Continual Market Development Pays Off For Process Control Supplier

Continual Market Development Pays Off For Process Control Supplier

I have known Eddie Habibi, founder and CEO of PAS (now PAS Global) for about 20 years. So I’ve followed the development of his company for that long. There was alarm management, and process safety, and process asset management. And the company grew at a typical pace for the market.

Then he went all-in on process control system cybersecurity. He accepted some investment money, hired some pros in the field, and combined security with what the company was already known for.

The results are in the latest press release from PAS Global LLC where it announced a 45% increase in term revenue year-over-year and increased market recognition of its solutions.

In March 2019, the company introduced an expanded Cyber Integrity offering with risk analytics for continuous operational technology (OT) endpoint security. Following this milestone, the company marked record growth in the adoption of this solution across multiple geographies and verticals including the United States, Europe, and the Middle East with leading organizations in the chemicals and oil & gas industries, in particular.

A Fortune 50 independent petroleum refiner was challenged with increasing cybersecurity risks as they deployed connected technology to achieve faster and more efficient production operations. PAS Cyber Integrity was deployed as the foundation for the refiner’s OT cybersecurity program to create an automated, comprehensive, evergreen OT asset inventory and to more quickly identify and remediate security vulnerabilities. What used to take the company months to assess “critical” or “high” ICS-CERT vulnerabilities can now be done in minutes across all refineries.

A global, integrated oil & gas company operating across five continents is pursuing digital transformation to grow its business, enter new markets, and compete more effectively. Underpinning this initiative is a cloud-based analytics platform. The team chartered with this program sought to leverage their multi-vendor industrial control system (ICS) data and ensure reliable data flows from field-level devices to their data lake. They sought a platform-independent solution that could not only deliver this data, but also provide a topological view of assets and site connections, monitor configuration baselines, and manage change. Additionally, the company’s cybersecurity team sought a solution that could provide comprehensive OT asset inventory and rapid vulnerability assessment capabilities. PAS Automation Integrity and Cyber Integrity were selected to address these needs.

A major electronic materials firm with operations in North America and Asia sought to establish an enterprise-wide cybersecurity program on an aggressive schedule to eliminate gaps in visibility and security controls. Cyber Integrity was selected to automatically build a detailed OT asset inventory for each site, identify patch levels across systems, and implement change management workflows. The company now has the inventory and configuration visibility it needs to support digitalization efforts including data lake, 5G, and artificial intelligence initiatives.

“Industrial organizations are increasing investment in cybersecurity solutions specifically built for OT not only to reduce their overall cyber risk but to ensure they can accelerate their digital transformation efforts safely,” said Eddie Habibi, Founder and CEO of PAS. “We are pleased to be working with a growing list of global companies who are leveraging PAS Cyber Integrity to give them the foundation they need for managing industrial cyber risk.”

The company also saw significant year-over-year growth in purchases of its operations management and process safety solution, PlantState Suite.

“Of equal importance is the work we do to help companies improve process safety through effective operations management,” Habibi added. “We are pleased to have been recognized once again as the market leader for both alarm management and safety lifecycle management. This is a testament to the hard work of the PAS team over many years and the confidence our customers place in our solutions.”

PAS cybersecurity and process safety management solutions are installed in more than 70 countries in over 1,450 industrial facilities for over 535 customers, including 13 of the top 15 chemical companies, 13 of the top 15 refining companies, 7 of the top 20 power generation companies, 4 of the top 5 pulp and paper companies, and 3 of the top 5 mining companies in the world.

Continual Market Development Pays Off For Process Control Supplier

Software Partnerships Boosts Digital Engineering

Next to acquisitions, partnerships are driving actions among major digital industrial supplier players. With today’s announcement, Aras, who labels itself “the only resilient platform provider for digital industrial applications,” announced a strategic partnership with ANSYS that includes the licensing of the Aras platform technology to enable the next generation of digital engineering practices.

When we last saw ANSYS on this blog, Rockwell Automation had announced a partnership to enhance its digital twin and simulation offering.

ANSYS will leverage the underlying Aras platform technologies such as configuration management, PDM/PLM interoperability, API integration, and add simulation specific capabilities to deliver highly scalable and configurable products that connect simulation and optimization to the business of engineering — creating new ways of exploring and improving product performance.

Organizations increasingly expect to leverage simulation throughout the product lifecycle to interoperate with their existing PLM, ALM, and ERP applications. Additionally, customers must address scale and complexity challenges with data and process management, traceability and availability of simulation results across the lifecycle.

ANSYS is leveraging Aras’ resilient platform services combined with its simulation domain expertise and technology for new product offerings to improve productivity and maximize business value from simulation investments. ANSYS will deliver commercial offerings for simulation process and data management, process integration, design optimization, and simulation-driven data science.

“With our open ecosystem approach, this unique collaboration combines the strengths of ANSYS’ industry-leading multiphysics portfolio and the resilient platform from Aras for digital connectivity to dramatically enhance customer value,” said Navin Budhiraja, vice president of cloud and platform business unit, ANSYS. “As simulation technologies impact every product decision, we see the ability of ANSYS solutions to interoperate and link with heterogeneous systems as an important step to accelerate the digital transformation for our customers.”

“We believe that simulation is essential to developing tomorrow’s next generation products, and that better data and process management of simulations is required to enable the digital processes of the future which will support these products,” said Peter Schroer, president and CEO, Aras. “We see the ANSYS and Aras partnership as a potential game changer in connecting simulation to engineering processes for traceability, access and reuse across the product lifecycle.”

Continual Market Development Pays Off For Process Control Supplier

Manufacturing Trends to Watch

Despite use of the word disruptive in a significant number of press releases, I expect few, if any, truly disruptive manufacturing technologies. Things simply take some time from conception to adolescence to maturity. Products I’ve seen that looked disruptive often didn’t make it due to executive incompetence or lack of vision (same thing).

Watching the flow of press releases and conversations from technology developers, here are a few thoughts for the near future.

I expect to see Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) increasingly integrated as part of overall manufacturing process. The process is getting stable and tolerances are becoming tighter. More than just for manufacturing obsolete parts for service, it will become simply another tool in the discrete manufacturing process.

One non-technology trend that is happening now and I expect it to become nearly ubiquitous except maybe in the “laggard” companies concerns management making a concerted effort to break down department silos and foster teams–not a technology thing but a people thing. Looking at technology for the infamous IT/OT convergence is like looking for a vegetarian in a pork processing factory.

Everyone talks around Artificial Intelligence (AI) as if either the utopian or dystopian future is at hand. Yet when I analyze the opinions, real knowledge of AI is scarce. I expect ever increased integration of Machine Learning and Neural Net technology into automation and operations workflow. We most likely won’t even realize it. Just as my generation brought PCs into businesses and manufacturing first almost as a gimmick and then a generally used tool, Alexa or Siri for manufacturing workflow will just be there.

Improved data analysis leading to improved interactive visualization including AR. I put a lot in this sentence. For a reason. I think data collection, analysis, and visualization are tied together. Why collect data if we don’t run it through some analysis filters and then use it? How do we prepare data for utility unless we continually develop useable visualization? And Augmented Reality might become part of that visualization solution. The jury is still out there.

The entry of major IT players deeply into manufacturing at the OT as well as IT area brings with it more power and connectivity in edge devices. This circumventing of the Purdue Model will continue unabated. We see the major automation players realizing that the automation and control systems are not the ideal gateway for all (just some) process data to enterprise decision-making systems and either partnering or developing for the edge.

It goes without saying that cyber security is becoming more core to engineering at the manufacturing OT level. A press release just came through announcing Rockwell Automation is acquiring an Israeli security company. Expect to see more of that.

One more thing concerns the way software and service are now being bought and sold. And also hardware in many respects. For software, the trend, perhaps begun by Inductive Automation some 16 years ago (note: it is a sponsor), to not buying seat licenses but of buying usage or software-as-a-service is spreading—finally. A stable cloud helps. The experience of Salesforce propelled the idea. This year Hewlett Packard Enterprise put far more than its toe in the water.

I enjoy interviews, but seldom just take random comments through PR people, but a timely email regarding ideas from Gary Brooks, CMO at Syncron that a combination of technology and flexible consumption plans are propelling Product-as-a-Service fits this mold. I first heard of this idea seriously somewhere around 1998. Customers now expect it.

Last, but maybe first, is the pursuit of sustainable products and processes. I wrote several articles and commissioned others about this way back when I was at Automation World. Recently I heard iPod, iPhone, Nest developer Tony Fadell (@tfadell) on the Tim Ferriss (@tferriss) podcast. It was a great interview worth listening to in its entirety. But his passion was really aroused when he talked about his research into sustainable packaging—eliminating plastics.

Brooks also mentioned sustainability.

This is an area I have shirked for a while. Perhaps I’ll start up a newsletter or something (great if I could get a sponsor) to further this discussion from our point of view. With so many billions of humans in the world, our impact on the environment is cumulative and wreaking havoc.

What should I be adding?

Continual Market Development Pays Off For Process Control Supplier

A Decade of Digitalization

I give up. To me, the end of the decade is next year figuring there was not a year 0, then the beginning of the new calendar was year 1 and the end of the first decade was year 10. Oh, well, mainstream media just can’t wait to jump into wrap-up frenzy. So, me, too.

The last 10 years in industrial technology was busy with new buzz words—heavier on marketing than on substance in many ways. We breezed through Industrie 4.0 with its cyber-physical systems. Then we had Internet of Things borrowed from the consumer, largely iPhone, space. But borrowing from GE advertising of the “Industrial Internet”, the “Industrial Internet of Things” became originally the European counterpoint to Germany’s Industry 4.0 and then grew into general adoption.

Not finished with all this buzz, the industry discovered “digital”. We had digital twin (derived from cyber-physical systems). But these had to be connected with the digital thread. And all led into a digital transformation.

Let’s take a look at some specific topics.

Innovation

Much of the foundation was laid in the decade before. Maybe I should say decades. The industry started digitizing in the 1980s. It’s been building ever since. Through the first decade of this millennium great strides were made in control technology, usability, sensors (both sensitivity and communication), networks moving from analog to digital and through field buses to Ethernet.

In this decade, most companies grew by acquisition of smaller, innovative companies and start-ups. The remaining automation giants pieced together strategies based on visions of which companies to acquire and what customer solutions were required. Looking ahead, I’m considering what additional consolidation to anticipate. I think there will be more as the market does not seem to be growing dramatically.

Most innovation came in the realm of data. Decreasing costs of memory, networking stacks, and other silicon enabled leaps in ability to accumulate and communicate data. Borrowing software advances from IT, historians and relational databases grew more powerful along with new types of data handling and analysis coming from the “big data” and powerful analytics technologies.

Another IT innovation that finally hit industrial companies was adoption of “cloud” with the eventual development of edge. Instead of the Purdue Enterprise Reference Model of the control/automation equipment being the gateway of all data from the processes, companies began to go sensor to cloud, so to speak, breaking down the rigidity of PERA thinking.

Digital Everything

It is now old news that digital is everywhere. And, it is not a sudden development. It has been building for 30 years. Like all technology, it builds over time until it’s suddenly everywhere. The question is no longer what is becoming digital, nor is it speculating over marketing terms like digital transformation.

The question about digital everything is precisely how are we to use it to make things better for humans and society.

Sensors—At least by 2003, if not before, I was writing about the converging trends in silicon of smaller and less expensive networking, sensing, processing, and memory chips and stacks that would enable an explosion of ubiquitous sensing. It’s not only here; it is everywhere. Not only in manufacturing, but also in our homes and our palms.

Design—CAD, CAM, PLM have all progressed in power and usability. Most especially have been the development of data protocols that allow the digital data output of these applications to flow into operations and maintenance applications. Getting as-built and as-designed to align improves maintenance and reliability along with uptime and productivity. And not only in a single plant, but in an extended supply chain.

Networking—The emergence of fast, reliable, and standardized networking is the backbone of the new digital enterprise. It is here and proven.

Software—Emergence of more powerful databases, including even extension of historians, along with data conversion protocols and analysis tools provides information presented in an easily digestible form so that better decisions may be made throughout the extended enterprise.

IT/OT

Industry press have talked about IT/OT convergence until we are all sick of the phrase. Add to that stories of in-fighting between the organizations, and you have the making of good stories—but not of reality or providing a path to what works. As Operations Technology (OT) has become increasingly digital, it inevitably overlaps the Information Technology (IT) domain. Companies with good management have long since taken strides to foster better working relationships breaking the silos. Usually a simple step such as moving the respective manager’s offices close to each other to foster communication helps.

New Entrants

Speaking of IT and OT, the modification of the Purdue Enterprise Reference Modal to show data flowing from the plant/sensor level directly to the “cloud” for enterprise IT use has enticed new entrants into manufacturing technology.

If we are not forced to go through the control system to provide data for MES, MOM, ERP, CRS, and the like, then perhaps the IT companies such as Dell Technologies, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Hitachi Vantara can develop their compute platforms, partnerships, and software to provide that gateway between plant floor and enterprise without disturbing the control platform.

Therefore we are witnessing proliferating partnerships among IT and OT automation suppliers in order to provide complete solutions to customers.

Strategy

Remember—it is all meaningless unless it gets translated into intelligent action to make the manufacturing supply chain more productive with better quality and more humane.

Continual Market Development Pays Off For Process Control Supplier

Is the IoT In Danger of Splintering?

I picked this news item up from The Economist Espresso app.

For years, technologists have gushed about the promise of the “Internet of Things”, enabling ordinary objects—from kettles to cargo ships—to communicate autonomously with each other. The two essential technologies speeding the IOT’s arrival, inexpensive sensors and super-fast networking kit, are advancing rapidly. Gartner, a research group, predicts that the global number of devices embedded with sensors will leap from 8.4bn in 2017 to 20.4bn in 2020. So is 5G, a telecoms-networking technology superior to today’s 4G mobile networks. But the world’s 5G system could split into two different and potentially incompatible entities. One has been developed by Huawei, a Chinese telecoms-equipment giant, at a cost of $46bn. But some are worried about the company’s links to the Chinese Communist Party. Several countries, led by America, have banned the use of Huawei’s gear in their systems for security reasons. The year 2020 could herald the arrival of the Splinternet of Things.

I daresay that most likely many countries in the world are concerned about the ability of the US government to monitor internet traffic through the technology of American companies. These swords always cut two ways when you take the larger view.

More relevant to this topic, though, could a potential splintering into two 5G systems globally impact IoT?

In the short term from what I can gather interviewing technologists, benefits from 5G will accrue from the ability for private, plant-wide broadband rather than from some global linking of sensors.

Perhaps we are a bit early for journalists’ raising fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Listening to people actually building out the technology, I think we are going to experience much benefit from 5G in the not-to-distant future.

Continual Market Development Pays Off For Process Control Supplier

US Government Smart Manufacturing Institute

I met John Dyck, an old friend from a couple of manufacturing software suppliers and former chair of MESA International, for lunch before Christmas to catch up on what’s happening at his latest gig—CEO of CESMII-The Smart Manufacturing Institute.

The leadership of the organization includes a few people I knew when I was following the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition several years ago. Primarily Jim Davis of UCLA who remains a leader and driving force for smart manufacturing in the US. (See this post, for example.)

Germany may have kicked off government-sponsored research for advanced manufacturing with Industrie 4.0, with China following, and then many others. CESMII along with several sister institutes embodies the US effort to promote smart manufacturing here.

I was aware of the formation of this and other institutes. In the ensuing couple of years, much has happened. John caught me up on progress, and I think you’ll see several progress updates here during 2020.

Following is some background and recent news from the Institute. It labels itself a Network of Networks. “CESMII is about transformation, made possible by collaboration. At our very essence is bringing together individuals, organizations and technologies to create one greater good.”

The term Smart Manufacturing (SM) seems to have caught on in the US as a label for the technologies and strategies involving the digital transformation. Some organizations such as MESA International and SME have embraced it, for example. According to CESMII, “Smart Manufacturing enables all information about the manufacturing process to be available when it is needed, where it is needed, and in the form it is needed across the entire manufacturing value-chain to power smart decisions. Islands of efficiency become interoperable, networked, and resilient solutions to drive transformational manufacturing enterprise performance for any size, level of technical sophistication, or resource availability at lower cost.”

Further, “Smart Manufacturing unlocks real-time data currently inaccessible or unused through new technology tools that realize benefits faster across the manufacturing enterprise.”

In recent news, CESMII announced plans to formally launch an Affinity Group focused on the needs of small-to-medium sized manufacturing enterprises (SMEs). This announcement is a continuation of the institute’s efforts to engage and empower smaller manufacturers, further demonstrated by CESMII’s previous commitment to make institute-directed project funds available in 2020 to small-to-medium enterprises, as appropriate.

CESMII CEO, John Dyck, said of the announcement, “CESMII’s first order of business is to democratize Smart Manufacturing, making it available to companies of all sizes. Small-to-medium manufacturers represent the overwhelming majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S., and it’s critically important we hear their voice and rise to their challenges. The new SME Affinity Group we’re launching and the potential funding we’re willing to allocate show how important we believe smaller manufacturers are to the revitalization of U.S. manufacturing and the strength of our nation.”

A CESMII Affinity Group is a group of members from the CESMII membership base that has an interest in a particular manufacturing sector or problem and works collaboratively to share experiences, perspectives and best practices. Affinity Groups are charged with examining a manufacturing sector or problem strategically, and its members bring their unique abilities, capabilities, and interests to engage the CESMII ecosystem, as needed or desired. Further, Affinity Groups formulate the proper approach to the manufacturing sector or problem for the application of Smart Manufacturing (SM) technologies or Education & Workforce Development (EWD) deliverables. There is no guarantee of CESMII project funds being allocated to any Affinity Group, but input from these groups provides direction for the Institute’s strategies and priorities.

Mr. Dyck continued, “CESMII has the mandate and the ability to empower smaller manufacturers to compete as 21st-century leaders. We are willing to launch a focused Affinity Group for small-to-medium manufacturers to show that we’re here for these companies and believe in them. We’re even willing to apportion a percentage of our project funding to support their needs. But, we need them to engage and lend their voice to shape our plans. We won’t release funds without well thought-out plans we expect will deliver value. We encourage all small-to-medium size manufacturers to come and be a part of our Smart Manufacturing ecosystem.”

About CESMII

CESMII is the United States’ national institute on Smart Manufacturing, driving cultural and technological transformation and secure industrial solutions as national imperatives. By enabling frictionless movement of information – raw and contextualized data – between real-time Operations and the people and systems that create value in and across Manufacturing organizations, CESMII is ensuring the power of information and innovation is at the fingertips of everyone who touches manufacturing.

The Institute is accelerating Smart Manufacturing (SM) adoption through the integration of advanced sensors, data (ingestion – contextualization – modeling – analytics), platforms and controls to radically impact manufacturing performance, through measurable improvements in areas such as: Quality, throughput, costs/profitability, safety, asset reliability and energy productivity. CESMII’s program and administrative home is with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

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