No organisation is completely immune from cyberattacks
Published on : Tuesday 07-12-2021
Jasbir Singh, Director, ECPR Technologies.
Is the process industry slower in adopting digital transformation compared to discrete manufacturing?
Competition is increasing, so the digital transformation becomes important and gives powerful leverage to companies to stay relevant. In the process industry the companies are adopting advanced digital technologies at a slower pace, mainly because of cultural barriers with which they were stuck in time for the past many years. It is also noted that the acceptance of advancement in digitalisation such as the internet, personal computing, mobile computing, learning benefits from social media and the recent development by Artificial Intelligence in technological innovations that cause the slow adapters to fail to implement correctly. There are a number of factors behind this slowness where some entrepreneurs are not ready to act and change their business processes as per market demand and few others continue with the same process with an understanding that this fluctuation/surge in demand is temporary phenomena to react.
With Big Data and analytics in the IIoT era, is the traditional Data Historian becoming history? Is this a smooth transition?
A large number of Big Data generation by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is obviously due to the massive use of sensors and data from other IoT devices. The collection of big data and its processing poses a challenge due to limited computational capability, networking and storage of intermittent results at the IoT device end. Data analytics is required to provide operational and customer level alertness to implement in processes/systems. Big data analytic technologies, specific algorithms and techniques facilitate the precise development and application of intelligent IIoT systems. The requirement here is for classifying and categorising important parameters (data sources, right analytics, tools & analytics techniques, requirement-based use of analytics types and applications) and the computation to derive the right results.
How effective is a digital twin in process automation vis-à-vis discrete manufacturing? Is the process industry making use of digital twin technology?
Digital twin provides the leverage to companies to test and validate results from a product before it even exists or is implemented. Creating a replica of the possible production process, a digital twin empowers engineers to determine any possible process failures before the item is even put into production. Engineers can create the imaginary faults to disrupt the system in a digital twin to incorporate the expected/unexpected failure scenarios and examine the system’s output, and define the corresponding mitigation strategies to safeguard. This capability improves risk assessment and enhances the production line’s reliability. Since a digital twin system’s IoT sensors generate big data in real-time, it enables the industry to more accurately plan the schedule of predictive maintenance. The right schedule-based maintenance improves production line efficiency and lowering maintenance/operational costs. It is difficult or even impossible to see a real-time view of a large physical establishment/system in advance before implementation. A digital twin can be created and accessed by engineers/operators from anywhere, enabling them to monitor and see its control. The virtual representation of a physical system creates the ability to integrate the cost of materials and labour. The advanced analytics by using large amount of real-time data enables the businesses to make better and faster decisions.
Is the number and complexity of standards presenting challenges for both end users and suppliers?
Skilled workforce is required for the implementation of smart production systems in industries having big data processing, integration of advanced robotics technology, use of artificial intelligence and network interconnectivity for improving manufacturing performance and optimising the energy. The challenge for the enterprise management is not only the selection of which business processes to automate, but the selection of right ones to drive RoI and the value in automation. Good RoI has to be realised by making business processes more reliable, consistent quality, quicker, and freeing the implementer/engineer that once performed becomes repetitive, and allowing them to focus on other more critical, higher-value deliverables to achieve key business objectives. The challenge for business leaders is not only to optimise their processes and automating them. It is also important for finding out a way where staff can run it autonomously post commissioning. The solution provider allows organisations to easily identify, model, design and optimise the business processes while ensuring the regulatory compliance.
What is the present status of Open Process Automation and the move toward standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable process automation architectures?
Development and induction of massive IoT devices, robotics applications, cyber-physical systems, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning lead to the requirement of a unified operating system/software platform and common standard. The present need is for the many proprietary process automation standards to translate into a single common standard, which is a much more open, interoperable, secure and modular approach. This is the demand by system end users, system integrators and suppliers. It means a Standards-based, secure, interoperable, open automation architecture to replace closed proprietary devices of the past. Open Process Automation™ Forum (OPAF) having good number of members from firms and organisations consisting of end users, system integrators, suppliers and support groups has worked persistently since November 2016 to develop a common process automation standard with a guideline that The Open Group will manage the standard, publish guidelines and the companies shall develop products with established OPA software.
There have been serious cyberattacks on process industries in recent months. How strong are the safeguards?
No organisation is completely immune from cyberattacks. Cybersecurity to be considered by business leaders as a primary organisational risk. Cybersecurity is by virtue a vital operational risk and must be a main focus area for every organisation’s enterprise risk management. All companies are growing reliant on large data and network bus connectivity, and regularly increasing number of cyberattacks. Cybersecurity will continue to gain business attention. Leaders are prompted to react to recent cyber incidents, and what they are doing to address these and come up with anticipated regulatory requirements. Cybersecurity is becoming a top priority for every company.
Jasbir Singh is an Automation Expert having long experience in Factory Automation, Line Automation, Implementation Strategist, Business Coach, Regular writer on automation, Artificial Intelligence, Robots/Cobots, Digital Technology, Network Communication, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Wireless Communication, Block Chain and use of advance digital technologies. He has established a long association with Business Houses/large production houses to improve factory automation in their production lines as well as productivity improvement in factories in India and overseas; and in advising and designing the units to transform into digital platforms by use of Artificial Intelligence.