Podcast Engineering Response To Covid 19

Years ago machine and process safety were first ignored and then addressed as an add-on. Then engineers began evaluating the problem and engineered safety from the beginning design. Not only was safety enhanced, but also reliability and productivity improved as well.

We are seeing the same thing already in response to solving problems due to Covid-19. I take a look at a variety of responses just in the first couple of months of the crisis.

This podcast is sponsored by Inductive Automation and its flagship Ignition 8.

Siemens Introduces Workplace Distancing Solution

Suppliers of manufacturing technology have been working diligently for the past couple of months to craft responses to the pandemic engulfing the world. They call these Covid-19 responses. I call them an upgrade to workplace safety. We conquered many safety issues from machines to processes to ergonomics and worker environment. These steps protect workers from each other—or that tiny unseen molecule that can cause much suffering.

This release is from Siemens. In brief:

  • Leveraging its software and hardware, Siemens has developed a unique workplace distancing solution that helps manufacturers to simulate and manage employee exposure risks while enabling productivity throughout their facilities
  • Combination of Siemens’ SIMATIC Real Time Locating Systems and Xcelerator portfolio help enable customers to manufacture with confidence and future-proof their operations

As preparations are made for what Siemens is calling the “next normal”, manufacturers must consider additional dimensions of employee safety, including the establishment of production environments and workflows that address physical distancing requirements.

Combining its hardware and software, Siemens has created a new solution that enables companies to quickly and efficiently model how employees interact with each other, the production line and plant design. The new solution also enables organizations to build an end-to-end digital twin, in order to simulate worker safety, iterate on and optimize workspace layouts and validate safety and efficiency measures to help future-proof production lines.

With Siemens’ SIMATIC Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS), companies can continuously measure distances between workers, provide real time visual feedback to employees regarding their spacing from others and create a log of all movements and interactions over time. In this way the Siemens’ SIMATIC RTLS continuously facilitates safe distancing while providing numerous additional benefits.

Combining Siemens’ SIMATIC RTLS with a digital twin of the actual manufacturing environment permits companies to model and simulate how employees interact with the equipment and each other, enabling them to iterate and optimize safety and productivity in the short term, and validate a redesign of the entire operation before more costly physical changes are made.

“We are helping our customers create a safe work environment, which is extremely important as they look to produce efficiently and reliably under unprecedented circumstances,” said Tony Hemmelgarn, President and CEO of Siemens Digital Industries Software. “The combination of real time distancing management and digital simulations will help companies maintain safe work environments today and make educated decisions about ongoing and long-term optimization.”

In order to implement this solution, Siemens’ SIMATIC RTLS transponders are embedded in badges which are worn as personal protective equipment by all employees. RTLS receivers placed throughout the operation can then continuously track and record workforce movement. When two employees are in a risk scenario (e.g., less than six feet apart), their badges will display a warning, alerting them to the situation.

The data collected over time can be analyzed to identify “hot spots” where risk scenarios occur frequently. Such situations become easily actionable via the digital twin, which is provided by Siemens’ Tecnomatix Process Simulate and Plant Simulation software. Utilizing the collected data, new manufacturing layouts or workflows can be simulated until one is determined to provide the desired outcomes, which can then be implemented in the physical operation.

Beyond this, manufacturers can add traceability to the solution through Siemens’ on-premise solutions or an application such as Siemens’ Trusted Traceability Application on MindSphere, the cloud-based, open IoT operating system from Siemens, which helps enable rapid, comprehensive contact analysis in the unfortunate event of an actual workplace illness. All movement and contact with the affected employee can be visualized, enabling rapid notification of those who came into close contact and selective (rather than site-wide) deep cleaning of exposed physical environments.

“Siemens is providing a powerful, rapidly deployable solution that helps manufacturers take control of their operations and achieve better safety, productivity and cost outcomes today and in the post-Covid era,” said Raj Batra, President of Digital Industries for Siemens USA. “Our solution consists of proven technologies that can begin delivering results for most manufacturers in one to two weeks.”

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.

Intelligent Wearables Solution Improves Compliance, Productivity

Intelligent Wearables Solution Improves Compliance, Productivity

I was working with controls, instrumentation, computers, software when I traded it in for media work first with Control Engineering and then with Automation World. Through a lot of those media years, Honeywell was one of the Big Four or Five in process control and systems. Over the past 6-10 years, those big companies have diverged into differing specialities. It’s been interesting to observe that part of the industrial market.

Honeywell began leveraging expertise of its various divisions into wireless, mobile, and wearables. Much of the emphasis has been safety with a spillover effect into productivity.

Wearables comprise a growing market category with much promise. I’ve had the opportunity to try on a number of different products. These increasingly solve real world problems with ever reducing interference in the real work of the person.

In this latest release, Honeywell announced that Braskem Idesa has adopted a hands-free, wearable connected technology solution at its plant in Veracruz, Mexico. Honeywell’s Intelligent Wearables will allow Braskem Idesa to improve productivity and compliance with process procedures, capture the expertise of experienced workers and provide critical insights and information effectively to trainees and support workers in the field.

Honeywell is delivering a complete outcome-based solution that tracks specific key performance indicators and integrates hardware, software and services, and a full Wi-Fi infrastructure to support use of the solution across the plant. The wearable technology will also accelerate training and ensure safety for field operators at the Braskem Idesa facility.

“With this solution, Braskem Idesa is embracing the digital transformation that will enable us to retain our leadership in the petrochemicals industry,” said Roberto Velasco Gutiérrez, industrial director, Braskem Idesa. “Capturing all the relevant expertise and data within the organization and getting it to workers wherever and whenever needed, will help get trainees safely into the field faster and ensure that every worker operates to Braskem Idesa’s best standards.”

A comprehensive range of applications from Honeywell will boost the speed, safety and reliability of field workers thanks to the following services:

  • Expert on Call: Provides field workers with live, real-time access to experts in the central control room or elsewhere for troubleshooting, support and advice
  • Video support: Enables users to view videos demonstrating key tasks
  • Paperless rounds: Provides step-by-step instructions for common and complex tasks

“Braskem Idesa has not only taken an important step toward Industry 4.0 but has now also replaced paper-based and manual operations with a sophisticated solution that’s both digital and wireless,” said Vincent Higgins, director of technology and innovation, Honeywell Connected Enterprise, Industrial. “Wearable, voice-controlled computer headsets and software eliminate the need for clipboards, pens, and flashlights. Our offering will help Braskem Idesa capture expertise and document critical tasks to ensure operational compliance.”

Honeywell’s solution for field worker competency and productivity enables Braskem Idesa to tie its plant performance directly to the performance of its workers, critical to the success of any industrial enterprise. By connecting field workers with remote advice, Honeywell Intelligent Wearables also reduce the need for site visits from experts, empower workers to continue learning, become their best and effectively share their knowledge with peers.

Last of ARC Industry Forum Interview Notes

Last of ARC Industry Forum Interview Notes

ARC’s annual Industry Forum gathering provided an opportunity rare these days of meeting with a wide variety of people and companies. Today’s post summarizes most of the rest of information gathered not previously published.

Interestingly, IIoT was not a major theme. Perhaps it underlies the other things. Most of the time we talked security and software. This round up involves Schneider Electric, Bedrock Automation, Bentley Systems, Siemens, and ioTium.

Profitable Safety for Industry

Schneider Electric has announced 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 safety instrumented functions, which helps to identify potential risks and their impact on operations performance.

It also identifies the need to take corrective action via easy-to-understand performance dashboards and leading indicators for safety health and then documents the entire process using an embedded SIF audit trail that supports safety compliance.

Safety Advisor enables customers to understand their risks within minutes, and then act decisively to drive better business results.

Bedrock Automation

Albert Rooyakkers, Bedrock Automation CEO, pointed to advances with Bedrock’s offering including “Zero Cost Software”, having an OSA Proxy, using MQTT Sparkplug-B secure, Role-Based access control, and a partnership with SI firm Wood Group.

Wood’s automation and control group will deliver Bedrock Open Secure Automation (OSA) to its clients in energy and industrial markets. Wood has active membership in The Open Process Automation Forum, which is focused on the development of a standards-based, open, secure, interoperable process control architecture.

“This partnership centers on combining our diverse capabilities and innovative solutions in automation with Bedrock’s OSAtechnology to bring open and secure systems to our clients, advancing our position as a world leading automation providerand bringing greater cyber protection to our client’s projects,” said Jeff Shannon, Senior Manager of Strategy and Development in Wood’s automation and control group.

Planning and Design Assessment Solutions for Grid Modernization

Bentley Systems announced availability of OpenUtilities DER Planning & Design Assessment Solutions that provide decision support and cost-based models and simulations for Distributed Energy Resources (DER) integration.

In partnership with Siemens’ Digital Grid business unit, OpenUtilities Solutions for DER empowers electric utilities, electricity suppliers, and distribution network operators (DSO) with software applications to analyze, design, and evaluate DER interconnection requests through desktop and cloud-based services, while supporting the reliability and resilience of network operations.

The solutions generate an electrical digital twin for utilities – a GIS digital twin that enables owner/operators to more efficiently model the grid for decentralized energy without compromising safety and reliability. Digital twins can provide huge efficiencies in grid operations by streamlining DER interconnection applications with optimized workflows to better assess operational impacts, long-term strategic scenarios and investment decisions.

OpenUtilities Design Optioneering advances OpenUtilities Analysis one step further with cost-based decision support for planning and designing complex utility networks with DER. The application provides the ability to analyze both planned and existing infrastructure, optimize equipment sizing, and estimate materials and labor costs for DER projects. This helps utilities minimize design construction costs associated with DER and streamline the DER interconnection process with detailed cost estimation included with the impact analysis studies.

ioTium

Finally, I talked with Ron Victor of ioTium. The product consists of a soft node on, for example, a Dell Gateway device providing baked-in security. It runs as server in cloud enabling easier deployment.

ioTium’s IoT network isolates IT and OT network and data, preventing IT traffic from touching OT traffic and thus eliminating the possibility of backdoor threats. Further, ioTium isolates data streams from different sub-systems, preventing a compromise on one sub-system from affecting any other sub-system.

ioTium’s virtualized edge platform enables deployment, update and upgrade of edge services across thousands of remote sites in one click from the cloud, making analytics, DPI, machine learning, encryption, compression and more possible closer to the data source.

Edge Computing and IIoT Platforms and More At ARC Forum

Edge Computing and IIoT Platforms and More At ARC Forum

Let me try to summarize a number of other news items gleaned from the ARC Forum featuring edge computing, IIoT Platforms, and technology. When ARC’s Paul Miller told me it would be the best ever, he turned out not to be exaggerating. More people, more news.

Stratus Technologies, known for years for secure servers, released an edge computing device. Interest in computing at the edge of the network has blossomed lately, with many companies releasing products. Lots of choices for users.

Integration Objects, firmly within another important trend, introduced an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Platform. I’m beginning to see articles about users latching on to these platforms rather than building their own ad hoc connections among IoT devices and applications.

UL discussed standards with me during the show. The company known for developing safety standards and then testing for compliance has developed also a security standard. And it tests to it for compliance.

HIMA is another company combining safety and security technologies. There is so much in common between the two–especially thought processes and planning.

Yokogawa has extended and rebranded its process automation offering, now called Synaptic Business Automation. Among other things, it has refined the dashboard into a “karaoke” style.

Bentley Systems discussed the combining of engineering design tools with digital photography and other digital technologies to better represent the engineering and design of a plant. This is the most cutting edge technology I saw during the week, but I cannot do it justice in a paragraph. I encourage a tour of the Website.