The data historian has long been seen as a venerable workhorse for engineers and technicians in the process industries, but changing economic conditions are forcing managers and executives to realize not only its importance but that it is a critical component to any process industry operation.07/03/2013
Recent innovations in model identification, automated testing, and controller operating modes are creating opportunities to bring new efficiencies to the process of sustaining APC controllers.07/03/2013
Process engineering has undergone significant transformation over the years, catalyzed by advances and innovation in software both within individual disciplines and also in the integration across the workflow.07/03/2013
Learn 5 Reasons to switch to distributed modular I/O01/16/2013
This White Paper explains:
- What the 3S CoDeSys vulnerabilities are and what an attacker can do with them
- How to find out what control/SCADA devices are affected
- The risks and potential consequences to SCADA and control systems
- The compensating controls that will help block known attack vectors
A number of security vulnerabilities in the CoDeSys Control Runtime System were disclosed in January 2012. In October 2012, fully functional attack tools were also released to the general public.
While CoDeSys is not widely known in the SCADA and ICS field, its product is embedded in many popular PLCs and industrial controllers. Many vendors are potentially vulnerable, and include devices used in all sectors of manufacturing and infrastructure. As a result, there is a risk that criminals or political groups may attempt to exploit them for either financial or ideological gain.
This White Paper summarizes the currently known facts about these vulnerabilities and associated attack tools. It also provides guidance regarding a number of mitigations and compensating controls that operators of SCADA and ICS systems can take to protect critical operations.12/26/2012
The editors of Control and Control Design compiled this special report from the 21st annual Automation Fair event, hosted by Rockwell Automation, in Philadelphia, November 5-8. This interactive PDF includes more than 20 articles documenting highlights ranging from executive keynotes and new product announcements to vertical industry forums and Rockwell Automation Process Solutions User Group and Safety Automation Forum meetings.12/11/2012
Halloween in New Orleans this year saw more than the usual array of costumed revelers on Bourbon Street. Indeed, hundreds of process automation professionals descended on the Crescent City to exchange ideas and best practices at Yokogawa's 2012 User Group Conference and Exhibition. The Control editorial team was on hand and developed this exclusive report of presentation highlights--on topics ranging from safety system risk management to the latest in data acquisition technology.12/10/2012
With any new tech device, whether a cell phone or plant-floor controller, there is inevitably a helpful feature or two you overlooked while reading the manual or taking the introductory tutorial. Although these technological devices still perform their desired, basic functions - discovering an underutilized feature makes you wonder how you ever operated the device without it.
Interacting with alarms is one of the basic functions your operators expect from their human-machine interface (HMI) software. However, if you're only using the standard alarming functions, you may be missing out on lesser-known features that could help you save time, ease troubleshooting and reduce headaches. The five FactoryTalk Alarms and Events functions listed below are often overlooked and underutilized. See where they fit and if you can find some hidden tools in your plant-floor applications.08/29/2012
The thermal mass flow meter's ability to deliver a direct reading of mass flow rates of air, natural gas and other fuel gases provides a simple, reliable, and costeffective method for tracking and reporting fuel consumption.
Accurate, repeatable measurement of air and gas, at low and varying flow rates, is also a critical variable in combustion control. Conventional flow meters require pressure and temperature transmitters to compensate for density changes. The thermal mass flow meter, however, measures gas mass flow directly, with no need for additional hardware. The thermal meter also provides better rangeability and a lower pressure drop than orifices, venturis, or turbine meters.
Energy prices are subject to frequent and abrupt changes and fluctuations. When energy prices are high, daily accounting of natural gas usage should be made a priority for large industrial facilities with multiple processes and/or buildings. Fuel gas flow meters are used to analyze demand, improve operating efficiency, reduce waste and adjust for peak usage. Thermal mass flow meters are frequently used for these energy-accounting applications. In addition, thermal flow meters can help plant managers provide accurate usage reports for environmental compliance, as well as compare measured usage to billing reports from gas providers.08/13/2012
Download a complete solution library full of HMI-product demos, brochures, datasheets and success stories, including the ARC white paper, "HMI Platforms Evolve to Become Key Automation Solution Components."03/05/2012
Download this presentation to see a series of highlights from the Greenhouse Gas Mandatory Reporting Rule (GHG MRR).05/20/2011
Are you taking advantage of it?
Over the years, we've had sensor upgrades for process measurement, improved controllers for automation, HMI/SCADA installations for Operator visibility, Historians for data archiving and operational analytics, and now we have enterprise integration for improved material management, corporate agility, regulatory compliance and a host of other features. The manager makes the decision, and the engineer is saddled with a lot of work and stress. That work often rolls downhill, creating opportunity for System Integrators. We are all in an age where there is a technology abundance, leading to many ways to skin the cat. Have you researched all the alternatives? Are you up to speed with the latest tools to solve complicated enterprise integration?
What does integration mean to you? It may mean sending data to your corporate database, enabling tools from Oracle, SAP and other enterprise vendors to report and analyze on it. The first step is usually to create an enterprise dashboard of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). That should keep management happy for a while. But then, the focus will shift to even tighter integration. You'll want to close the loop on equipment, enabling data to flow from the enterprise back down to the equipment. How you accomplish all this is very much driven by your automation perspective. Will you control this from the Enterprise, or will you coordinate this from the plant floor.05/16/2011
The Stuxnet worm is a sophisticated piece of computer malware designed to sabotage industrial processes controlled by Siemens SIMATIC WinCC, S7 and PCS 7 control systems. The worm used both known and previously unknown vulnerabilities to spread, and was powerful enough to evade state-of-the-practice security technologies and procedures.
Since the discovery of the Stuxnet worm in July 2010, there has been extensive analysis by Symantec, ESET, Langner and others of the worms internal workings and the various vulnerabilities it exploits. From the antivirus point of view, this makes perfect sense. Understanding how the worm was designed helps antivirus product vendors make better malware detection software.
What has not been discussed in any depth is how the worm might have migrated from the outside world to a supposedly isolated and secure industrial control system (ICS). To the owners and operators of industrial control systems, this matters. Other worms will follow in Stuxnet's footsteps and understanding the routes that a directed worm takes as it targets an ICS is critical if these vulnerable pathways are to be closed. Only by understanding the full array of threats and pathways into a SCADA or control network can critical processes be made truly secure.
It is easy to imagine a trivial scenario and a corresponding trivial solution:
Scenario: Joe finds a USB flash drive in the parking lot and brings it into the control room where he plugs it into the PLC programming station.
Solution: Ban all USB flash drives in the control room.
While this may be a possibility, it is far more likely that Stuxnet travelled a circuitous path to its final victim. Certainly, the designers of the worm expected it to - they designed at least seven different propagation techniques for Stuxnet to use. Thus, a more realistic analysis of penetration and infection pathways is needed.
This White Paper is intended to address this gap by analyzing a range of potential "infection pathways" in a typical ICS system. Some of these are obvious, but others less so. By shedding light on the multitude of infection pathways, we hope that the designers and operators of industrial facilities can take the appropriate steps to make control systems much more secure from all threats.02/28/2011
This initiative is the first step in filling a noticeable void in industry - the lack of independent competency training in the Operations Management (MES/MOM) arena. This lack of wide-scale competency is recognized as a major barrier to plant and supply chain optimization and global operations excellence.
With members in 85 countries globally, MESA is an independent, objective community of like-minded people and enterprises working to make Operations more reliable, capable and profitable. Some of the foremost experts across the Operations Management landscape are leading the knowledge sharing within the MESA community by offering programs across 4 continents by mid-2011.
MESA Certificate of Competency (CoC) for MES/MOM* Methodologies: A 4-day, comprehensive program of MES/MOM Methodologies courses aimed at Systems Analysts, Architects, Programmers, Project Managers and Consultants.
MESA Certificate of Awareness (CoA) for MES/MOM Business Awareness: A 2-day, high-level program of MES/MOM Business Functions courses geared for executives, manufacturing/operations and IT personnel and sales professionals. The CoA courses are higher level, short versions of the CoC program.
A Comprehensive Plant Crew Training Solution Improving Process Reliability and Safety
One of the key challenges that capitalintensive industries will face over the next five years is replacing the gray-haired workforce with the computer-savvy/gaming generation. High-fidelity operator trainer simulators that represent the production process, control system and the control room interface have proved to be very effective for control room operations training. However, for the remaining 50% of the plant start-up procedures that are executed in the field, no fully interactive training environment has been available - until now.
Industries like oil and gas, refining and power companies need to institutionalize their workforce knowledge in more efficient and effective ways. Leveraging Virtual Reality (VR) models to improve time-to competency in critical areas like safety, environment protection systems, knowledge, performance training, and reliability provides a vehicle to rapidly train the new workforce in ways that align with their interests and skills.
With continuing advances in hardware and software techniques Virtual Reality (VR) is accessible today as the best aid to multimedia training, process design, maintenance, safety, etc. which are currently based around conventional 2-Dimensional (2-D) equipment views.
The real time rendering of equipment views puts demands on processor time and so the use of high fidelity simulators is becoming more and more of a standard in process understanding and training. Within many VR commercial projects in the past, the results have either been unrealistically slow or oversimplified to the detriment of the solution effectiveness. As the technology continues to develop, these issues have been eliminated, giving way to a new process simulation era that is based on commercially standard IT hardware.
IVRP (Immersive Virtual Reality Plant) now provides a large range of effective multimedia aids that are easily and economically accessible to support design, training, maintenance or safety in the process industry by linking the power of dynamic simulation - DYNSYM - to VR applications and tools.
Invensys has filed patents for the solution outlined in this paper.10/25/2010
Distributed Control Systems (DCS) have been successfully utilized to help control manufacturing and production processes since the late 1970s. The primary function of these DCS systems has been the automatic feedback control of the various process loops across the plants and the human interfacing with plant operators guiding the production from control rooms. Although these systems have proven to be very successful at improving the efficiency of industrial operations as compared with earlier control technologies, the state-of-the-art has not grown significantly since their inception. Most plants still operate exactly as they did 40 years ago.
Considerable research and development has been invested in expanding the functionality of DCS's in the areas of advanced controls and advanced manufacturing execution software. Numerous industrial plants have started to employ advanced controls in critical or high-value process operations, with some venturing into the use of advanced application software packages, each typically designed to address a specific issue or challenge within the industrial operations. Entrepreneurial software companies typically developed the software at this level of operation, essentially between the automation and business levels, often referred to as the manufacturing execution software (MES).
Although some industrial operations implemented advanced control and advanced MES software, the vast majority of processes are still controlled by simple automatic feedback control. The efficiency and effectiveness of most plants is a function of the installed feedback control systems. As a result, many industrial managers have expressed concerns that, in spite of the huge investments made in automation systems and software, plants do not appear to be operating better than they had been 30 years ago. In some cases, the plants actually appear to be operating less efficiently, possibly due to the reduced and inexperienced work forces and aging equipment.10/25/2010
Today, for a variety of reasons, tremendous pressures are building that will require plant managers to update their aging automation systems during the next decade. Defining the need for and exploring alternative approaches to this modernization of manufacturing systems is the subject of this report.
Managers in today's process manufacturing plants must react to factors ranging from massive customization and growing demand for change orders in the middle of production runs to management expectations mandating ever-faster execution of production orders.
Such constant pressures are driving many manufacturers to reevaluate the role of their automation strategies while improving the overall effectiveness of their enterprises. They're finding that automation is playing an increasingly important role in the effectiveness and profitability of their entire enterprise, impacting everything from cost of operations to customer satisfaction.
Fortunately, many are also discovering that they can make significant improvements throughout their value chain - without being forced to abandon their entire existing automation investment.10/25/2010
A key aspect of the "Perfect Plant" is having the right information in the right place at the right time. In most manufacturing environments, instrumentation and monitoring is widespread. Pages and pages of graphs and reports describe every operational characteristic and are used by operators and management to steer the plant to optimal performance. However, in the modern plant, the right time to view this information is not when you are standing in front of an operator console. It is when you are in the field, in front of a failing piece of equipment or discussing a problem while on the move. More often than not, the right way to deliver information is by putting it in the hands of a mobile worker.
The right way to collect information also involves mobility. Remember that 40% to 60% of equipment in the plants and on the shop floors is not instrumented. Optimizing this critical aspect of plant performance depends on mobile field workers. Armed with the right tools, mobile workers can cost-effectively gather data from non-instrumented assets that can be readily analyzed and integrated into existing back-end decision support systems. Bidirectional flow of information to and from mobile workers is a key competitive imperative required to make fully informed decisions regarding the operation of the Perfect Plant.
Regrettably for most companies, when it comes to the mobile workforce in manufacturing, too often, vital decisions are made in the dark, in an information-poor environment and with little support or historical contextual information to make informed decisions proactively. Field workers - the people who are closest to the equipment and processes, who feel the heat, hear the noises, and see the changes that can be the first indicators of trouble - frequently do their jobs based on individual experiential knowledge acquired over many years.
This approach makes manufacturers vulnerable to high levels of variability based on individual talent, skills, and training. With the massive investments in automation over the past decades, management often lacks visibility into what these decision makers in the field do and finds it hard to provide guidance to ensure execution of best practices occur across the field worker roles, production shifts, and assets.10/25/2010
Industry professionals have been trying to achieve safe, smart, responsible, sustainable manufacturing for at least the past 20 years, but why have they failed?
There are serious challenges to overcome in order to achieve smart manufacturing. Some of the challenges include economic instability, changing workforce, the need for greater than incremental increases in productivity, pressures to minimize environmental impacts and an increased focus on safety and risks of accident.
Manufacturing ought to be safe, because working safely is more profitable and more economical. Manufacturing ought to be smart. The data that is being continuously generated by smart machines and transmitters must be translated into actionable information. Manufacturing ought to be responsible. Manufacturing ought to be sustainable. Energy and waste reduction savings go straight to the bottom line.
So what is smart manufacturing, and how do we get there? Download this presentation and find out how Walt Boyes defines smart manufacturing and what suggestions he gives to get there.06/24/2010
An Introduction to Data Loggers
"I just think the only way we are really going to get to the point we need to get to is to start collecting the real data."
This comment, made in 2009 by New York Public Service Commission chairman Garry Brown, conveys a growing sentiment about the need for solid, objective data on building energy performance.
When it comes to determining actual building performance, it all comes down to data. Data takes the guesswork out of energy management, and drives decisions as to what energy conservation measures need to be taken in a facility.
Portable data loggers are ideal tools for collecting building performance data. These affordable, compact devices can help establish energy performance baselines, and reveal a buildings performance under real-world, rather than modeled, circumstances.
They offer fine-tuned visual performance feedback, measuring changes in temperature and energy use when people enter and exit a building, turn on and off lights, or run heating and cooling systems. They can also be used to help ensure that indoor air quality and comfort are maintained in a building.05/17/2010