An industrial control system is any collection of hardware, software and related mechanical and digital components that monitor and control an industrial processing or manufacturing system. Plants, factories and other systems run by automated functions require industrial motion control for their operation. Understanding the components of these systems begins with a basic knowledge of industrial controls key terms.
This guide will take you through the three primary elements of automated processes, including the oversight systems and the individual programmable controllers. The next time you sit down at an industrial control panel, you'll know these terms, what they mean and how they work together to form a cohesive system:
1. Find out about SCADA, which encompasses all industrial control equipment in a system.
2. Learn about the industrial control distributors referred to as DCS.
3. Know about the individuals of industrial processes, the PLCs.
Get to know SCADA, the central network of industrial control systemsThe term SCADA refers to supervisory data control and acquisition; it applies to the entirety of the central system for a processing or manufacturing plant. SCADA includes both the hardware and the software that run the operation. Usually, the whole system receives monitoring through an industrial control panel called a human machine interface (HMI). SCADA can be a widespread system, comprising many individual buildings or even regions.
Acquaint yourself with DCS, overseer of your industrial control equipmentDCS is a term that stands for distributed control system. A DCS usually runs a utility or processing system, such as gas, electrical and water utilities and chemical or food processing systems; they also handle automotive plants. DCSs are similar to SCADA in form and function - for instance, both are usually operated through industrial control panels - but a DCS has more confined boundaries with regard to area; usually it is within a single building or complex.
Learn about the individual industrial control components in your system - the PLCsA PLC is any individual computer-based device that controls industrial processes; the term means programmable logic controller. A PLC is simply the unit that manages a particular machine tool in a process; it has input and output ports for the transmitting of data between the central system and the individual equipment. These industrial control products are used within DCSs to keep track of the operation and signals of all the machinery within a plant.
- Although typically, these components integrate in a certain way - SCADA oversees DCSs, which in turn control PLCs - this is not a hard and fast rule. Your business might be organized a little differently, or may not even have all three industrial controls.