Just like clockwork or a national holiday, ARC Advisory Group staged another groundbreaking Industry Forum on Feb. 4-7 in Orlando, and once again gave the sellout crowd a concentrated dose of pretty much everything important going on in control, automation and all their related industries. As usual, ARC VP Sid Snitkin's cybersecurity sessions kicked off the 23rd annual event, but they were closely followed by OT-IT convergence, digital transformation, open process automation (OPA), machine learning, smart cities and many other topics.
Doug Wylie, director of the industrial and infrastructure portfolio at SANS Institute, reflected to about 200 attendees how cybersecurity in automation has progressed, thanks in large part to ARC's efforts. "Ten years ago, cybersecurity was a dirty word, and heads were in the sand," said Wylie. "Now, boards of directors are taking an active part in cybersecurity, and it's progressed to become a mainstream topic that can't be ignored, demands action, and is gaining investment, too."
However, because cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, Wylie added that more information sharing is needed by automation professionals, and this call for collaboration was echoed in many of the forum's other presentations, especially OT-IT convergence and OPA.
"To achieve a digitalization strategy, we don't start with technology. We feel the customer's experience, build a foundational platform, and emphasize products over projects incrementally," says Larry Megan, director, Praxair Digital. "Digitalization isn't about more digital devices of software. It's about changing how we do jobs, and using digital to understand and manage those aspects. In our case, we have 1,000 big reciprocating compressors worldwide, so we're finding ways to change their instrumentation by adding high-speed data loggers, seeing when they've changed from their baselines, and getting that data to users.
"There are also less people supporting these applications and facilities now, so we also have to hire the expertise and target their efforts, such as deploying remote diagnostics and augmented reality tools. Also, because 'culture eats strategy for breakfast,' if we don't build a culture that accepts digital technology, then our digitlaization efforts won't succeed."
In the ARC Industry Forum's many press conferences, numerous innovations and solutions were announced, including:
HIMA Group presented recent developments and enhancements to the HIMA Smart Safety Platform (SSP), which it reports is the world’s first scalable safety platform with built-in cybersecurity. By uniformly tailoring hardware and software to each other, SSP lets users reduce the complexity of their systems and buy only what they need. “The four cornerstones of SSP, consisting of hardware, engineering software, firmware and safe communication, are perfectly interwoven, enabling plant operators to reduce the complexity of their safety systems, and stay protected against the ever-increasing risks of accidental and nefarious access,” said Dr. Alexander Horch, VP of R&D and product management at HIMA.
Bedrock Automation highlighted its Open Secure Automation (OSA) Remote controller that combines PLC, PAC, RTU and edge control with intrinsic cybersecurity and universal I/O into one compact module. Each OSA Remote channel can be programmed for analog, discrete and digital connectivity. "We built our security infrastructure with Green Hills and others, so security just happens," said Albert Rooyakkers, automation CTO and engineering vice president, Bedrock Automation. "What's new for this year is OSA proxy to deliver IT technology to the OT domain, secure MQTT Sparkplug B that allow partitioning based on responsibilities, and role-based access control (RPAC)."
Siemens described how its 20 virtual application centers, 300-plus-members and growing global partner ecosystem, and Mendix acquisition enhance its MindSphere connectivity platform. “The real power is closing the loop with IoT and production,” said Bill Boswell, marketing VP, cloud application solutions, Siemens. “A plant may have 20-30 protocols—we connect them all with IoT and the enterprise.”
Bentley Systems presented PlantSight, a digital-twin cloud service jointly developed with Siemens, and introduced last October, which enables up-to-date, as-operated digital twins for synchronizing the real plant and its engineering representations for more efficient process plant operations. “You can use a 3D reality mesh to find 2D images of important components, then use a browser identify them and make ‘dark data’ accessible,” said Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley.
Yokogawa and its subsidiary KBC are integrating KBC knowledge with Yokogawa products and services to help companies meet energy-related carbon emission reduction goals. With KBC, “We're able to provide end-to-end solutions over the entire lifecycle,” said Satoru Kurosu, director and executive VP, premium solutions and services, Yokogawa. A new release of KBC’s Visual MESA Multi-Period Optimizer analytics technology helps reduce costly uncertainty in energy planning, scheduling and trading over multiple time periods. “Based on forecasts, we can decide today the best way to operate the plant over the next few days, making operators as smart as possible,” said Oscar Santollani, senior VP, Visual MESA software, KBC.
Inductive Automation’s Don Pearson, chief strategy officer, and Carl Gould, co-director of software development, previewed the latest version of its automation platform, Ignition 8, which offers expanded functionality, web technologies, enterprise-empowering features and a next-generation visualization system called Ignition Perspective Module that allows users to create appealing, mobile-responsive industrial applications that run natively on any mobile device and any web browser.
GE Digital reminded us of its status as of December as an independent entity helping companies “achieve their IIoT visions with a new layer of analytics for assets and process performance,” said Matt Wells, VP, digital product management, GE Digital. Wells announced a new release of iFIX with an OPC UA server in the SCADA engine to “leverage data beyond traditional SCADA and allow it to be used in IIoT-based solutions.” With its Web HMI and core iFix tag/name database, data can be merged more effectively from different systems and fed up through the OPC UA server.
Aveva announced an update to its Monitoring, Control and Information Management portfolio, delivering edge-to-cloud integration and advanced visualization tools, along with seamless access to applications and analytics. These capabilities are delivered in Aveva’s portfolio that includes InTouch HMI, InTouch Edge HMI, System Platform, Historian and Aveva Insight products, providing enterprise-wide visualization and insight into operations and a degree of commercial flexibility with subscription. “Aveva is committed to partnering with our customers to achieve maximum value from industrial digital transformation," said Craig Hayman, CEO, Aveva. "We enable smarter decisions by creating innovative technology. The latest enhancements in our Monitoring, Control and Information Management portfolio, exemplified by the benefits delivered through the ADNOC Panorama initiative, perfectly illustrate how we're empowering our customers with edge-to-enterprise visibility.”
Honeywell announced the latest release of Secure Media Exchange (SMX), a cybersecurity solution to protect industrial operators against new and emerging Universal Serial Bus (USB) threats. SMX now includes patent-pending capabilities to protect against a broad range of malicious USB device attacks, which disrupt operations through misuse of legitimate USB functions or unauthorized device actions. “Malicious USB attacks are increasingly sinister in their ability to emulate, exploit and manipulate USB devices, often causing damage and operational outages,” said Sam Wilson, global product marketing manager, Honeywell Industrial Cybersecurity. “Honeywell is the first to deliver a powerful industrial cybersecurity solution to protect against malicious USB device attacks, which represent the majority of USB threat types and advanced malware. And as USB usage increases and devices proliferate, human verification of device actions will continue to play an important role.”
Schneider Electric released its EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor, an IIoT-based, digital, process safety platform and service that enables customers to visualize and analyze real-time hazardous events and risks to their enterprise-wide assets, operations and business performance. Safety Advisor is built on Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure SIF Manager application for tracking and validating safety instrumented function (SIF) performance over the life of a plant. It provides a single view into the health and status of the user’s SIFs, which helps to identify potential risks and their impact on operations and performance. “EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor enables users to create a closed-loop safety model that validates actual performance against original design criteria,” said Sven Grone, safety services practice leader, Schneider Electric. “Because they can now accurately predict when safety risks will exceed acceptable thresholds, they're better able to avoid incidents and reduce downtime, while improving the efficiency, reliability and profitability of their operations. At the end of the day, Safety Advisor ramps up our customers’ ability to run safely, comply with safety regulations, and drive measurable results to the bottom line.”