SCADA vs IoT: the Role of SCADA Systems in Manufacturing’s Industry 4.0

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

The origin of SCADA:

Let us start from the beginning, the purpose behind the first solid-state SCADA system , which was introduced back in the ’60s, was to gather all the data and monitor the process via sluggish and expensive mainframe systems. It thereon paved the way for data logging technology. When it all began, the historians were introduced to do just that- store and then analyse the amount of data which was captured by the SCADA systems.

However, things have changed significantly now, with the advent of technology, we have 64bit computing, bulk configuration tools, and next-level graphical user interfaces (GUIs) a native to most SCADA products, and lastly, traditional barriers to entry no longer exist.

The question now arises, what will be the role of these process control systems as we prepare ourselves to enter the next phase of manufacturing?

Now let us talk about SCADA in the smart technology industry.

We all know that SCADA consists of an operator interface, and the features that make it act like this (like schematic visualisation, alarming, data logging, real-time control and the passing of data to data historians), will not be neglected by the IoT industry.

This leads to the realisation that edge computing will take over certain control features and help rationalise the amount of data we feed into the cloud over a certain period of time. However, the IIOT (Industrial Internet of Things) will not nullify the need and want to open and close valves, stop or star motors or resetting an actuator. Certainly not for the assets and processes which requires high-speed data collection and control.

One cannot make unfair comparisons between IIoT solely with Data Acquisition, and not mention Supervisory Control (SC) and the need for security, reliability, fast aggregation, and data storage.

Moreover, there are certain IoT communication protocols, for instance, AMQP and JSON, to name a few, that would need to be present with the support of the SC + DA elements via the IoT.

Now comes the 4th Generation SCADA: Embracing IoT

Some of the SCADA/Visualisation technologies have a tendency to behave not in line with the traditional SCADA / process Automation arena and have been acting like that for quite some time now. A thing once should notice is that the rate in which the connected devices are gathering, analysing and then exchanging data, the requirement of information transparency and interoperability has increased.

Furthermore, some of the progressive and hardware agnostic ISVs have always embraced, and they now support some of the key Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) protocols. With the help of the platforms, one can fulfil the role of a macro-level control and analytical tools which can easily bring IT and OT together.

So these tools act as secure IoT gateways (or Message Oriented Middleware (MOM)), they have the power to seamlessly integrate edge devices into single analytical view of the world, help remote configuration, open and secure connectivity methods like REST, MQTT, AMQP and OPC UA Pub-Sub are the key to fuelling this merged IoT architecture.

We all know that the heterogeneous nature of the factory paves the way for the IoT platforms which can easily unite and manage the nature of the industrial digital ecosystem.


We all are now surrounded and consumed with digitisation, and it is bringing about changes in the way manufacturers operate. For more than 20 years, the ‘Purdue model’ of Computer Integrated Manufacturing has been the undisputed king and acts as the foundation of how manufacturing systems are architected. Hence, the whole hierarchical nature is now slowly shifting as a peer-to-peer model as the IoT opens up.