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Evolving to More Open, Secure and Integrated Automation
November 23, 2020 | Robert Bergman
Bedrock Fellow Sam Galpin was one of 10 automation experts collaborating in the development of Automation World’s 2020 PRODUCT SELECTION & APPLIED TECHNOLOGY HANDBOOK. The handbook covers a wide range of topics including how controllers are adapting to the digital age, integration of motion control, selecting process sensors, updating process control software and cyber security. Although the authors represented a broad spectrum of automation solutions, there was general concurrence throughout the handbook on the importance of more open, secure, and integrated automation. Here are some excerpts from each of the chapters:
From “How Controllers are Adapting to Industry’s Digital Transformation” chapter:
“… new automation applications will require controllers to have additional features and capabilities. These new requirements include data processing at the edge, the ability to directly interact with business and cloud software, information technology (IT) compatibility and, most importantly, cybersecurity.”
“IT compatibility and security used to be afterthoughts in the controller purchasing process, but digital transformation initiatives now make them essential. Additionally, controllers must support applications and programming languages that permit edge data processing and direct interaction with business systems. Modern controllers must be first-class citizens on business networks as well as control systems.”
From: Key Aspects of Motion Control Integration chapter
“When defining motion control system requirements, it’s useful to let the manufacturer know what other components you’re planning to use in the system, so they can offer the easiest integration options first. As far as motor sizing and selection goes, be sure to provide the most accurate parameters to aid sizing accuracy. And be sure to discuss your application requirements as well. Sometimes, standard built-in driver functions can eliminate some R&D efforts.”
From: Selecting Process Sensors chapter
“Digital communications such as EtherNet/IP and Profinet are becoming more popular with the demand for digitally connected devices. These digital communications allow you to transmit all the variables mentioned above plus advanced diagnostics and monitoring functionality. The ability to combine these digital communications with standard analog 4-20 mA or pulse outputs provides complete functionality for any application. For those applications where digital communications are not feasible, there are other options, such as OPC UA connectivity on devices to support customers who want to get device information simply and directly to a cloud.
From: Selecting an IIoT Platform chapter
“… an IoT platform must be able to scale efficiently to accommodate new network nodes that will be added over time as well. The platform should scale smoothly whether the number of data-producing field devices increases over time or the number and demand of data-consuming business applications increases. Keep in mind that scalability can be restricted by overreliance on proprietary technologies that inhibit interoperability and inflate costs, or a lack of security and reliability features.”
“In addition to reducing the complexity of industrial integration, another important aspect a viable IoT platform should have is security. Traditional automation integration systems left this as an afterthought, resulting in complex firewall schemes and network segmentation that further complicate integration efforts.”
“Increasingly open technologies like MQTT are being suggested as a priority consideration over proprietary technologies because of the potential impact on scalability. Industrial automation has long been hampered by vendors’ desires to monopolize industrial data, resulting in vendor lock-in and inflating project costs, and long-term operating overhead. “
“… as a matter of course, systems can’t scale unless they are reliable. If data are vulnerable to corruption by cyberattack, power failure, or systemic instability, users won’t trust their data to an IoT platform or invest their money in expanding it.”
From: Is Your Process Control Software Up to Date? Chapter.
“… technology is no longer advancing incrementally—which more easily allows older systems to stay in place. Today’s technology is leapfrogging itself in capabilities compared to previous levels of advancement.”
“Another important advance is the improved ability to integrate DCSs with the office network and make real-time and historical data available to anyone in the organization. New DCSs provide the tools to turn this data into useful information, leading to improvements in site productivity.”
From: Assessing Cybersecurity chapter.
“With industrial automation devices increasingly being connected as part of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 initiatives, a thorough understanding of cybersecurity threats and ways to guard against them have become basic requirements for the successful use of automation technology.”
“Regardless of how the intruder accesses the operations technology (OT), the best defense is to be certain they have nowhere to go if they do get in. To instantiate this and provide the best protection possible, your system should have advanced authentication and encryption routines built in, making unauthorized access to any command and control capabilities impossible.”
“Of course, any decision to purchase add-on cyber security tools should be evaluated in the context of whether your basic control system is itself secure. If it does not have advanced security built it to its electronics, the protection gained from any added tools will be severely limited.”
“To start off your IT/OT cooperation on the right foot, focus first on operational risks, not the network. For both attackers and operations, the network is the means, not an end in itself. Therefore, focus on the physical consequences of the cyber incident. What happens on the plant floor? How are you going to respond and recover? What are the operational requirements?”
Access the entire handbook here.