Navigating the fastest developing technologies in process automation

Rapid advances and standards for wireless, security and interoperability vie with the familiarity and reliability of legacy systems.

From field devices to global enterprise and cybersecurity to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), industrial networks are among the most critical and fastest developing technologies in process automation. 

As plants scramble to provide ever more accessible information, rapid advances and standards for wireless, security and interoperability vie with the familiarity and reliability of legacy systems for your attention, training and investment dollars.

"IoT depends on reliable, integrated, IP-based networks, and reliability is exactly what we as automation and controls engineers know well. Unfortunately, not everyone understands networks and network design as well as they should, and as a result, the network can often be the weakest link," says Ian Verhappen, P.Eng., ISA Fellow, ISA Certified Automation Professional (CAP) and member of the Automation Hall of Fame. 

This anthology─our State of Technology Report on Industrial Networks─compiles the most important and useful articles from the pages of Control to make sure you're up to date and able to make informed networking decisions.

Topics covered in the report cover how poorly-designed networks can crush your system, digital integration of field devices, cybersecurity myths, safely taking advantage of wireless technology and more.

Click here to read the State of Technology Report on Industrial Networks. 



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  • I'm not surprised to see that digital networks are the fastest developing technologies in the process automation. I read the Harvard Business Review article "Which Industries Are the Most Digital (and Why)?" according to which oil & gas, utilities, chemicals & pharmaceuticals are lagging behind the technology sector and many other sectors in digital adoption. This is not so surprising considering that although most plants have digital control systems, digital transmitters, and digital valve positioners – the real-time signals between them in most plants are still analog. Many plants are still being built based on analog signals. Because each analog signal requires a dedicated pair of signal wires which is costly and requires an analog I/O card channel which is also expensive, most plants are being built with a bare minimum of instrumentation and using only a subset of I/O signals available in many devices. However, there are of course standout plants being built that are pushing the frontier forward for everyone else with pervasive networking, both fieldbus and wireless, which enables pervasive use of sensors for digitization of all process equipment and also enables all I/O signals in every device to be utilized.


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