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1 WHAT DOES SCADA MEAN? SCADA stands for Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition. As the name indicates, it is not a full control system, but rather focuses on the supervisory level. As such, it is a purely software package that is positioned on top of hardware to which it is interfaced, in general via Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), or other commercial hardware modules.
Abstract SCADA systems are widely used in industry for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition of industrial processes. Companies that are members of standardisation committees (e.g. OPC, OLE for Process Control) and are thus setting the trends in matters of IT technologies generally develop these systems. As a matter of fact, they are now also penetrating the experimental physics laboratories for the controls of ancillary systems such as cooling, ventilation, power distribution, etc. More recently they were also applied for the controls of smaller size particle detectors such as the L3 muon detector and the NA48 experiment, to name just two examples at CERN. SCADA systems have made substantial progress over the recent years in terms of functionality, scalability, performance and openness such that they are an alternative to in house development even for very demanding and complex control systems as those of physics experiments. This paper describes SCADA systems in terms of their architecture, their interface to the process hardware, the functionality and application development facilities they provide. Some attention is paid to the industrial standards to which they abide, their planned evolution as well as the potential benefits of their use.
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