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.

Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

Inductive Automation has selected the recipients of its Ignition Firebrand Awards for 2019. The announcements were made at the Ignition Community Conference (ICC), which took place September 17-19. I get to see the poster displays and chat with the companies at ICC. I love the technology developers, but it’s fascinating to talk with people who actually use the products.

[Disclaimer: Inductive Automation is a long-time and much appreciated sponsor of The Manufacturing Connection. If you are a supplier, you, too, could be a sponsor. Contact me for more details. You would benefit from great visibility.]

The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators and industrial organizations that use the Ignition software platform to create innovative new projects. Ignition by Inductive Automation is an industrial application platform with tools for the rapid development of solutions in human-machine interface (HMI), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), manufacturing execution systems (MES), and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Ignition is used in virtually every industry, in more than 100 countries.

“The award-winning projects this year were really impressive,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Many of them featured Ignition 8 and the new Ignition Perspective Module, both of which were released just six months ago. We were really impressed with how quickly people were able to create great projects with the new capabilities.”

These Ignition Firebrand Award winners demonstrated the power and flexibility of Ignition:

  • Brock Solutions worked with the Dublin Airport in Ireland to replace the baggage handling system in Terminal 2. The new system has 100,000 tags and is the largest Ignition-controlled airport baggage handling system in the world.
  • Corso Systems & SCS Engineers partnered on a pilot project for the landfill gas system of San Bernardino County, California. The pilot was so successful, it will be expanded to 27 other county sites. It provides a scalable platform with strong mobile capabilities from Ignition 8 and Ignition Perspective, plus 3D imaging from drone video and virtual reality applications.
  • ESM Australia developed a scalable asset management system to monitor performance and meet service requirements for a client with systems deployed all over Australia. The solution leveraged Ignition 8, Ignition Perspective, MQTT, and legacy FTP-enabled gateways in the field.
  • H2O Innovation & Automation Station partnered to create a SCADA system for the first membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment plant in Arkansas. The new system for the City of Decatur shares real-time data with neighboring water agencies as well as the mayor.
  • Industrial Networking Solutions created a new oil & gas SCADA system in just six months for 37 sites at ARB Midstream. The solution included hardware upgrades, a new control room, and a diverse collection of technologies with cloud-hosted SCADA, MQTT, Ignition Edge, and SD-WAN.
  • MTech Engineering developed an advanced real-time monitoring and control system for the largest data center campus in Italy. The project for Aruba S.p.A. had to work with huge amounts of data — and was done at a much lower cost than was possible with any other SCADA solution.
  • NLS Engineering created a single, powerful operations and management platform for more than 30 solar-power sites for Ecoplexus, a leader in renewable energy systems. The solution provided deep data acquisition, included more than 100,000 tags, and led to the creation of a platform that can be offered to other clients.
  • Streamline Innovations used Ignition, Ignition Edge, Ignition Perspective, and MQTT, to facilitate the automation of natural gas treating units that convert extremely toxic hydrogen sulfide into fertilizer-grade sulfur. The solution increased uptime, reduced costs, and provided access to much more data than Streamline had seen previously.
Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

FDT IIoT Server Standard to Empower Platform Independent Deployment

Another group validates standards for industrial communication including FDT and OPC UA.

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit standards association supporting the evolution of FDT technology (IEC 62453), announced that its Board of Directors voted unanimously to empower the emerging FDT IIoT Server (FITS) architecture with full platform independence. This decision strengthens the FITS architecture to support the diverse array of operating systems to meet industry-driven demands.

In addition to platform independence, key features of the FITS solution include native integration of the OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA), as well as comprehensive Control and Web Services interfaces. With built-in security protecting valuable information and operating data, the FITS platform will enable cloud, enterprise, on-premise, and a single-user desktop deployment method meeting the needs of the process, hybrid and discrete manufacturing sectors.

“The FITS platform is the ‘game changer’ the automation industry has been anticipating,” said Glenn Schulz, managing director of FDT Group. “I’d like to thank our Architecture and Specification Working Group that worked behind the scenes investigating and prototyping the platform independence feature approved by our board.”

Schulz added, “The Architecture and Specification Working Group has been directed to immediately transition FDT Server Common Components to a pure .NET Core implementation, previously built on the Microsoft .NET Framework. This transition will result in a single FDT Server environment deployable on a Microsoft-, Linux-, or macOS-based operating system, which will empower the intelligent enterprise by bridging the current installed base with next-generation solutions supporting the IIoT and I4.0 era.”

The significant decision and direction allows nearly unlimited deployment and application scenarios. For example, cloud-based FDT Servers can enjoy the performance and cost benefits of a Linux operating system. Traditional control system vendors can offer the FDT Server embedded in their hardware, and machine builders can deploy a small Linux-based FDT Server offering a comprehensive preconfigured asset management system for their skid that can be securely accessed remotely or with smart phones or browsers.

MES applications can also incorporate an FDT Server to gain secure, direct access to production data and asset health and availability metrics through OPC UA. In addition, service providers can wrap services around an FDT Server delivered in an industrial hardened Linux box. The opportunities for cost savings and value creation goes on due to the highly flexible deployment options of the FITS standard.

Because of the security, scalability and the ease of deployment of an FDT Server, the solution will simplify entry into the IIoT marketplace as the only open platform standardized integration architecture providing a single interface with cloud-to-plant floor mobile access. The decision to migrate to platform independence will delay the launch of the FITS specification by approximately six months. With the launch planned for the latter half of 2019, alongside Common Components supporting the FITS standard, automation suppliers and service providers will immediately reap the benefits of a quick development and deployment strategy. Common Components create a library of FDT routines and will simplify compliant development of FITS-based solutions such as Servers, Device Type Managers (DTMs) and APPs.

The final standard will be delivered as three documents: the FDT 2.5 specification, which builds on FDT 2.1 to include HTML5 and JavaScript graphical user interface features; the FITS Web Services Technical Specification, which describes the Web Services interfaces and requirements for an FDT Server; and the OPC UA Annex detailing the OPC UA Server mapping for an FDT Server.

Inductive Automation Announces Ignition Firebrand Awards

Schneider Electric Foxboro Holds Conference, Details Strategy

Foxboro and Triconex looks to be on the path to health under Schneider Electric. Its annual user conference is this week in San Antonio. I‘d love to be there, but personally more important is “grandparent duty” that I’m on this week. So, I had the opportunity to talk with Gary Freburger, leader of the group, and Peter Martin, VP of marketing, to get an update and view of what I’ll be missing.

Gary Freburger began with the market rebounding due to current oil pricing. Business is starting to get strong. IA product line has done well and the process business also did well going up 6% in the first half of the year. He’s expecting majority of growth over the next two years. Schneider Electric is still investing around EcoStruxure system. Foxboro is continuing on the path they discussed with us at the last user conference—how to get more value from control systems going from “necessary evil” to value add in the eyes of customer executives. The strategy is to turn data and connectivity into a business driver. The goal is enabling better decisions and improving profitability.

Freburger discussed cooperating with OPAF for a comprehensive strategy. Then he dropped in an interesting tidbit—cooperation with AVEVA. I’ve wondered about how AVEVA with the inclusion of previous Schneider Electric software would work with the Foxboro side of things. He told me they now have and end-to-end relationship to improve time to market. He noted as oil prices dropped customers thought “what can I afford to do?” Now, all have reset expectations. As oil prices rebound, they have not changed expectations. Some interesting applications and strategies include AVEVA auto populate control system, digital twin of facility, operations feedback our systems to AVEVA’s, then customer asset management upgrade works easier.

Martin discussed how Schneider is trying to change the question—from how to do control to how do we help customers solve problems that impact business? He pointed out that they’ve been doing digitization for years. What’s new is how to drive this new approach. 40 years ago controls was a solution-driven business; then with digitization the industry went from solutions to technology-driven. The times now require a need to flip flop. Solutions oriented but with today’s portfolios taking it to a much higher level. The speed of industrial business has increased—what was stable, e.g. cost of electricity—is stable no longer. The speed means IT world can’t keep up. Built-in real-time accounting control helps plants go beyond control to profitability. Foxboro is still dedicated to taking the use of technology to the next level.

During the conference (while I am writing from the forests in southern Ohio while the grandkids are in bed), Schneider Electric announced the release of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1.With expanded capabilities and an enhanced HMI, the updated software simplifies engineering and enhances the user experience, while expanding the ability of EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS to drive measurable operational profitability improvements, safely.

The EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS is an open, interoperable and future-proof process automation system that provides highly accurate and effective control over a manufacturing plant’s operational profitability. It is the only process control system that provides measurable operational profitability improvements and a future-proof architecture, enabling a measurable 100 percent ROI in less than one year.

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. This includes Connected Products, Edge Control, and Apps, Analytics and Services. EcoStruxure has been deployed in 480,000+ sites, with the support of 20,000+ system integrators and developers, connecting over 1.6 million assets under management through 40+ digital services.

EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 runs on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, to provide maximum flexibility while ensuring robust cybersecurity. When planning upgrades, Schneider Electric customers can mix Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 10 on the same system, allowing flexibility in scheduling and timing for upgrades. Customers can upgrade individual sections of the plant in any order, at any pace, to best accommodate plant production schedules. With Microsoft support for Windows 7 due to end in 2020, transitioning to Windows 10 allows EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS customers to benefit from the strongest operating system with the most up-to-date cybersecurity features.

Among other new and updated features, the continuously current EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 now includes:

• EcoStruxure Field Device Expert that improves efficiency, safety and profitability, while considerably reducing time for startup and restarts. It includes:

◦ Intelligent Commissioning Wizard, to reduce commissioning time up to 75 percent by automating HART device commissioning and documentation processes.

◦ Device Replacement Wizard to significantly reduce time and expertise to replace or commission HART devices, either individually or in bulk.

◦ Bundled HART DD library for increased security, faster device deployment, eradication of version mismatch and elimination of cybersecurity risks previously created by moving documents from the HART consortium web page into the system.

• New HMI Bulk Graphics Editor for increased operational efficiency and reliability by greatly reducing engineering hours and improving quality during testing. Use in major projects shows that replicating hundreds of displays with the new Bulk Graphics Editor saves months of man hours and improves quality by delivering highly predictable results. The Bulk Graphics Editor makes migrating from the classic FoxView HMI to the new Foxboro DCS Control HMI easier, requiring far fewer engineering hours, which reduces the time and cost to transition between technologies.

• Control Editors Activity Monitor for increased efficiency by improving communication, workflow and collaboration.

• Real-time asset health condition monitoring for increased reliability.

• Future-proof technology supporting the latest FTD 2.0 standard, which improves compatibility with digitized field devices from Schneider Electric and third-party vendors.

• New migration path, along with the new HMI Bulk Graphics Editor, simplifies the transition from existing FoxView HMI displays to the EcoStruxure Foxboro DCS Control Software 7.1 HMI platform for a continuously current and future-proof system. An upgrade migration path is available from previous Control Software Versions 5.x, 6.x and 7.0. After upgrading, users can tap into newer technologies that improve productivity, cybersecurity, efficiency and profitability.

84% of industrial companies face gap between IoT and ERP

84% of industrial companies face gap between IoT and ERP

There are two types of people in industry—operations technology and information technology. God forbid if they should actually talk with each other.

Everywhere I go there is talk of overcoming the OT/IT divide. Something just crossed my email stream where there was a survey about whether the departments have merged anywhere. They were shocked, shocked I say, that only about 1 in 10 companies have merged the two departments. I think the purveyors of that survey must have been on Mars for the past bunch of years.

These people just have different jobs to do. Different things they are measured on. Different ways they contribute to the common welfare of the corporation. However, the technologies they use are overlapping at an ever greater pace.

Here is a survey that once again reveals what is seemingly a disconnect between IT and OT. But I think that interfacing to ERP systems is non-trivial. I’m actually amazed and heartened by the progress we’ve made to date.

I’d take a look at this survey and consider how far we have come—and yet, how far we still need to go.

IFS has released a primary research study on how the Internet of Things (IoT) affects readiness for digital transformation in industrial companies.

According to survey of 200 IoT decision makers at industrial companies in North America, only 16 percent of respondents consume IoT data in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. That means 84 percent of industrial companies face a disconnect between data from connected devices and strategic decision making and operations, limiting the digital transformation potential of IoT.

The study posed questions about companies’ degree of IoT sophistication. The study also explores how well their enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) or field service management (FSM)software prepares them for digital transformation and to consume IoT data within enterprise software.

Respondents were divided into groups including IoT Leaders and IoT Laggards, depending on how well their enterprise software prepared them to consume IoT data—as well as Digital Transformation Leaders and Digital Transformation Laggards depending on how well their enterprise software prepared them for digital transformation.

The two Leaders groups overlapped, with 88 percent of Digital Transformation Leaders also qualifying as IoT Leaders, suggesting IoT is a technology that underpins the loose concept of digital transformation.
Digital Transformation Leaders made more complete use of IoT data than Digital Transformation Laggards; Leaders are almost three times as likely to use IoT data for corporate business intelligence or to monitor performance against service level agreements.

Digital Transformation Leaders were more likely than Digital Transformation Laggards to be able to access IoT data in applications used beyond the plant floor. They were more than four times as lilkely to have access to IoT data in enterprise asset management software, twice as likely than Digital Transformation Laggards to be able to access IoT data in high-value asset performance management software, and almost twice as likely to be able to be able to use IoT data in ERP.

The data suggests a real need for more IoT-enabled enterprise applications designed to put data from networks of connected devices into the context of the business.

In reviewing the findings, IFS Chief Technology Officer for North America, Rick Veague, commented, “Are your planning and maintenance systems robust enough to make real time decisions using IoT-sourced data? Many are facing the reality of having to answer ‘no.’ ”

“Study data suggest that the most common use case for IoT in these industrial settings is condition-based maintenance. The benefits go beyond operational improvements and maintenance cost avoidance,” said Ralph Rio, Vice President of Enterprise Software at ARC Advisory Group. “It increases uptime that provides additional capacity for increased revenue. It also avoids unplanned downtime that interrupts production schedules causing missed shipment dates and customer satisfaction issues. When married to demand and scheduling systems in ERP, IoT becomes a revenue-enhancement tool improving the top line.”