Awards For Best Application of HMI/SCADA

Awards For Best Application of HMI/SCADA

It’s not the technology; it’s what you do with it. Here are companies (and their engineers) who have done some cool projects with HMI/SCADA software. Inductive Automation has selected the recipients of its Ignition Firebrand Awards for 2018. The announcements were made at the Ignition Community Conference (ICC) in September.

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 Ignition Firebrand Awards are presented every year at ICC. The award-winning projects are selected from the ICC Discover Gallery, which features the best 15 Ignition projects submitted by integrators and industrial organizations.

“Once again, we had a lot of variety with the Firebrand Award winners this year,” said Don Pearson, chief strategy officer for Inductive Automation. “Many industries were represented — automotive, oil & gas, food & beverage, water/wastewater, and more. It was great to see quality projects in all kinds of settings.”

“It’s inspiring to see the creative applications people are building on top of the Ignition platform,” said Travis Cox, co-director of sales engineering for Inductive Automation. “Every year, people create some really interesting projects, and this year was no exception.”

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

  • Brown Engineers (Little Rock, Ark.) took a unique approach to improving the filter backwash process for a water treatment plant at the City of Hot Springs. Brown used the Ignition SCADA platform to dramatically improve the automatic backwash, conserve water, improve water quality, and initiate collection of filter data needed to extend regulatory run-time limits. See the video here.
  • ECS Solutions (Evansville, Ind.) and Blentech Corporation (Santa Rosa, Calif.) partnered on a project that brought a unified platform to JTM Food Group’s new state-of-the-art plant in Harrison, Ohio. The result was a SCADA system that included the full spectrum of process automation. The Ignition application includes material management, formulation control, batch processing, and process control. See the video here.
  • Open Automation SRL (Santa Fe, Argentina) improved operations for a Cargill-owned animal nutrition plant. The project used Ignition to increase efficiency, productivity, and traceability without increasing labor. Greater access to data, less paper, and improved product quality were just a few of the benefits. See the video here.
  • Roeslein & Associates (St. Louis, Mo.) helped global automotive supplier Dana Incorporated increase productivity by 30 percent at some of its sites. The project provided real-time statistical analysis and visualization of machine data to enable better and faster decision-making. The flexible solution can be leveraged by Dana in numerous additional plants. See the video here.
  • Tamaki Control (Auckland, New Zealand) created a comprehensive clean-in-place scheduling system for the largest yogurt-manufacturing facility in the world: the Chobani plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. The solution increased visualization and made it much easier for operators to share information. It can also be leveraged for other uses at Chobani plants. See the video here.
  • Weisz Bolivia SRL (Buenos Aires, Argentina) solved weather-related data-communication problems for the largest offshore oil operation in Argentina. Results included better access to data, easier reporting to a government agency, and streamlined processes. See the video here.

Information on all 15 Discover Gallery projects can be found here.

Distributed Servo System at Pack Expo 2018

Distributed Servo System at Pack Expo 2018

Beckhoff Automation had a sizable booth at Pack Expo this week. Much to my surprise, when I asked about whether there was something new (I don’t expect new product introductions in automation at Pack Expo) the answer was yes. Well, I had a glimpse at Hannover in April.

The AMP8000 servo system has an innovative design where the integrated drive is placed on the end of the servo motor rather than the usual side. This design allows for maximum heat dissipation from the motor. They were able to package the drive and motor that only added 75 mm to the length of the motor.

By combining a servo drive and servomotor into one device, the AMP8000 system reduces overall packaging machine footprint and space requirements inside control cabinets and enclosures. A single coupling module can operate up to five drives using the EtherCAT P One Cable Automation solution that supplies industrial-grade power and EtherCAT industrial Ethernet communication.

Requiring Requiring no alterations to the existing machines, the AMP8000 boasts power ratings from 0.61 to 1.23 kW and standstill torque ratings from 2.00 to 4.8 Nm at an F4 flange size or power ratings from 1.02 to 1.78 kW and standstill torque ratings from 4.10 to 9.7 Nm with an F5 flange. The servo drive system also represents the Beckhoff commitment to promoting safety technology in all areas via integrated STO and SS1 safety functions.

TwinCAT software updates have added a number of important tools for packaging machine builders and end users, including expanded data processing through TwinCAT Analytics and HTML5-enabled TwinCAT HMI for industrial displays and mobile devices. In addition, TwinCAT Motion Designer supplies additional tools to commission entire motor, drive and mechanical systems in software, whether integrated into the TwinCAT 3 platform or used as a stand-alone motion system engineering tool.

Industrial Control System Secure By Design

Industrial Control System Secure By Design

Inductive Automation included a number of partner companies in its Ignition Community Conference last week in Folsom, CA. Among these companies was Bedrock Automation. I’ve written about Bedrock before a few times. This trip I was looking at its display when its CEO in disguise appeared.

Why it matters: Cyber security is at the top of everyone’s mind these days. Bedrock Automation has designed a system to be secure from all parts of the supply chain.

Albert Rooyakkers, founder/CEO/CTO, was wearing a hat and sunglasses and I walked right past him. However, he came over and gave me his usual high energy explanation of the entire Bedrock system.

Bedrock Automation builds an industrial control system (PLC) that was designed from the beginning with security in mind. Not just cyber security, but also security from tampering, lightning, high-energy electromagnetic interference, and more.

Intrinsic Security begins with Strong Cryptography, then adds Secure Components, Component Anti Tamper, Secure Firmware, Secure Communications, and Module Anti Tamper.

The metal construction showcases the secure construction, just as does the design of the I/O modules and communication with the controller (no insecure backplane).

Public Key Infrastructure

Rooyakkers always gives me the deep dive into Public Key Infrastructure which leads to Hardware Root of Trust—the essential element of security in the product.

Use of asymmetric cryptography for authentication and key exchange is the basis of secure e-commerce. In the internet context, there is a critical additional piece, a root of trust at the center of an exchange. This is called Certificate Authority. Key pairs, certificates, a root of trust and interoperable algorithms together form a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) which includes the infrastructure and policies to manage and maintain the trust. Some of the building blocks include:

• Signatures
• Transport Layer Security
• X.509 Certificates
• Certificate Chain of Trust
• Root Certificate Authority

Until now PKI has not been implemented in industrial control systems. Bedrock Automation embeds the Hardware Root of Trust in the control system. It is designed from the ground up with security in mind.
Bedrock Automation has always gone to market with systems integrators—a strategy that fits with Inductive Automation. In many remote control and SCADA systems, the two form a perfect pair.

Control and Networking Make Automation News

Control and Networking Make Automation News

Here is some news regarding control and networking. Bedrock Automation is a recent entrant into the control and automation space, while Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) holds great potential to be a disruptive force.

Control

I seldom write about automation company “wins”, but this one shows some direction for a new company. Bedrock Automation is a young automation company that has built a new control platform from the ground up for not only the latest in control but also for security.

My curiosity has focused on where it would find a market. I don’t see it displacing Rockwell Automation and Siemens any time soon, but the platform is robust and adaptable. This looks like a perfect application.

Pinnacle Midstream, a Houston-based supplier of storage and processing services for the oil and gas industry, has selected the Bedrock control system as the automation platform for its crude oil receipt and delivery points. The Bedrock system will coordinate flow of product from partners, through the Pinnacle processing facilities and onto refiners and shippers. Pinnacle chose Bedrock system for its scalability, ease of engineering, ruggedness, cost efficiencies and intrinsic cyber security.

“We are expanding to the meet the growing need for midstream services and need a secure way to centralize control of flow amongst our facilities. The Bedrock system provides an economical solution in a small, easy-to-implement system that can coordinate edge control today, while also scaling easily and economically to the full DCS functionality we expect to need in the future. We also liked the rugged Bedrock housing, which will resist the dust that gets into everything around here,” said Mike Hillerman, VP of Engineering and Operations for Pinnacle Midstream.

Networking

Avnu Alliance, the industry consortium driving open standards-based deterministic networking through certification, is co-hosting the 2017 Time Sensitive Networks and Applications (TSN/A) Conference with WEKA FACHMEDIEN on September 20-21 at the Mövenpick Hotel Stuttgart Airport in Germany.

The TSN/A Conference is a combination of the “TSNA Conference” and the “Industrial Ethernet TSN Kongress” and offers attendees insights into Time-Sensitive Networks and usage in applications for Automotive, Industrial, Professional Audio/Video and more. The conference spans two days of technical sessions, panel discussions, vendor demonstrations, and participant networking.

“We are excited to bring together experts and thought leaders from around the world to the TSN/A Conference in Germany this year” said Kevin Stanton, Avnu Alliance Chairman, who will also deliver a conference presentation on Time Synchronization on Wired and Wireless Infrastructure. “It’s been a pleasure to join forces with WEKA FACHMEDIEN as the speakers present both the technology of TSN and its implications across our industries.”

On Wednesday, September 20, the first day of the conference, programming will feature two keynotes from Avnu Alliance members. Wolfgang Schenk of Hirschmann Automation and Control will present on “Time-Sensitive Networking: Enabling Technology for the Automation Model of the Future,” analyzing the transformation of the automation pyramid towards an automation pillar and discussing why TSN is the enabling technology for this transformation. Avnu Alliance Member BMW representative Dr. Kirsten Matheus will give a keynote on the “Use of AVB and TSN in the Automotive Industry.” Specifically, the presentation will describe the results of two workshops that Avnu Alliance held to gauge the need in the automotive industry for different Audio Video Bridging (AVB)/TSN functions.

I am happy to see momentum building for the technology. Can’t wait to see applications.

Software Platform for Open Control Systems Emphasizing IoT

Software Platform for Open Control Systems Emphasizing IoT

The latest attempt at building an open control platform is driven by ExxonMobil and given some support by the ARC Advisory Group by offering a venue for meetings. I wrote about the meeting during the ARC Forum in Orlando.  What I find most interesting is linking this to the Internet of Things.

It will be interesting to see where this leads. I’ve seen attempts in the past to try to get suppliers to ditch their computing or control platforms to go with a generic open system where end users could drive pricing down to commodity levels. Of course, such a system would require lots of engineering—a boon to systems integrators.

Although the dream of complete plug-and-play requiring no integration is a problem waiting a solution. We’ve seen this scenario play out in the computer business. The result was locked down hardware with a measure of interoperability of systems. I think that this is where standards are most valuable.

WindRiver has cast its lot with the ExxonMobil-led Open Process Control initiative and has announced a product in support of the effort. It has announced availability of a software virtualization platform enabling critical infrastructure companies to cost-effectively evolve aging legacy control systems not previously designed to support the connected nature of IoT. Wind River Titanium Control empowers the next generation of on-premise analytics to optimize industrial processes.

“ARC believes the influx of new IIoT technologies now entering the automation market has the potential to be a major disruption to existing business models that have been relatively stable for decades,” said Harry Forbes, research director at ARC Advisory Group, a leading technology research firm for industry and infrastructure. “An excellent example is Titanium Control, which combines Wind River’s long experience in real-time operating systems with on-premise cloud computing technology. This combination enables the virtualization of real-time automation applications that until recently could only be implemented in embedded systems hardware. The implications of this capability for the manufacturing automation market are very far-reaching, and automation suppliers are noticing.”

Because traditional industrial control systems were not designed to support IoT, most are rigid, single purpose, and have a high cost to deploy, integrate, and maintain. Additionally, the obsolescence cycle is driving system updates that require new systems to keep pace with innovation while maintaining or lowering capital costs.

Titanium Control is a commercially deployable on-premise cloud infrastructure that virtualizes traditional physical subsystems using a platform based on open standards. It delivers the high performance, high availability, flexibility, and low latency needed to reduce capital and operating expenses, as well as minimize unscheduled downtime for industrial applications and control services at any scale. Unlike enterprise IT virtualization platforms, it provides high reliability for applications and services deployed at the network edge, for example in fog deployments.

Key features of Titanium Control include:

  • De facto standard open source software for on-premise cloud and virtualization, including Linux, real-time Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and OpenStack
  • High performance and high availability with accelerated vSwitch and inter-VM communication, plus virtual infrastructure management
  • Security features including isolation, secure boot and Trusted Platform Module enabled through Enhanced Platform Awareness
  • Scalability from two to over 100 compute nodes
  • Hitless software updates and patching with no interruption to services or applications

“With the emergence of Industrial IoT, companies are looking to deploy next-generation open and secure control systems; Titanium Control addresses this need, and is in active trials with customers in industries ranging from manufacturing to energy to healthcare,” said Jim Douglas, president of Wind River. “Our software has been providing these companies with powerful ways to increase efficiency and bolster safety, security, and reliability for the last 35 years. With the addition of Titanium Control to our product portfolio, Wind River is driving a new industrial era through virtualization, real-time performance and edge-to-cloud connectivity.”

Titanium Control is part of the Wind River Titanium Cloud portfolio of virtualization products for the deployment of critical services from operations to data center environments that require real-time performance and continuous service availability. It is optimized for Intel Xeon processors, and is pre-validated on hardware from the leading providers of Intel-based servers.

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