A SCADA state of mind...

I'm in Dallas today getting ready for a press event tomorrow at the Texas Motor Speedway. Citect, Schneider, and Graybar are holding a joint press event to show how Graybar can easily do your SCADA project, because Citect and Schneider have worked together to produce a unified product architecture from the PLC to the HMI. Long ago, in the really Dark Ages, around 1976 or so, I first got interested in SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Aquisition...yes, I know there are other translations for the acronym, like Automatic Data Aquisition, etc. but this is the one I first learned on). At the time, SCADA was remarkable in the same way that the dancing bear was, that is, it actually worked some of the time. Analog tone telemetry gave way to digital telemetry in the 1980s, and the advent of the PLC made it possible for system integrators to bypass the old, traditional SCADA manufacturers, most of whom promptly went broke. The original software HMI vendors all started making SCADA HMIs. Wonderware, Intellution, USData, Iconics, and Citect, among others...most now long gone. The idea was that an integrator could take a COTS PC, put HMI software on it, and either hardwire or radio telemetry gear, and go directly to COTS PLCs for the RTUs (Remote Telemetry Units). You see, none of these software vendors wanted to be in the hardware business. They had just managed to put a lot of hardware vendors out of business, and they were understandably wary. One by one, they got acquired by hardware merchants like Invensys, GE, Emerson, and so on. The two biggest independents left are Iconics and Citect. Neither of them has forgotten their roots. Citect, especially, is close to their SCADA beginnings, mostly because they are an Australian company, and nowhere do they do SCADA like they do in Australia. It isn't an accident that the Internet discussion list for SCADA engineering is hosted by Ian Weise in Australia. But you still had to have an integrator who knew a lot (really!!!) about both the SCADA software and whatever was being used as an RTU to be able to put a system together. Now, probably as a harbinger of the future, Citect and Schneider have partnered to provide a unified environment all the way from the PLC to the HMI. Citect's half is called SCADA V6, and Schneider's half is called Unity Pro. The interface, developed by Citect, is a product called FastLynx. It is certainly clear that this is the way of the future. Tomorrow I get to test drive CitectSCADA V6, and then I get one of those really cool perks that occasionally come the way of an editor. I get to drive a race equipped Chevrolet Corvette at the Texas Driving Experience. Way cool. Rich Merritt, who races on weekends still, is insanely jealous. So's my wife. Ah, well. Tomorrow I'll report on the testdrive. What? The Citect test drive, of course. What did you think I meant? Walt (grinning in anticipation)