I don’t do many product posts here–usually only when I’m at a conference and the host company unleashes a year’s worth of announcements. But I met with Eddie Habibi, the CEO of PAS, while I was in Phoenix last week and got an in-depth look at the company’s latest product. I think this is one of those new products that push the automation envelop.

Management of change is a pain. Once in my career, I was in charge of the entire product change management system. I’ve lived with the results of undocumented change in control systems. I bet most of you have, too. PAS, through its Integrity platform, is trying to automate the system in such a way as to provide extensive tracking along with the ability for users to easily find the changes.

This week PAS announced the release of Integrity iMOC, “the next evolution in electronic Management of Change (MOC) software.” The company maintains that iMOC ensures that all changes made to a plant’s automation systems are detected and reconciled with specific management of change cases.

As Habibi told me, “While most countries have regulations governing management of change for such things as process chemicals, equipment, documents, facilities, and procedures, few have specified requirements for management of change for automation systems. As a general rule, if an automation change affects other items that clearly require change management, then a rigorous MOC process is to be followed. However, critical changes are often made to automation systems with no record of whether they were approved or not, leaving the systems vulnerable as these undocumented changes carry the potential to be destructive. Only by ensuring that all configuration changes (except for the most fundamental changes required to operate the plant, such as setpoints, outputs, and control modes) are included in the MOC process and reconciled against outstanding MOC cases, can companies be certain their automation systems are secure.”

“Undocumented and unapproved changes to automation systems have been identified as contributing factors in a number of process industry incidents and accidents,” said PAS President Chris Lyden. “With the advent of new viruses that affect the interaction of controls with the process, ensuring that all automation configuration changes are detected and reconciled with MOC cases is an essential element of control system security.”

Integrity iMOC provides a graphical environment for the definition of MOC workflows, which includes describing each state within the workflows, as well as the checklists and required transitions for the states. As an Integrity-enabled application, iMOC takes full advantage of the capabilities of PAS’ Integrity software, which maps the configuration of more than 50 different automation systems and tracks all changes to them. Additionally, it reduces the time required for engineers to acquire design information, since it automatically identifies all links and interdependencies for any automation entity under change management.

As part of the installation services for Integrity iMOC, PAS can integrate it with a plant’s existing MOC system, configuring it to act as a subordinate to that system. PAS can also implement an S95-compliant plant asset hierarchy to link MOC cases to specific parts of the plant as is often done in general MOC systems.

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