course of decades – the system can become brittle and unwieldy. This stifles an organization’s ability to be agile and innovative. IIoT makes modernizing a system much easier – enabling rapid prototyping, testing and innovation within an existing infrastructure (without the risk of breaking anything else).

What does the future look like for SCADA and IIoT?

It’s difficult to say whether IIoT will eventually replace SCADA or simply integrate within existing infrastructures, enhancing data collection, analysis, and interoperability. There are organizations that are bridging the gap between SCADA systems and IIoT, such as IO-Link. In other cases, manufacturers are scrapping legacy SCADA and rebuilding from the ground up with new IIoT technologies. Regardless, it is clear that the benefits of IIoT/Industry 4.0 generating dramatic shifts in all types of manufacturing today.

If your organization is interested in exploring how IIoT might benefit your industrial operations, let’s connect. DevIQ is a pioneer in IoT Ecosystem design and IoT- enabled solutions for the discrete manufacturing, retail, and services industries. We’d love to learn more about your project and see how our expertise might help bring your concept to reality.


James Shelby blog author Dev IQ

James Shelby

CTO, multiple patent holder, & flip-phone collector.