Control News from Europe June 2008

Read Andrew Bond’s Industrial Automation Insider, a monthly newsletter covering the important industrial automation news and issues as seen from the U.K.

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Tightly integrated with SQL Server 2005 and 2008, the newly released Hyper Historian is claimed by Agrusa to be the “the first 64-bit, real-time, plant-wide data historian in the market.” It uses a robust swinging-door algorithm to achieve data logging rates of greater than 50,000 data events per second on reference machines. Hyper Historian is configured through Iconics’ Workbench Web-based development environment which also forms part of Genesis64 and provides integrated layout and project management and remote “pack-and-go” deployment.

  • The latest release from Schneider’s Citect SCADA/MES subsidiary is CitectSCADA Reports V4.1, which CitectSCADA global director Stephen Flannigan describes as “the industry’s ‘most open’ historian.” It is claimed to be unique―or at least unusual―among historians in using 100% Microsoft SQL Server 2005 as its embedded historical data store and provides multi-cluster support together with industry-standard connectivity via the OPC HDA Server. The standard offering comes with a range of pre-configured alarm management reports based on EEMUA 191 and an integrated reporting and analysis solution available out-of-the-box.
  • Interesting phraseology from Siemens in announcing the latest version of WinCC: Rather than describing the “universal scalable visualization system” as Vista-certified, it says it “now offers operation in accordance with Windows Vista.” What that means apparently is, for example, that WinCC objects for operable elements have been adapted to provide optical responses with elements such as GIFs or displays changing color when touched by the cursor or displaying semi-transparently. Similarly, alarm and trend displays are available both in a “classic” version and in a new version based on Vista that allows the user to create individual buttons and run the export function from every control and to configure selections for display of alarms and trends online. Enhanced security includes prevention of the unintentional activation of Internet pages to avoid the potential risk of ‘trojans’ while a new text distributor simplifies handling of multiple languages.


. . . while Yokogawa takes Vista into safety

Latest release of Yokogawa’s ProSafe-RS integrated safety instrumented system (SIS) is claimed to be the “first major safety instrumented system to support Windows Vista.” ProSafe-RS R2.01.00 is designed to integrate smoothly with the recently announced Centum VP DCS which itself is Vista-based. The combination enables the SIS to take advantage of Centum VP’s ergonomic and intuitive operational environment, providing what the company claims is improved visibility of information and enhanced operability, with operation and monitoring of the DCS and SIS performed in a common operational environment.

As well as the new security features inherent in Vista, the new system enhances the security of PC components by restricting communications, controlling access to folders and the registry and preventing unauthorized access from outside. Yokogawa is targeting the enhanced system at emergency shutdown, fire prevention and burner management applications in the oil & gas, petrochemical and other process industries.
Windows Vista compatibility is also a key feature of the latest release of Yokogawa’s Stardom network-based control system along with support for AGA3, 7 and 8 gas calculations, a new data-logging function for the FCN/FCJ autonomous controllers and the addition of network templates to the engineering tool to improve the reusability of applications.


Innominate joins Industrial Defender program

Signs of European and U.S. cybersecurity specialists pooling their expertise comes with the announcement that Berlin, Germany-based Innominate Security Technologies has joined Boston, U.S.-based Industrial Defender’s “Industrial Defender Enabled Partner Program.”. The program is described by Industrial Defender as enabling technology providers focused on the real-time process control/SCADA market to collaborate on expanding their technology offerings and providing comprehensive integrated cyber security solutions based on its ‘Defense in Depth’ offering.

Innominate’s mGuard product line provides hardware firewall, VPN and virus protection which can be readily integrated into networked industrial systems, as well as enabling secure remote maintenance of industrial machinery and equipment. “By joining Industrial Defender’s Enabled Partner Program, we make it easier for our customers to utilize award-winning mGuard technology within a comprehensive Industrial Defender network security system,” explained Innominate CEO Joachim Fietz. “Customers requiring state-of-the-art security technology in combination with industry-specific expertise and experience in designing, deploying and servicing network security solutions will find that with us.”

Monitoring

Under the program, partners undergo a comprehensive technology validation process which enables their devices to be monitored by the Industrial Defender Security Event Management (SEM) console, thereby enhancing the overall “cybersecurity posture” of the process control or SCADA network. End users who purchase the Industrial Defender (SEM) console can monitor all Industrial Defender Enabled devices on the network including Innominate mGuard devices from a single central console. “The process manufacturing industries are increasingly looking to enhance their cybersecurity protection from a broad range of threats, both internal and external,” commented Industrial Defender president and CEO Brian Ahern. “By integrating Industrial Defender Risk Mitigation technology, Innominate is furthering its commitment to … providing unparalleled network security tailored specifically to the global industrial market.”


OPC Foundation focuses on integrators

The OPC Foundation has created a new program aimed specifically at aiding system integrators and distributors in the deployment of products from different vendors. The Foundation’s original focus had been on vendors developing shrink-wrap products and providing specifications, technology and certification to facilitate interoperability. However, this new program focuses on integrators and distributors who build custom systems from products from multiple OPC vendors and in particular their development of custom software that adds value by incorporating custom OPC components to complete integration projects. The aim is to meet end-user expectations for integrators to increase their proficiency in the use of the OPC technology by providing a mechanism and membership class under which they can design, develop and certify custom software. “Initially, the system integrator makes the end user happy by putting together a system that consists of certified OPC products from multiple vendors,” explained OPC president Thomas Burke. “However, problems sometimes arise as small pieces of custom software are developed to extend the functionality, which then compromise the integrity of the system.”

OPC gets the blame

Frequently, the OPC component is not developed exactly to specification and, when making things work together becomes difficult, it is often OPC that gets the blame. “The Foundation wants this to stop, for the benefit of all,” said Burke. “So we are calling on the myriad of OPC system integrators out there who routinely use OPC to solve problems in the field to sign up and help raise the overall quality and reliability of OPC products.”

The need is all the more urgent because of the launch of the OPC Unified Architecture that covers all levels of enterprise connectivity, including aspects outside the direct automation arena. “We especially urge companies thinking of implementing an OPC Unified Architecture system to join us now,” said Burke, “so that end users do not become disillusioned with our next ambitious step into the future.”

OPC Foundation membership fees have traditionally correlated with company annual revenue. However, because project values tend to be high in the automation business, a different pricing model has been developed and a new System Integrator & Distributor (SI&D) membership category created with a fixed membership fee of $1500. For this, the SI&D member gains access to OPC specifications and reference implementations (sample code) on which to base its products, together with the Foundation’s free Compliance Test Tools to self-certify its own custom OPC components. A special listing of SI&D members is to be maintained and end users will be actively encouraged to use members from it for their projects.

Supporting activities will include a fresh round of specialist SI&D training events and a series of webinars. “We’re also developing a certification scheme which will award successful attendees at our training classes ‘Certified OPC Provider’ status,” said Burke. “We are now establishing a network of new Test Lab services to ensure top product quality and reliability, particularly for Unified Architecture components, and our goal is to ensure that all developers, including the new SI&D membership, take full advantage of the services we offer.”

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