SCADA Controls Integration Terminology

We’ve included a glossary of terms and acronyms used in controls integrations for your information.

Actuators – Components that are responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or a system. They require a source of energy which can be an electric voltage or signal triggered by an electrical system. There are many types of actuators that can do things like control pumps, lights, motors, valves, and many other things.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – A genre of computer science in which non-human machines demonstrate some form of intelligence. You can think of this as computers being able to take actions to achieve a goal based on their perceived environment.

AIoT – A term used to describe AI in conjunction with the IoT. This is often used when thinking about IoT in an analytics and data collection construct.

Anomaly Detection – The identification of outliers or unexpected items or events in data sets. Machine learning algorithms are often trained to do this.

Application Programming Interfaces (API) – A set of functions or procedures that allow one application to access / interact with the features or data of another application or service.

Asset Monitoring – The process of monitoring all activity associated with a particular machine. Including but not limited to production, performance, quality, health, etc.

Automation – Process of performing a procedure or action without human assistance. It’s often referred to in an industrial context via control systems for machinery or processes in factories.

Big Data – A very large data set that can be analyzed for patterns and trends.

Cloud Computing – Computer software, systems, and services that run on the internet without direct management by a user, rather than on a computer.

Condition Monitoring (CM) – An aspect of predictive maintenance, condition monitoring refers to the process of monitoring an aspect of a machine to collect data that can indicate any significant changes that could lead to a breakdown or fault.

Connectivity – The means of connecting something to the internet. There are various methods including WiFi, Ethernet, etc.

Cybersecurity – Any method used to maintain a safe online presence. It includes passwords, two-factor authentication, user permissions, etc.

Dashboard – Any software based tool that can show a data set in a way that is simplified and easily interpreted by the user. Typically, it shows charts, graphs, controls, and other data visualizations.

Data-driven decision management (DDM) – The process of collecting and analyzing relevant information to make business choices based on the insights gathered.

Deep Learning – Deep learning uses learning algorithms called neural networks to process information. This enables computers to identify patterns in data and define relationships between complex systems of inputs and outputs, among other tasks. Can be supervised, semi-supervised, or unsupervised.

Digital Transformation – The process of using technology to change or create new methods of doing tasks.

Digital Twin – Virtual model of physical assets, processes, systems, or devices that shows both the elements and dynamics of how things work.

Edge Computing – Edge computing consists of computing that occurs outside of the cloud in applications where real-time data is being monitored or collected.

Edge Device – Hardware that is controlling the flow of data between networks. For example, an edge device is a sensor which sends readings to a gateway device where it is analyzed and processed before it is sent to the cloud.

Embedded Systems – A controller that has its own dedicated function within a larger system that is entrenched inside a complete device. These systems are often based on microcontrollers.

Ethernet IP – One of the manufacturing communication protocols used for transmitting information between electronic devices.

Equipment Monitoring – The process of collecting and analyzing data on a part of a machine or a piece of equipment. Often used for predictive maintenance and preventing downtime.

Fog Computing – Fog computing is a decentralized computing infrastructure in which data, compute, storage and applications are located somewhere between the data source and the cloud. Like edge computing, fog computing brings the advantages and power of the cloud closer to where data is created and acted upon.

Gateway Device – A piece of hardware that acts as an access point between two networks.

Hardware Agnostic – Software systems that do not require specific proprietary devices in order to be deployed. Many IoT software platforms are only compatible with hardware that they make specifically for their own systems.

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) – The underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web. HTTP defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) – A framework of business processes, policies, and technologies that manage digital identities (for e.g. used for authentication and access management).

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – A network of intelligent devices connected to form systems that monitor, collect, exchange and analyze data.

Industry 4.0 – The transformation of industry through the intelligent networking of machines and processes with the help of information and communication technology (ICT). The term is used interchangeably with the “fourth industrial revolution” in industry.

Information Technology (IT) – Any software that is used to run and/or optimize operation technology devices used within a process.

Interoperability – The ability of different systems and devices to seamlessly work together in a coordinated manner.

Internet of Things (I0T) – Any system with the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human interaction.

Machine to Machine Communication (M2M) – Direct communications between machines using any channel. Can include industrial instrumentation, signaling, telemetry, and more.

Machine Learning (ML) – Machine learning is a subset of AI in which machines can be trained to take data and ‘learn’ things about it for themselves rather than coding the machine to do a task. It’s about pattern recognition – machine learning technology can allow a system to make predictions based on the patterns and data it receives.

Mesh Networking – With mesh networking, all of the devices in the network can communicate with each other, rather than having to connect with one central hub. This makes the size and area of the network virtually unlimited, which is why it is so useful for industrial IoT operations like large connected sensor networks.

Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) – A messaging protocol that works on top of TCP/IP. Designed for use cases with a low code footprint or limited network bandwidth.

Microcontroller – Microcontrollers can be thought of as tiny computers that can be added to any physical object or space to give it a ‘brain’. They contain one or more computer processors, along with memory and programmable input/output peripherals – all in a single integrated circuit.

Modbus – Modbus is an open, non-proprietary communications protocol that enables machines to communicate and coordinate with each other by passing information in a standardized way.

Neural Network (Neural Net) – A learning algorithm used to model complex relationships between inputs and outputs, to find patterns in data, or to capture the statistical structure in an unknown probability distribution between observed variables.

Open Architecture – A technology infrastructure with specifications that are public as opposed to proprietary. This includes officially approved standards as well as privately designed architectures, the specifications of which are made public by their designers.

Open Source Software (OSS) – Software that is distributed with its source code, making it available for use, modification, and distribution with its original rights.

Operational intelligence – A category of real-time, dynamic business analytics that delivers visibility and insight into data, streaming events, and business operations.

Operations Technology (OT)  – Any physical hardware that drives or measures a process.

Process Optimization – The discipline of adjusting a process so as to make the best or most effective use of some specified set of parameters without violating some constraint.

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) – Solid-state, electronic devices that control the operation of a machine or process. They use logic functions, that are programmed into their memory via programming software.

Predictive Maintenance (PM) – Monitoring the performance of machines during normal operation to reduce the likelihood of failures. The data collected will help determine when a machine is operating outside of normal behavior, thus allowing maintenance to happen before it breaks down.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) – A wireless communication technology that uses radio frequency to power passive tags (small circuit antenna) to uniquely identify people or objects.

Role Based Access Control (RBAC) – The process of restricting system access to authorized users for security purposes. This also includes applications that allow users to have certain permissions relative to their roles as well as restrictions.

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) – A hardware and software system for monitoring and controlling a factory or industrial equipment.

Software Development Kit (SDK) – A collection of libraries, tools, documentation, processes, code samples, and/or more that allow users to create software applications on a given platform.

Sensors – Electronic components whose purpose is to detect events or changes in their physical environments and send that information via electrical signal to other electronics, usually a computer processor.

Sensor Data – The output of a device that detects and responds to some type of input from the physical environment. The output may be used to provide information or input to another system, or to guide a process.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) – An internet standard communication protocol for electronic mail transmission. Mail servers and other message transfer agents use SMTP to send and receive mail messages.

Streaming Data – Data that is continuously generated by different sources.

Time-Series Data – Data that collectively represents how a system, process, or behavior changes over time.

Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol – A set of standardized rules that allow computers to communicate on a network such as the internet.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) – An encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network.



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