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ARC Industry Forum 2020 tackles process industry issues

March 5, 2020
24th annual event rolls on with cybersecurity, digital transformation solutions

Melanie Kalmar, corporate VP, chief information officer and chief digital officer, Dow, and Peter Holicki, senior VP of operations, manufacturing and engineering, Environment, Health and Safety Operations, Dow, detail their company's OT-IT issues and digital transformation evolution at ARC Industry Forum in Orlando.  

After two dozen conferences and thousands of technical sessions, ARC Advisory Group is getting to be pretty adept at providing useful solutions to the biggest challenges facing the process and other industries. It proved its mettle yet again by staging its 24th annual ARC Industry Forum, Feb. 2-6, in Orlando with more than 200 speakers and 55 sessions in six tracks for 875 attendees from 250 companies and 20 countries.

The event was headlined by two vice presidents from Dow, who faced off in a literal digital transformation showdown, which detailed how the company has been wrestling with the same operations technology (OT) versus information technology (IT) issues and technical shifts impacting everyone in the process industries and beyond. Both have worked for Dow for 33 years and witnessed its evolution first hand, including its recent mergers and de-mergers, and the establishment of its Digital Operations Center (DOC) in Houston, which uses a scrum approach to solve problems. 

"I began working without a PC and no IT functions and saw Dow develop our own process control system," says Peter Holicki, senior VP of operations, manufacturing and engineering, Environment, Health and Safety Operations, Dow. "Now, we're changing it from a chemical company that does IT to a digital company that does material science, but this means we have to truly support each other's priorities. We don't always know if our philosophies are going to align, but we do know that we can't work in the same silos. We had to come together."

Melanie Kalmar, corporate VP, chief information officer and chief digital officer, Dow, adds that Dow's IT side had to learn more about how its manufacturing worked, which meant that she attended Holicki's meetings, and vice versa. "We joined a lot of each other's teams," says Kalmar. "This was important because the three pillars of digital transformation are customers, employees and how we work. Data can enable better decisions and safer operations, but we depend on the whole organization to drive innovations. OT and IT both have deep knowledge and expertise, so we logically had to bring down the silos they were in, even if we had doubts about doing it. Now, we've mandated a 'digital Dow,' and are coming together and working together. Plus, once several sites joined the DOC, other leaders came on board, too."  

Cybersecurity concentration 

As usual, the forum was prefaced and interspersed with several cybersecurity sessions, moderated ARC VP Sid Snitkin.

"Digital transformation and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is users putting in cheap devices to get more data, taking advantage of these technologies to do things better, but typically adding cybersecurity afterwards," said Snitkin. "Users want the equivalent of iPhone capabilities in their plants, but this also requires rethinking how to build a cybersecurity program that's resilient. The digital transformation challenge for cybersecurity teams is that business users want free rein, and traditional cybersecurity methods aren't enough. New cybersecurity strategies must reach across IT and OT areas, access data from more sources, and redeploy from the edge and mobile devices to the cloud and back to better manage today's endpoints and fast, dynamic connections."

Ricky Eckhart, IT/OT enterprise architect at ExxonMobil, added, "Digital transformation and cybersecurity can't be in silos because they have key impacts on each other, so we need to engineer cybersecurity into our processes and solutions from the beginning, leverage third-party collaboration and outside resources, and go beyond maintaining cybersecurity zones and conduits to revising broad-based connectivity and network design. For example, we have a manufacturing  cybersecurity advisor at each site and many engineers learning cybersecurity skills, and they're working with our Digital Manufacturing Governance Team that recommends digitalized tools for enhancing processes and addressing safety, health and environmental (SHE) issues.

In other news at ARC Forum's other sessions, press conferences and exhibits:

Ted Masters, president and CEO, FieldComm Group reported on its latest efforts, including progress on Process Automation Device Information Model (PA-DIM), collaboration with the NAMUR open architecture, PA-DIM's demonstration at NAMUR's annual meeting, and addressing digital transformation for the installed base including HART. "There's a big thirst to get data from the plant-floor to the cloud, and that why PA-DIM was created," says Masters. "Our recent survey of petrochemical users in the Middle East and India showed that digital transformation is heavily impacted by security, reliability, and skills and training issues, but this is where PA-DIM and Ethernet-based advanced physical layer (APL) can help because they let users choose the solution they want without tying them to one protocol. In the future, PA-DIM will let new devices sit next to and work with 20-year-old devices."

Andrew Degnan, regional VP at Diamanti, showed how its hybrid cloud-computing service and containerized platform using Kubernetes can employ preinstalled, preconfigured elements to assist projects that previously took months to implement, and instead get them up and running in a day or less.

Alexander Horch, VP for R&D and product management at the HIMA Group, presented its cybersecurity roadmap, which focused on securing safety systems and providing security services at the periphery of process applications, as well as addressing new security challenges presented by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). "Diagnostics, configuration, engineering and other data need to get out from process applications and plants, while remote access, maintenance and other input need to get in," says Horch. "These types of open and standardized concepts are often excluded from safety systems, mainly due to security concerns, which is why HMIA is working on an open, secure safety system for these facilities."

Inductive Automation chief strategy officer Don Pearson and co-director of sales engineering Travis Cox announced four solutions for digital transformation, including its expanded Ignition Edge product line that makes it easier for users to collect data at the edge of the network; expanded Ignition Onboard program that eases implementation; Ignition Perspective Module that helps users easily turn data into action by building mobile-first applications with HTML5 and CSS; and Ignition Exchange that reduces development times by providing a free online marketplace of Ignition resources.

Joe Bastone, product management for Experion PKS at Honeywell Process Solutions, showed how its  Experion PKS Highly Integrated Virtual Environment (HIVE) enables a more standardized approach, addresses project inefficiencies and eliminates non-value-added work, while its Experion PKS IT HIVE reduces project delivery and overall lifecycle costs by optimizing control systems and letting users focus on optimizing processes instead of maintenance. "Many process applications are begging for time-saving modularization and standardization, and this is what HIVE can provide," says Bastone. "For instance, IT HIVE reduces physical IT equipment and provides centralized administration, workload balancing and cost optimization, which means a smaller set of resources can manage a larger set of assets."

Click here for more information about ARC Industry Forum 2020, including slides and videos of many presentations.