Leading executives discuss the scope and strategy for opening industrial facilities to IIoT and Industry 4.0 connectivity…without the cyber-risk.
The transformation that connectivity has brought throughout the industrial world shows no signs of slowing down. Networks that have already evolved from serial architectures to Ethernet connections are rapidly joining the Internet of Things, bringing all the benefits and challenges of Web connectivity.
Equipment is becoming more intelligent, creating a wealth of information that can be used to streamline processes and improve efficiency. There’s rapidly growing interest in what’s commonly called the Industrial Internet of Things or Industry 4.0.
“Now we’re moving into the fourth Industrial Revolution, which lends itself to very smart devices on the factory floor. We’re looking at some cyber physical systems that will be smart enough to learn what they’re doing and even repair themselves,” Siemens Industry’s John Wilhite, Jr., says in a Webinar presented by Intel and Siemens.
The huge volume of data generated and used for manufacturing operations is altering a range of different fields. Suppliers, manufacturers and users are all striving to get the most out of the information that’s available to them.
“One of the trends that are driving big data is how supply chain is evolving. This is reverberating throughout the whole manufacturing chain,” says Kevin Davenport of Intel.
The vast majority of planners will have to address legacy technologies when they define their strategies for leveraging the power of the Internet. In existing facilities, one key challenge is to add new connections and capabilities while preserving the existing investment in infrastructure.
“There are a lot of brownfield implementations that we have to maintain and bring up to the level of green field operations,” Davenport says. “There are many different devices that we have to connect with middleware, field bus technologies, and many different legacy serial bus protocols.”
Often, this is not a simple task. In many plants, strategists must account for a number of legacy protocols. The more there are, the more complex the translation process becomes.
“We have device level networks like AS-i and CAN bus, field bus networks like DeviceNet and PROFIBUS and we have Ethernet buses like EthernetIP or PROFINET. Most plants have a combination of all of those, or at least some of those,” Wilhite says.
The benefits of connectivity also open industrial facilities to the dark side of the Web. Planners must protect facilities from hackers and others who want to disrupt processes or hold plants hostage until ransom is paid. Experts agree that multiple levels of protection are needed to prevent problems.
“A defense in depth approach offers comprehensive protection,” Wilhite says. “It is based on the recommendations of IEC 62443 and includes plant security, network security and system integrity. Within each of these defensive layers Siemens provides products and services based on standards to achieve the desired security level”.
Through the Siemens / Intel partnership, an even broader array of security solutions is now available. Intel executive Kevin Davenport also noted that protection must extend from low level components and software all the way out to the cloud connections.
“Connecting these siloed business systems throughout the stacks is critical in building out our data networks. We’re leveraging our assets with Wind River to provide a very robust and scalable architecture. We’re extending the McAfee and Wind River technologies to the device level controls, creating a very secure architecture with strong controls all the way from the cloud to the end devices at the edge,” he says.
Security plans can’t stop at the cloud, they must also extend into the future. Threats will evolve as new vulnerabilities are discovered. That means that protective schemes must also advance. The ability to update firmware is a critical feature in industrial equipment.
“As new features are introduced or as security breaches and vulnerabilities are discovered and patched, it is important that the device be updated rather than replaced,” Wilhite says. “Therefore devices have to support digitally signed and verified firmware updates. Signed firmware images validate that the firmware is genuine and has not been modified since it left the vendor.”
Davenport and Wilhite agreed that most companies will benefit from hiring a company that specializes in security. These experts can help create strategies that are efficient and effective while also helping development teams avoid some of the pitfalls that can plague all but the most knowledgeable in-house groups.
The impact of commercial technologies goes beyond connectivity. Many of the companies joining the IIoT are making personal computers the basis of their systems. Ruggedized PCs can be used for dedicated tasks, or they can utilize the multitasking capabilities of these systems, which typically work well with open architectures.
Additionally, the powerful CPUs developed for these commercial systems make it easy for industrial developers to address the varying speed and response times required by industrial data structures.
“When we’re mapping out our data architectures, we have to account for the different timing requirements of data,” Davenport says. “Open standards are vital to create a platform that’s not only open but scalable. Organizations like OpenFog and the Industrial Internet Consortium can be valuable resources.”
Companies that do a good job analyzing their needs before they start implementing technologies and installing equipment will typically have more success when they put all the pieces together. In today’s competitive global industrial environment, speed and connectivity are not an option, they’re a necessity.
“Technology must connect people, machines and data. Companies need very fast machines to analyze data,” Davenport says. “When looking at deploying a digital factory in your plant, all systems need to communicate together so you can get the best data to make the best decision.”
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