Beyond SCADA – The Art of the Possible

By ITI Group
schedule7th Aug 23

As a Digital Manufacturing Solutions and Services provider with a collective experience of working with a variety of technology platforms, we at Cimlogic (part of the ITI Group) are in the position to select the right state-of-the-art technology to solve unique business challenges.  

In a typical manufacturing environment, there are numerous moving pieces and systems. These systems span the organisation’s technological landscape, from business-level systems like ERP and logistics to real-time systems such as MES, WMS, QMS, and control devices like HMI, SCADA, DCS, and various sensors and instruments. All these systems must work in harmony. 

When people think of these manufacturing information systems, they often envisage monolithic, comprehensive, and hard to implement software platforms. However, at its core, these manufacturing solutions are just a combination of a series of data-handling functions designed to collect, manage, and interoperate vast amounts of information. There’s no reason why you can’t create vertical solutions to solve your specific business problems while ensuring that it integrates seamlessly with the other business and control systems. One platform that consistently stands out is Ignition® by Inductive Automation. While many perceive Ignition® as merely a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) platform, our experience has shown that it offers much more. It can interact with almost all levels of technology in your organisation, customised to whatever makes sense for you – this is where Ignition® truly shines. 

This post aims to shed light on the “art of the possible”, demonstrating the potential benefits of a modern SCADA platform integrated by the right technology partner. 

Flexible to your needs  

A modern SCADA system provides flexibility to collect data, manage execution and interface with users and systems, with a high level of integration and customisation. Let’s consider a few examples: 

  • Planning and Simulation: Collecting and historicising contextualised production information is critical to plan, simulate and optimise manufacturing operations. Most manufacturing processes are governed by various complexities of planning; one area where we often see significant returns on investment is among our food and beverage customers, who frequently need to coordinate complex scheduling tasks to accommodate near real-time changes in sales demands, availability of inputs, and to minimise excess production. A modern SCADA platform can perform that role and integrate with ERP and Advanced Planning and Scheduling systems to ensure that production schedules align with business needs. More than that, they can use the critical information to enable true digital twins, simulating different scenarios and optimising operational parameters.  
  • Workflow: Managing work orders and complementary tasks like quality checks, maintenance and cleaning enables real-time operations tracking, ensuring that materials, labour, and equipment are available when needed. A modern SCADA platform is well positioned to provide a single user interface for the operators, not only for control purposes but also to include these capabilities, simplifying the adoption and interoperability with other manufacturing systems.  One of the areas where we often see these needs is with pharmaceutical clients, where work in progress is held up due to resource and regulatory constraints, and multiple parallel activities are required to be handled. Given the unique nature of pharmaceutical processes, using a build-to-suit solution ensures we’re not trying to configure a circle into a square, but rather build a square around a square to meet operational requirements.   
  • Performance: Understanding how the operations are performing is a crucial process to enable continual improvement for enhanced productivity and quality. By collecting and analysing data from across your operations, a modern SCADA platform can provide insights into machine downtime, performance, and quality. This can be used to calculate key metrics like Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF), Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) and Total Effective Equipment Performance (TEEP). This data can be used to identify areas for improvement, monitor the impact of changes and integrate with other manufacturing systems.  
  • Sustainability: Meeting sustainability goals requires the monitoring of energy and other utilities usage, as well as emissions, in real-time, to identify inefficiencies and opportunities for reductions across all operations, ultimately leading to significant cost savings. In a manufacturing scenario it’s unlikely to get meaningful results unless you also consider contextual information, such as production counts, products manufactured, and assets used. A modern SCADA platform can provide an integrated sustainability solution that helps define incremental targets (e.g., year by year, week by week) to achieve the final goal (i.e., carbon reduction). These targets are set based on historical best practices, with the ability to track actual KPI metrics and progress against those targets. This enables alerting for exceptional conditions and helps prioritise energy-efficient operational strategies as well as adhering to regulatory requirements and ESG aspirations.  
  • Traceability and Compliance: Enabling comprehensive manufacturing traceability; tracking products from raw materials to finished goods. This has proved to be valuable to our clients, such as food and beverages and automotive suppliers, where stringent regulations require detailed record-keeping. A typical use case is the tracking of materials consumed in the production process. Recipe management and automated data collection in a modern SCADA platform are the key foundation for extracting and managing this critical information. From raw materials sourced from typically numerous suppliers to the production/assembly line, the specific inputs to each good can be traced back to its origin to quickly identify issues.  
  • Analytics and AI: Leveraging relevant and trusted data, ready to be consumed. As Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence become omnipresent in all sectors, data is probably the most valuable asset you can have. All the data collected and managed in a modern SCADA platform can be leveraged to integrate with cloud-based infrastructure or be the foundation for an edge or on-premise solution. Considering the topics mentioned above, this will enable use cases like predictive maintenance, quality inspection, and batch pre-release. 

A unique approach to Operational Technology projects   

At Cimlogic we utilise a client-centric methodology called RAISE™ that offers a robust framework that can greatly benefit a manufacturing company looking to implement a new digital technology solution. We do this upfront to help our clients achieve their operational and business goals. 

Our people have expertise in controls, electrical, and software engineering to ensure a successful outcome. We understand the plant floor and full manufacturing enterprise; coupled with best practice knowledge of digital manufacturing technology (including PLC, SCADA, MES, QMS, CMMS, APS, IIoT, Simulation/Digital Twins, AI/ML) and methodologies that we can bring together to solve unique challenges with unique solutions. 

Technology solutions need to be maintainable, reliable, and scalable to other facilities, so we work closely with your operations, R&D, and IT teams to ensure these goals are met. Backed by a well-established 24/7 support service offering across many industries, including nuclear, energy, and diverse industries. 

To learn more about RAISE™, visit our website 

Your Technology Partner for Digital Transformation  

By thinking outside the box and leveraging the full potential of a modern SCADA platform, manufacturers can solve complex problems, optimise their operations, and drive innovation. 

At Cimlogic, we’ve seen firsthand the transformative impact that a modern SCADA system can have on a manufacturing operation – proving to be versatile and capable of solving countless problems. We’ve helped clients leverage SCADA in ways they never thought possible, by utilising our RAISE processes to target specific business challenges and apply the correct tools to address them. 

So, when thinking about replacing your existing SCADA platform, think of a platform that can touch almost every level of technology in your organisation, customised to solve your specific business problems. Think about the art of the possible. Whether you’re looking to optimise your existing processes or embark on a Digital Transformation journey, a modern SCADA platform such as Ignition® can offer a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective solution.  

If you’re interested in exploring what’s possible with Cimlogic, contact us today at [email protected] or Tel: +44(0)1274 599955.  

About ITI Group 

ITI Group develops and integrates digital transformation solutions for Energy, Nuclear and Industrial manufacturing sectors. Through digital technology, industrial automation and increased safety and security, ITI Group helps clients achieve tangible business value from innovative, intelligent solutions. 

For over 50 years, ITI has been a trusted partner in the design, build and implementation of robust, reliable, and future-proof SCADA systems, enabling connectivity and real-time data intelligence to enhance the operations and processes that they serve. 

To learn more, visit the ITI Group website 

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