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Difference between PLC,DCS & SCADA

In the past the strength and weakness of both the automation technologies were
well understood. So it was easy for engineers to select the one that suits their
application, but now due to the advent of microprocessors both the technologies are
merging.The requirements which are thought to be exclusive to one technology can
be found in the other one too.But still there are some things which are to be
checked out before selecting the one that suits your application the best.
Now a days you cannot really tell the difference between a PLC or a DCS. Since the
PLC was integrated with Analog I/O it crosses the boundary of being just digital and
crosses to the realm of DCS in handling Analogs, Bus Systems, Distributed I/O and
etc. Also, since the DCS now handles logics of Digital I/O it also crossed the
boundary to the realm of PLC.
As you know PLC as to its name Programmable Logic Controller. Its main purpose is
to replace the relay logic controls which is "On" or "Off". And DCS "Distributed
Control Systems" its emphasis is Fast analog handling because of communications
through Bus systems, networking and etc.
Summarizing all these, PLC = DCS......BUT still there are basic differences as below
PLC is a programmable Logic controller which is used mainly for interlocking
different equipments.PLC using for perticular mechine or production unit.PLC is
economicaly low cost.PLC'S can handle analog and digital I/O as earliear it could
handle only digital.PLC'S are automatic controllers which is a substitute to hard
wired controllers.they are extensively used for automation.PLC is for stand alone
sytem.PLC is used Commonly with On\Off (Digital) Control and may be expanded
with Analog I\O Modules for Analog Control and used for a control task.
Programmable Logic Controller

DCS: DISTRIBUTED CONTROL SYSTEMS: THIS SYSTEM DOES WHAT A


PLC WOULD DO, BUT THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT A DCS IS USED IN
MUCH LARGER AND COMPLEX APPLICATION E.G: POWER GENERATION,
SOME COLD ROLLING MILLS etc.
DCS is the System in which controller are distributed geographically and integrated
all the control hardwares .which is connected from the various field devices .DCS
having its own network, Controller and HMI etc.Honeywell, Yokogawa, Invensys,
ABB, Emerson are the leading .DCS Vendors.DCS is the System in which controller
are distributed geographically and integrated all the control hardwares which is
connected from the various field devices.DCS having its own network, Controller

and HMI etcHoneywell, Yokogawa, Invensys, ABB, Emerson are the leading DCS
Vendors
Distributed Controller System
If taken from a narrow point of view, maybe PLC and DCS are functionally the same.
However, a lot of plant technicians and engineers are not aware of the other side of
the debate, namely the engineering effort and the commercial ramifications. Of
course, for huge plants with I/O's ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 I/O points, and
beyond, it is silly to even think about PLC. From my experience, a DCS is not the
same with PLC in the realm of huge systems such as oil and gas plants, as the
following list will show:
1. A PLC is cost-effective up to a certain I/O count, and so is the DCS. But the
difference is in their starting points: the PLC is cost-effective from 0 to a few
thousand I/O points; the DCS becomes cost-effective starting from a few thousand
points and beyond.
2. A PLC becomes a subsystem of the DCS in rare occasions when the situation calls
for it, i.e., purchase of huge package systems with engineering schedules
incompatible with the DCS schedule (I/O lists cannot be submitted on time before
the DCS hardware freeze date). Note that this package system is a process system
using continuous control, not discrete. Based on this, a PLC can never be larger than
a DCS in terms of I/O count.
3. In large plants the DCS is king because most owners want a single source of
hardware support and service, and this mentality naturally denies the PLC a
foothold. Package vendors are no longer required to provide PLC for their system.
Everything is connected to the DCS.
SCADA: AS ALREADY EXPLAINED, IT NOTHING BUT A SOFTWARE USED
TO GATHER DATA FROM THE FIELDS INSTRUMENTS WITH THE HELP OF
YOUR DCS OR PLC DEPENDING ON THE APPLICATION VIA THE SERVER
AND MAKING IT AVAILABLE IN AN ANIMATED FORM. THIS IS
USUALLY FOUND IN YOUR CONTROL ROOMS AND DEVELOPMENT ROOM
SCADA
SCADA is the Software tool in which you can able to view/Monitor/Control your
Process Variable data and Graphical representation of your plant etc...It's an
operator front end display Example of few SCADA S/W is Wonderware, IFix, RS View,
WinCC etc
SCADA is Supervisory Control and Data Aquisition which is used to control and

Monitor small number of Equipments in a field.SCADA systems are typically used to


perform data collection and control at the supervisory level. Some systems are
called SCADA despite only performing data acquisition and not control.The
supervisory control system is a system that is placed on top of a real-time control
system to control a process that is external to the
SCADA system (i.e. a computer, by itself, is not a SCADA system even though it
controls its own power consumption and cooling). This implies that the system is not
critical to control the process in real time, as there is a separate or integrated realtime automated control system that can respond quickly enough to compensate for
process changes within the time constants of the process
SCADA is the Software tool in which you can able to
view/Monitor/Control your Process Variable data and
Graphical representation of your plant etc...
It's an operator front end display
Example of few SCADA S/W is Wonderware, IFix, RS View,
WinCC etc
IN SHORT!
PLC:
in manufacturing processes(for production of things)
for simple batch control
intensive logic controls
can handle a no. of I/O s at a time
downtime => lost production
usually,no need of redundancy
fast logic scan(=reading I/Ps executing instructions and providing O/Ps)
compact
easily customised
for smaller applications
DCS:
in process control (for production of stuff)
for complex batch control
advanced analog loop controls
downtime=>lost production+damage to process equipment+ may lead to
dangerous conditions
so Redundancy must
large in size
cant be easily customised
for larger applications and plant-wide