By Gregory Hale
Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industry 4.0, extreme connectivity, whatever you want to call it, the connected enterprise is coming to the manufacturing automation industry.
“We are seeing changes,” said Andy Chatha, president of ARC Advisory Group during his keynote address last week at the ARC Advisory Group 20th Annual Industry Forum in Orlando, FL. “Automotive is being turned upside down by Tesla and Google. Fracking has changed oil and gas. There are so many new companies changing the industry.”
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Indeed, in an open system environment there are more opportunities for a new company to come on and effect change.
If you listen to ExxonMobil, open systems will be coming sooner than later. That is because ExxonMobil signed on mega integrator Lockheed Martin to build a multi-vendor interoperable prototype that has a standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable architecture, with commercially available software and hardware components.
“Process plants are aging as the average age of a plant asset is 35 years old,” Chatha said. “We have a lot of issues. They are very expensive to upgrade.”
Plus, “those that are upgraded are just changing the old hardware for new hardware. They are not putting in new systems,” he said.
“There is a revolution going on out there,” he said. “New smart machines are getting better every day. For the next generation, we need open systems.”
Chatha then pointed out changes and relationship that need to occur.
One is the idea behind the often contentious relationship between IT and OT. The convergence needs to occur where process engineers can work with software developers.
On top of that, security professionals have much to learn from lessons learned from safety experts.
The fundamentals of cyber security and safety risk management are the same: Asset owners’, system integrators’ and suppliers’ answers to three simple questions:
1. Do we understand what could go wrong?
2. Do we know what systems we have in place to prevent this from happening?
3. Do we have the information to assure us they are working effectively?
Also, on top of that, Chatha said smart connected machines are emerging.
“To bring all this together it will be much easier if we have standardization,” Chatha said.
One other technological advance IIoT will embrace is cloud computing. Chatha said the cloud is coming to plants, but you don’t want to connect with today’s insecure technology.
“New connected machines have to have security built in and then you can connect them to the cloud,” he said.
The connected enterprise is a game changer, he said.