The evolution of operator interfaces has moved quite far beyond the push button era. In this white paper, Advantech takes a detailed look at smart operator panels.04/05/2011
In order to be competitive, various plant entities, departments and personnel have to work as one flexible, integrated, collaborative team.03/09/2011
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
In a previous white paper, "The First Step" we provided an overview of three methods to improve energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions in refineries and petrochemical plants:
1) operational improvements to optimize the process
2) recovering more heat by improving the heat integration of the process and
3) adopting new process technology that fundamentally improves the efficiency of the process design and operation.
This whitepaper will outline low-cost operational improvements that use process condition and control improvements to unlock hidden energy saving opportunities.02/09/2011
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.
Biomass power-generating electricity from renewable feedstocks- offers a potential escape from the fossil-fuel trap. More sustainable sources of biomass and efficient conversion processes, as well as more flexible control technologies, together offer the potential to offset growing energy demands on a carbon-neutral basis.11/09/2010
This paper describes the components of layered optimization solutions - controller-based optimization, distributed dynamic optimization, non-linear gain updating, traditional steady-state non-linear optimization and dynamic non-linear optimization. It also discusses the advantages and benefits of this approach, as well as methods for determining optimization benefits of a particular application.11/09/2010
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
Process engineering focuses on the design, operation and maintenance of chemical and material processes in a vast range of industries. This white paper identifies process simulation tools to seamlessly integrate throughout the process design life cycle and discusses best practices for facilitating engineering workflow.08/11/2010
Read this Aberdeen review of how best-in-class companies provide visibility into manufacturing operations while using real-time interoperability between manufacturing systems and business systems.07/20/2010
Historically, most automation systems have run on proprietary networks, which were well-bounded and therefore relatively easy to maintain. In contrast, modern automation systems are a hybrid of mission-specific control technologies and Windows' based open systems. Although an open architecture creates abundant possibilities of configurations, "taming the beast" is essential to constrain the system for both maintenance and security purposes. To better manage these freedoms, companies are now deploying Common Operating Environments (COEs), which are uniform configurations of hardware and software, to help maintain the reliability and security of these systems. This paper discusses what should be included in the specifications for COEs, the benefits and the best solution for facilitating their compliance.07/20/2010
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
Electrical power generation, transmission and distribution systems thrived for decades with limited intelligence. But present and future demands, particularly the need to incorporate distributed energy resources (DERs) into the generation mix, are necessitating a transition to a smart grid.05/19/2010
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
HIGH-SLIP BRAKING SOFTWARE PUTS THE BRAKES ON TRADITIONAL LOAD-BRAKING METHODS WITHOUT EXTERNAL EQUIPMENT
The techniques for braking of high inertial loads to a stop traditionally involved either Dynamic Braking or DC Injection Braking technology.
This article examines a new load-braking alternative called High-Slip Braking (HSB). We identify the different aspects of HSB, look at what it does, how it works, and how it is different from other braking methods. We also provide examples of "real world" successes, and discuss the new technology's cost effectiveness.
WHAT DOES HSB DO?
High-slip braking allows the stopping of larger inertial loads without the need for expensive and bulky braking options such as Dynamic Braking packages. Inertial loads involve only inertia and friction and given enough time, will tend to stop on their own when power is removed. HSB is most effective in applications involving infrequent stopping of inertial rotating loads where speed control during stopping is not required. Typical applications of this sort include; laundry equipment, centrifuges, large commercial fans, punch presses, blowers and mixers. Do not use HSB on overhauling static loads like; hoists, winches, elevators, product lifters, and similar applications. HSB is applicable only for complete stopping of the load and not as a means of braking for speed changes.
The HSB feature has proven to cut braking times in half without requiring extra equipment. The overall stopping time, however, does depend on the inertia of the load being stopped and the characteristics of the motor. HSB can achieve braking torque of more than 100% of the full motor torque.05/17/2010
When a business expands an existing facility, adds a new location, incorporates an influx of new users, or upgrades an existing infrastructure - it's vital to ensure network readiness and validate infrastructure changes to optimize network performance, minimize user downtime and reduce problems after implementation. This white paper describes a methodology to manage network changes that meets the need for speed of implementation without sacrificing accuracy.
Changes in business place demands on the network -and the network professionals who administer it -to expand and accommodate different users, additional users, remote locations and more. Situations driving this increased need to manage and validate infrastructure changes include:
- Mergers and acquisitions: The network established for 50 users must now accommodate 500.
- Business growth into a new wing or facilities: The current network must handle the increased load of new users, applications and infrastructure.
- New technologies: As part of a corporate-wide upgrade, a new technology must be validated for all users before implementation.
- Upgrading the network: When installing new infrastructure devices, the configuration must be validated as correct.
Regardless of what drives the change, one commonality is the need for rapid and accurate completion of the project. Too often, however, changes are reacted to rather than managed proactively, leading to future problems. In part, this is due to the need for fast deployment: All of these changes must happen as quickly as possible, so shortcuts are taken and steps skipped in the process. Accuracy suffers as a result. And ironically, both the network and IT staffs are slowed down because expanding or upgrading networks without upfront due diligence leads to time-consuming problems and troubleshooting later.04/28/2010
Using video data to improve both safety and ROI.
Most companies are gathering trillions of bytes of data, day after day, at no small cost, and then doing very little with it. Worse still, the data often is not serving its primary function very cost-effectively.
The "culprit," so to speak, is video surveillance data, the information captured by the video cameras that are used throughout most modern facilities.
But the situation is changing rapidly, thanks to an application called Video Analytics. This white paper looks at the new software technology, and how it can be used to leverage video data for better security and business performance.03/05/2010