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The Differences Between DCS and SCADA

When automating manufacturing processes, both a distributed control system (DCS) and a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system are essential for a comprehensive automation platform. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at each, clarify their differences, and explore how they can be used to elevate operational efficiency at every stage of the production process.

The Fundamentals of Distributed Control Systems

Distributed control systems are process-oriented platforms that rely on a network of interconnected sensors, controllers, terminals, and actuators to act as a centralized master controller for all of a facility’s production operations. Thus, a DCS focuses on controlling and monitoring processes and providing facility operators with the ability to see all facility operations in one place. At the same time, a DCS allows you to implement more advanced process automation strategies because it operates on a closed loop control platform. That makes DCSs ideal for controlling operations at a single facility or factory. Ultimately, a DCS is critical for maximizing the visibility of a facility’s day-to-day operational processes.

Understanding SCADA Systems

While a DCS emphasizes process-level operations, a SCADA is event-driven and prioritizes data gathering. A DCS delivers data to operators, and at the same time, a SCADA concentrates on the acquisition of that data. SCADA systems are also more scalable and flexible, so they can be used to collect data from a single factory or a dozen without geographical restrictions. That makes a SCADA solution ideal for organization’s that want to deploy remote monitoring platform. In short, a SCADA is geared towards understanding and collecting data on processes, while a DCS emphasizes process control.

Better Together

The purpose of this post is not to argue that one system is better than the other. In fact, both are necessary if you want to take advantage of the latest in Industry 4.0 technology. Today, many DCS solutions integrate SCADA systems into their operations to form a unified whole. While SCADA and DCS platforms started as distinct operations, they’re now merging to create a singular supervisory system for all of your facility’s needs.

In Summary

SCADA Systems

SCADA systems are:

  • Data-oriented
  • Event-driven
  • Scalable and flexible

DCS Platforms

On the other hands, DCS solutions are:

  • Process-oriented
  • Focused on central control
  • Ideal for one facility

Your Automation Experts

Whether you’re looking to automate your operations for the first time, or you’re in the process of refining your automation platforms, the experts at HEXA are here to help. We take the time to understand your operations from the inside out, so we can develop a customized automation solution around your needs. With HEXA, you can elevate your mission-critical operations for continual improvement that prepares you for tomorrow while driving growth today.