By the numbers: HMI/SCADA in the cloud

Posted: May 06, 2024

Operations control professionals face a host of challenges, many of which aren’t exactly new. In some cases, they’ve faced these challenges since the advent of HMI and SCADA over three decades ago. While specific companies and sectors have slightly different needs, organizations often have more in common than they realize.

To bring clarity to this conversation, Control Engineering conducted a survey of operations control decision-makers, 70% of whom were process, control, or another type of engineer.[1] The survey results offer a fresh perspective on the problems operations control decision-makers face—and the tools they believe present the best chance of solving those problems.

For instance, the survey results underscored the difficulties organizations have with retaining knowledge: A jaw-dropping 70% of HMI/SCADA decision-makers say their companies experience staff turnover of up to 30% each quarter. Despite this alarming metric, survey respondents saw a clear solution to problems introduced by workforce shortages: 62% of respondents recognized that a knowledge base of operator-accessible videos and documents is important when choosing an HMI/SCADA vendor.

Operations control in the cloud: HMI/SCADA-as-a-service

HMI/SCADA decision-makers at discrete manufacturing, food and beverage, and other process production companies, as well as utilities, are at the forefront of adopting solutions that enable HMI/SCADA-as-a-service. Although 59% of decision-makers use or plan to use HMI/SCADA in the cloud within the next 2-5 years, they are not all satisfied with their current operations control solution.

Despite using cloud-connected HMI/SCADA, respondents showed a keen interest in enhancing information analysis (59%), anomaly detection and resolution (51%), and operational visualization (40%). Taken together, these statistics underscore another major theme the survey results elucidate—the power of HMI/SCADA-as-a-service to overcome obstacles to building operational resilience. 

Operations control in the cloud: HMI/SCADA-as-a-service

Operational resilience and bridging the labor gap

The survey results cast the difficulties to building operational resilience in a stark light. 60% of respondents stated that it can take their organization days or even weeks to return to normal operations, after a significant disruption has occurred. This underscores the importance of bolstering operational resilience through the advanced monitoring, predictive maintenance, and rapid response mechanisms cloud-based operations control solutions offer. Especially in light of an impending shortage of skilled labor—and the disruptions to continuous improvement frequent workforce turnover causes—HMI/SCADA-as-a-service as a bulwark against sliding efficiency metrics and offers a lifeline for enabling knowledge retention and seamless onboarding for new hires, thereby mitigating the impact of workforce churn on operational continuity.

HMI/SCADA’s bright future

Taken as a whole, the survey results suggest that, despite persistent challenges, operations control decision-makers remain optimistic. While they are acutely aware of the need to adapt to recent computing trends and upskill their workforce to meet the demands of tomorrow, they feel confident that cloud-based solutions are a beacon of hope, offering scalability, agility, and resilience in an increasingly dynamic environment.

The journey towards the next frontier of HMI/SCADA is well underway, driven by a collective resolve to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities. Operations control decision-makers have charted a course for tomorrow. It’s a future where yesterday’s vision for efficiency, innovation, and adaptability has become a reality. 


Read Control Engineering’s “The changing state of HMI/SCADA: Now and beyond.” See the complete research now.  

[1] CFE Media. “The changing state of HMI/SCADA: Now and beyond.” 2024. AVEVA-commissioned survey. 

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