As manufacturers work to adopt smart manufacturing, they are making decisions about what technology to add or replace on the shop floor. The most common question we get from customers on this journey to data-driven decision making is centered around how a SCADA system fits into the picture.

SCADA systems were developed 50 years ago to monitor and control industrial processes. Over time they have evolved but their primary purpose is to collect, process and display production data. They serve that purpose well – allowing manufacturers to monitor and react to real-time events to ensure production systems and processes are running as planned.

However, SCADA has some limitations when it comes to enabling smart manufacturing. While users can manually code additional functions, SCADA simply can’t go far enough to allow for a free flow of data that rapidly feeds cloud and enterprise systems, applications, and runs machine learning models at the edge. With a great deal of custom code and add-on solutions, SCADA can accomplish some basic smart manufacturing goals, but the result will likely be time-intensive, expensive, and require a lot of SCADA expertise most companies just don’t have in-house anymore.

Enter Industrial IoT – will it replace SCADA? No, SCADA is critical for monitoring production. However, IIoT platforms bring new technology to the table to connect to any industrial asset and harness data intelligence for learnings and predictions that improve operations. IIoT platforms are built for smart manufacturing – by normalizing data, adding analytics at the edge, sending data to any cloud or enterprise system, feeding machine learning models, and closing the loop for advanced learning and predictions.

The good news is these two systems can, and should, work together. With a SCADA system already in place, it is easy to add an IIoT platform that is flexible, scalable and future-proof for advanced use cases to take the shop floor to the next level. Manufacturers can continue to use a SCADA system and deploy an IIoT plaform to unify, analyze and share OT data.

The question becomes a bit more complicated when the customer doesn’t yet have a SCADA system or an IIoT platform. In that case it is important to look at the end goal. If the goal is to look at trends and perform analytics, an IIoT platform will get there faster. Deploying a SCADA is more resource intensive but can be added later if needed for additional control and alarming.

Want to learn more about the difference in the capabilities of a SCADA system versus an IIoT platform and how they best work together to enable smart manufacturing? Watch the webinar replay or download the guide today.