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I/O products with higher physical protection, for example to IP67, the bit-modular (slice) I/O module concept, wireless technology and I/O link technology have all been introduced first by third-parties who have consequently driven the introduction of new features and additional functionality across the market as a whole. Most third-parties have used their expertise as terminal block manufacturers or smaller specialist I/O suppliers to develop their products further and, hence, gain advantage when selling I/O modules as components to customers. In addition, they have benefited from the continuing development of open fieldbus networks and distributed solutions. That is in direct contrast to the established vendors, who have been more inclined to encourage customers to purchase integrated solutions from a single source that takes responsibility for ensuring compatibility between the components in the automation system and for resolving any problems that arise. This strategy, says IMS, seems to be their most effective means of protecting their market share. Increased competition between third-party and traditional suppliers has, it concludes, not only driven the introduction of new features and functionality, but has also driven down prices. However, both types of supplier will, it suggests, continue to coexist in the market for the foreseeable future.
The global low-voltage motor drive market continues to exceed all expectations, according to early indications from IMS Research that growth in 2007 continued at double digit rates and, in some regions, even surpassed the levels seen in 2006. While EMEA continued at a similar rate to 2006, growing by some 15% over the previous year, the Americas and Asia Pacific grew faster than the previous year. In the U.S., growth was better than 15% and in Asia Pacific more than 25%. “Motor drives continue to provide decision-makers with an effective way to manage their long-term energy costs, as well as significantly bringing down the total cost of ownership for a majority of the motors used by industry,” said IMS motor drives analyst Alex Chausovsky.
The worldwide market for radar level devices is set to grow at 5.9% compound over the next five years from $316m in 2007 to $421m in 2012, according to ARC’s newly published “Radar Level Devices Worldwide Outlook.”
“Radar level measurement technology has advanced significantly and is more broadly applicable in a number of difficult level measurement applications, such as bulk solids,” explains analyst and report author Allen Avery. “Increased accuracy, along with easy installation and a low maintenance profile, even when applied in harsh process environments, have helped radar level devices enjoy greater acceptance among users, making it one of the fastest growing level measurement technologies.”
While substantial increases in shipments to the chemical and marine segments are the major contributors to growth, sectors such food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and water and wastewater have all seen double-digit increases in shipments in recent years. And while non-contact or microwave radar devices still account for the majority of shipments, guided wave radar continues to see strong growth because it meets process industry requirements for loop power, low cost, applicability to liquids and bulk solids and interface detection.
Wurldtech Security Technologies, the Vancouver-based process automation cyber-security specialist established in 2006, has launched what it claims to be the first cyber-security vulnerability database for industrial control systems. Known as Delphi, it is designed to provide vendors, operators, system integrators and service providers with new levels of visibility into the reliability, safety and security of systems and networks supporting critical infrastructure. “We understand the unique security challenges facing the industrial automation industry today, particularly when attempting to address the issue of securing legacy industrial control systems,” explained Wurldtech president and CEO Tyler Williams, who described Delphi as a tool to “help our customers accurately identify real risks and make better-informed decisions to protect their industrial operations.”
Delphi is designed to address the shortcomings of the current situation in which security solutions for legacy industrial control systems are delivered through a small number of companies and through disparate commercial products from different vendors which lack integration and interoperability. This results in unnecessary complexity, increased operational costs, limited visibility and a reliance on inappropriate data in making critical security decisions. In consequence, the company claims, most industrial organizations have a weak security risk profile which manifests itself in insecure network infrastructures, incomplete regulatory compliance, security audit failures and increased security management costs out of line with business objectives.
Delphi leverages Wurldtech’s Achilles Security Analysis Platform to create a comprehensive database of known and unknown risk profiles for industrial control systems which can be used by plant operators, integrators and industry professionals as the basis for developing and implementing security strategies. It allows the user to answer questions such as “How secure am I?”, “Where should I focus my resources?” and “Am I doing everything I can to protect my enterprise?” and includes a repository of new signatures, vulnerabilities, safeguards and response guidance updated on a regular basis.
“A major industry challenge is the lack of known specific security risks that could impact the reliability and/or availability of industrial control systems,” said leading cyber- security guru Joe Weiss of Applied Control Solutions, who is a member of the ISA SP99 Process Control Security committee and has repeatedly testified to the U.S. Congress on cybersecurity issues. “Databases such as Delphi can provide a valuable source of information from which to plan, develop and deploy the appropriate security solutions for the unique requirements of industrial operations.”
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