ISA launches Automation Standards Compliance Institute

Nov. 10, 2006
Group to be link between standards development and implementation.

The Automation Standards Compliance Institute is an ISA-owned, non-profit organization whose brief is to  assess automation-related standards compliance in areas including software or hardware products, implementation methods, solutions, companies and individuals.

“We are widely recognized as the source for unbiased, authoritative standards,” says 2007 ISA President Steve Huffman. “This initiative will provide a vital link between the standards we develop and the implementation of those standards. We will also have the opportunity to partner with other organizations and assess conformity of their standards.”

A feasibility study, a market study and a legal assessment have all been performed, and results indicate that ISA is in a strong position to launch this initiative. Two-thirds of respondents to the market survey believed that a standards conformity program is needed to provide a useful link between ISA standards and the products, services, processes and systems that use them.

“Automation users have increasingly recognized the value of adopting true industry standards. The next step in this evolution is to ensure that the solutions selected in fact adhere to these standards,” says Wil Chin, Director of Field Systems, ARC Advisory Group. “We are encouraged by this announcement indicating that ISA is stepping up to fill this need. The Automation Standards Compliance Institute will educate users and help suppliers transform standards into real interoperable products.”

A board of directors will govern the organization and is expected to include senior ISA officers, ISA staff and directors not necessarily associated with ISA who are appointed for their business experience with standards conformity programs. A managing director will be hired in the coming months to develop and implement the business and operational aspects of the Automation Standards Compliance Institute. ”We will work with the managing director to develop business plans for specific compliance assessment programs, based on market opportunity and the needs of the industry,” said ISA Director of Publishing Services Chip Lee.

“Initially, we expect to consider developing compliance programs in areas like safety, security and wireless, where asset owners, consultants, contractors and suppliers are all striving to reduce risks and optimize performance,” Lee says. “The Automation Standards Compliance Institute will be in a unique position to evaluate compliance in these areas and facilitate development of ancillary services that assist asset owners, integrators, consultants and suppliers in understanding and implementing standards.”

Support for Security
Many in the automation community have indicated that compliance evaluation testing methodologies may be needed to support ongoing security standards work. The ISA-SP99 committee is focused on the security of industrial automation and control systems. Compromise of these systems could result in endangerment of public or employee safety, loss of public confidence, violation of regulatory requirements, loss of proprietary or confidential information, economic loss and an adverse impact on the integrity of national or international security.

“Standards and compliance assurance activities need to go hand-in-hand. Creating security standards without having a means to verify they are being followed correctly limits their effectiveness and puts industry at risk. The existence of an ISA-facilitated organization like the Automation Standards Compliance Institute to manage and deliver security standards compliance programs will greatly enhance the use of the security standards and increase both safety and security,” says Eric Byres, CEO, Byres Security Inc.

The ISA-SP100 Committee addresses wireless manufacturing and control systems in the areas of the environment in which the wireless technology is deployed, the technology life cycle for wireless equipment and systems, and the application of wireless technology. “As the standard is developed, it will be critical for the Automation Standards Compliance Institute to work with the committee to ensure that criteria are established that can result in future compliance testing,” says Wayne Manges, co-chairman of ISA-SP100 and Program Manager with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.