Maintenance Q&As

Will Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) replace SCADA?

Answered May 11 2019

I honestly don’t see IIoT ever replacing SCADA. If it does happen, it will probably take a long while, mainly because it would involve uprooting one well-established system in favor of installing another. Given the costs plants already face implementing SCADA, let alone replacing it, I don’t see that happening very quickly, if at all.

Not Likely

The one exception where this might occur (and that’s a big might) is in small businesses who don’t currently use a SCADA system due to the high cost of implementation. If an IIoT solution could somehow bypass the need for a supervisory control and data acquisition system, it might be easier for SMBs to implement that instead, particularly if it’s cloud based.

But really, I think the more likely scenario is that SCADA will evolve to incorporate IIoT. In fact, we already see companies doing just that.

Growth and Evolution of SCADA

For example, Mitsubishi is creating a cloud-hosted SCADA system for their vehicles. Other companies are working on upgrading their existing SCADA solutions to be compatible with modern IIoT technologies as well. Overall, the focus has been on enhancing what’s already there rather than creating something entirely new.

We also have market research that states that the industrial control systems market—which includes SCADA—is projected to reach $181.6 billion by 2024. With that kind of growth, it’s not likely going to go anywhere.

Roles of IIoT and SCADA

There’s also the matter of their roles. Ultimately, IIoT is something that’s built on top of SCADA. Both rely on sensors that collect data from assets. The main difference is SCADA is designed to help personnel interface with their machines, whereas IIoT is designed more to allow communication between devices. Industrial IoT does have applications beyond the factory floor, but that doesn’t mean it will totally replace SCADA systems.

Now, it’s true that outdated SCADA software will probably be replaced in the future (again, gradually, due to costs), but SCADA itself is likely to remain a long-standing staple in plant management.

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