Reduce data centre asset liabilities.

07/08/2016
How you implement RFID monitoring is critical to the performance of the system.

Harting_Data_Centre_AppWith regular headlines about the latest cybercrime attack stealing important or commercially sensitive data, the physical security of IT equipment is often overlooked. One area in particular is the almost casual theft of small pieces of equipment from the racks. For example, the latest helium filled 10TB hard drive represent a €700  (£600stg) investment and with up to 22 drives used in a 4U storage array, loss through theft can be substantial.

The constant monitoring of what equipment is located inside the data centre has additional benefits not only in terms of security but also in managing cooling air-flow requirements and power consumption, which support growing need to demonstrate compliance with Green IT initiatives.

In response, data centres have been increasingly looking for cost efficient solutions for key asset management. Data Centre Infrastructure Management (DCIM)* is an emerging holistic management approach that combines traditional data centre equipment and facilities with monitoring software for centralized control. DCIM includes physical and asset level components and by combining both information technology and facilities management it raises the effectiveness of a data centre.

RFID has been seen by many as a key element to providing real-time monitoring of component location within the data centre. By installing passive RFID tags on every removable component of the rack data centre systems integrators and site operations managers can easily use them not only to record locations but more information about the device than they could before with standard asset tags.

But how you implement RFID monitoring is critical to the performance of the system.

Portable hand-held RFID reader systems have a very small UHF read range and only offer a slightly better performance than relying on paper records or barcodes because it requires employees to walk down aisles and identify the piece of equipment and its location. This is a very time-consuming task and as such is not undertaken very often. It also relies on the competence and integrity of the operator carrying out the check.

Fig1_HartingRFID

Fig 1

Up until now it has been unrealistic from a physical location point of view to directly integrate even the most compact passive RFID UHF patch antennas into existing data centre server rack arrays.

Typically, 4 antennas would have to be separately mounted either side of the front of each server rack, in both the upper and lower areas and carefully positioned to ensure there are no gaps in the RF field coverage. Correspondingly, with such an arrangement it would also be necessary to utilise multiple readers, resulting in excessive installed cost

Harting now have the ideal solution to remove this higher cost multiple patch antenna and reader arrangement with its innovative Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® coaxial cable waveguide antenna.

They can be directly integrated, with insulating spacers, onto the rear side of the front access door of each server rack. Only one of these Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antennas needs to be fitted for a fully installed 45U sever rack. By fitting in an extended S-shape design (See Fig. 1) you can achieve the best possible RF field coverage of the complete rack. In conjunction with a single reader which has the required power to match the correct read distances, it can register passive RFID tags that provide specific item identification within a rack and additional sensor functionalities e.g. detecting empty or occupied slots, thus minimizing the complete data centre system installation cost.

The Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® is a traveling wave RFID antenna consisting of a coax cable that—when plugged into the antenna port of a Harting UHF EPC Class1 Gen 2 reader—conveys the reader’s RF signal along the cable’s copper core and to the antenna’s far end, where a coupling element draws the RF wave out and onto the cable’s exterior. When that signal reaches the reader, a metal protecting shield prevents the interrogator from receiving its own signal and interfering with its performance. N.B. The Ha-VIS LOCFIELD ® antenna should not be mounted directly onto a metal surface but raised-off slightly with insulating spacers.

Fig2_HartingRFID

Fig 2 – Harting HA-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antenna

By its functional nature the Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antenna facilitates real-time monitoring of movements in and out to the rack enclosure and is available in different lengths up to 10 metres and is 5 millimeters in diameter. If used with a high-powered reader, such as Harting’s Ha-VIS RF-R500 long range reader transmitting a signal of 4 watts (36dBm), it can read passive EPC Class 1 slot Gen 2 transponders located up to 2.5 metres away radially over its entire length.

Put simply Harting’s Ha-VIS RFID LOCFIELD® antennas allow you to identify what is in a data centre rack, its population status and where a specific item is located.

* DCIM was originally defined in the US and describes a methodology of IT and facilities management.
@Harting #PAuto

Brexit woes continue.

02/08/2016
This is a short piece from Nick Denbow, in the July Issue of Industrial Automation Insider*  on the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. See our earlier piece “Nobody knows!” (30/6/2016)

The first thing that Great Britain’s new government, under Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, did was to quash talk of a new referendum that might end Brexit before it actually gets started. The government says it plans to go ahead with the exit of Great Britain from the European Union, despite angry words from Scotland and Northern Ireland, both of which client states voted emphatically to stay in the EU.

zollschildThis impacts manufacturing and automation system companies in quite a few different ways. The membership of Great Britain and Ireland in the EU made it possible to conduct business across country barriers with so much ease that the borders were essentially invisible. Personnel could be sent wherever needed, not where they were citizens. Inventory could be stored anywhere in the EU for shipment anywhere in the EU and things like FAT tests and FEED projects could be done anywhere without regard for borders.

“The connection of just about anything via the Internet is expected to grow rapidly through 2016 and well into the future, significantly boosting opportunities for tech specialists, particularly cybersecurity professionals. Complicating this is the recent investment by the EU of US $500 million to fund research into cybersecurity, and its call for industry to invest at least three times that amount to protect the EU economy from cyberattacks. Under the plan, the European Commission (EC), the EU’s executive body, has launched a public-private partnership under the European Cyber Security Organization, which calls for EU member states and cybersecurity bodies, including market players, research centers, and academia, to strengthen their cooperation and pool their knowledge to increase Europe’s cyber resilience. It’s not clear at this point where, or if, the UK would fit into this program.” –Ron Schnieiderman on IEEE Careers site.

This will no longer be true, as Brexit takes hold, and companies are now having to do significant amounts of strategic planning based on this very large Great-Britain-sized hole in the EU. Further, other countries are making noises like they might want to break up the EU entirely, which is a different bucket of fish entirely. European automation companies have prospered because of the borderless and customs-less conditions under which they have worked in the EU.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, especially with Scotland making independence noises again, less than two years after a failed independence plebiscite.

• The Insider’s Health Watch column also reports on some Brexit related influences!
• Coincidentally the ever-interesting BMON daily had a popular piece on the possible effects of the Brexit decision on the internet – specifically the use of cookies –  The Future for EU and UK Laws on Cookies after ‘Brexit’ (3/7/2016)

*The Automation INSIDER is an independent monthly e-mail newsletter and editorial report on the continuing evolution, development and convergence of industrial automation, instrumentation and process control technologies worldwide for automation and process control system users, designers, installers and suppliers. It is compiled by Walt Boyes.


Continuous compliance with PLM.

27/07/2016
Adam Bannaghan, technical director of Design Rule, discusses the growing role of PLM in managing quality and compliance.

The advantages of product lifecycle management (PLM) software are widely understood; improved product quality, lower development costs, valuable design data and a significant reduction in waste. However, one benefit that does not get as much attention is PLM’s support of regulatory compliance.

Compliance-PLMNobody would dispute the necessity of regulatory compliance, but in the product development realm it certainly isn’t the most interesting topic. Regardless of its lack of glamour, failure to comply with industry regulations can render the more exciting advantages of PLM redundant.

From a product designer’s perspective, compliance through PLM delivers notable strategic advantages. Achieving compliance in the initial design stage can save time and reduce engineering changes in the long run. What is more, this design-for-compliance approach sets the bar for quality product development, creating a unified standard to which the entire workforce can adhere. What is more, the support of a PLM platform significantly simplifies the compliance process, especially for businesses operating in sectors with fast-changing or complicated regulations.

For example, AS/EN 9100, is a series of quality management guidelines for the aerospace sector, which are globally recognised, but set to change later this year. December 2016 is the target date for companies to achieve these new standards – a fast transition for those managing compliance without the help of dedicated software.

Similarly, the defence industry has its own standards to follow. ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and EAR (Export Administration Regulations) are notoriously strict exporting standards, delivering both civil and criminal penalties to companies that fail to comply.

“Fines for ITAR violations in recent years have ranged from several hundred thousand to $100 million,” explained Kay Georgi, an import/export compliance attorney and partner at law firm Arent Fox LLP in Washington. “Wilful violations can be penalised by criminal fines, debarment, both of the export and government contracting varieties, and jail time for individuals.”

PLM across sectors
The strict nature of all these regulations is not limited to aerospace and defence however. Electrical, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and consumer goods are also subject to different, but equally stern, compliance rules.

Despite varying requirements across industries, there are a number of PLM options that support compliance on an industry-specific basis. Dassault Systèmes ENOVIA platform, for example, allows businesses to input compliance definition directly into the program. This ensures that, depending on the industry, the product is able to meet the necessary standards. As an intelligent PLM platform, ENOVIA delivers full traceability of the product development process, from conception right through to manufacturing.

For those in charge of managing compliance, access to this data is incredibly valuable, for both auditing and providing evidence to regulatory panels. By acquiring industry-specific modules, businesses can rest assured that their compliance is being managed appropriately for their sector – avoiding nasty surprises or unsuccessful compliance.

For some industry sectors, failure to comply can cause momentous damage, beyond the obvious financial difficulties and time-to-market delays you might expect. For sensitive markets, like pharmaceutical or food and beverage, regulatory failure can wreak havoc on a brand’s reputation. What’s more, if the uncompliant product is subject to a recall, or the company is issued with a newsworthy penalty charge, the reputational damage can be irreparable.

PLM software is widely regarded as an effective tool to simplify product design. However, by providing a single source of truth for the entire development process, the potential of PLM surpasses this basic function. Using PLM for compliance equips manufacturers with complete data traceability, from the initial stages of design, right through to product launch. What’s more, industry-specific applications are dramatically simplifying the entire compliance process by guaranteeing businesses can meet particular regulations from the very outset.

Meeting regulatory standards is an undisputed obligation for product designers. However, as the strategic and product quality benefits of design-for-compliance become more apparent, it is likely that complying through PLM will become standard practice in the near future.

#PLM @designruleltd #PAuto #Pharma #Food @StoneJunctionPR

Creating 1000 times more power with submersible load measuring pins.

22/07/2016
“Our DBEP load measuring pins and DSCC pancake load cells were ideal to use in this marine application, as both can be readily customised, including dimensions and IP ratings, to make them fully submersible” says Ollie Morcom, Sales Director of Applied Measurements Ltd.

Ocean and tidal currents are a sustainable and reliable energy system. Minesto’s award winning product Deep Green converts tidal and ocean currents into electricity with minimal visual and environmental impact. Minesto’s Deep Green power plant is the only marine power plant that operates cost efficiently in areas with low velocity currents.

DBEP

Pre-assembly of DBEP pin on Deep Green

DBEP Load Pin
• Fully Customisable
• IP68 to Depths of 6500 Metres Available!
• Stainless Steel – Ideal for Marine Applications
Minesto needed to measure the strut force in Deep Green’s kite assembly. The measuring device needed to withstand permanent underwater submersion. “Our load measuring pin’s stainless steel construction and ability to be customised to IP68 submersion rating made this the ideal choice for use in Deep Green’s control system”, explains Ollie Morcom, Applied Measurements’ Sales Director. Their 17-4 PH stainless steel construction makes them perfect for marine and seawater applications. The DBEP load measuring pin was modified to have an IP68 protection rating to a depth of 30 metres and was fitted with a polyurethane (PUR) submersible cable and cable gland, ensuring the entire measuring system was suitable for this underwater marine application.

Deep-Green-cu-219x300The load measuring pin needed to fit within Deep Green’s control measuring system. The load measuring pin’s dimensions can be customised to suit a specific design. As Deep Green needed to retain its small and lightweight construction, the DBEP load measuring pin was manufactured to their exact dimensions, ensuring that it fitted within the control assembly without adding unnecessary additional weight to the structure, thus maintaining the efficiency of the Deep Green kite.

What is Deep Green?
Deep Green is an underwater kite assembly with a wing and a turbine, attached by a tether to a fixed point on the ocean bed. As the water flows over the kite’s wing, the lift force from the water current pushes the kite forward. The rudder steers the kite in a figure of 8 trajectory enabling Deep Green to reach a velocity 10 times faster than the water current, generating 1000 times more power. As the water flows through the turbine, electricity is produced in the gearless generator. The electricity is transmitted through the cable in the tether and along subsea cables on the seabed to the shore. Customised versions of our DBEP load measuring pins and DSCC pancake load cells are used within the control system of the kite.

DSCC_Pancake_Cell

DSCC Pancake Cell

DSCC Pancake Load Cell
• Fully Customisable
• Low Physical Height
•Optional: IP67, IP68 and Fatigue Rated Versions Available
• High Accuracy: <±0.05%/RC
Minesto also needed to monitor the varying tension load of the tether created by the wing. Using our high accuracy DSCC pancake load cells we were again able to make a custom design to fit into their existing assembly. Our pancake load cells are also manufactured from stainless steel and can be modified with alternative threads, custom dimensions, mounting holes, higher capacities and higher protection ratings. The DSCC pancake load cell used in Minesto’s marine power plant was IP68 rated for permanent submersion in seawater to 50 metres depth. The pancake load cells design delivers excellent resistance to bending, side and torsional forces and its low profile makes it ideal where a low physical height is required.

ICA2H Miniature Load Cell Amplifier
Within the pancake load cell we fitted a high performance ICA2H miniature load cell amplifier. The ICA2H miniature amplifier is only Ø19.5mm and 7.6mm high and is designed to fit inside a broad range of strain gauge load cells where a larger amplifier cannot. It has a low current consumption and delivers a 0.1 to 5Vdc high stability output. Using an integrated miniature amplifier kept Deep Green’s control assembly small and lightweight. The ICA2H miniature amplifier was chosen because of its high stability and fast response which is essential for the safe and efficient operation of Deep Green.

“We really enjoyed working with Minesto on this fantastic marine project.”

@AppMeas #PAuto #Power

Compliance – more than just red tape.

03/07/2016

A growing customer demand for regulatory compliance combined with increased competition amongst manufacturers has made SCADA software a minimum requirement for the pharmaceutical industry. Here, Lee Sullivan, Regional Manager at COPA-DATA UK discusses why today, more than ever before, regulatory compliance is crucial for the pharmaceutical industry.

copabatchstdFDA statistics are forcing the industry to identify and implement improvements to its manufacturing processes. In its latest reports (published in Automation World), the FDA identified a significant increase in the number of drug shortages reported globally. With 65% of these drug shortage instances directly caused by issues in product quality, it’s clear that if more pharma manufacturers aimed to meet the criteria outlined in FDA and other industry standards, drug shortages and quality issues would certainly become less frequent.

The compulsion to become compliant obviously differs from company to company and standard to standard but one thing is certain: development starts with batch software. The range and capabilities of batch software vary immensely, but there are three factors to consider before making a choice: flexibility, connectivity and ergonomics.

Flexibility
To assist the complex processes of pharmaceutical manufacturing, batch software needs to be flexible. The software should manage traceability of raw materials through to the finished product and communicate fluently with other equipment in the facility. To ensure it provides a consistent procedure and terminology for batch production, the software should also be in line with the ISA-88 standard.

To meet increasing demand for personalised medication, manufacturers are seeking out batch software that is capable of creating flexible recipes, which are consistently repeatable. Traditional batch control creates one sequence of each process-specific recipe. While this model may be ideal for high volume manufacturing where the recipe does not change, today’s pharmaceutical production requires more flexibility.

To remain competitive, manufacturers need to provide compliance in a quick and cost-effective manner. Modern batch control software ensures flexibility by separating the equipment and recipe control. This allows the operator to make changes in batch recipes without any modifications to the equipment or additional engineering, thus saving the manufacturer time and money.

Connectivity
To avoid complications, manufacturers should choose independent software that supports a wide range of communication protocols. COPA-DATA’s zenon, for example, offers more than 300 high-performance interfaces that function in accordance with the ‘plug-and-play principle’. This makes it easy to implement and the user can start to collect, process and monitor production data straight away.

The communication model of the batch software extends upwards to fully integrate into manufacturing execution systems (MES) and business enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. This links the raw material from goods-in through to the finished product at the customer’s site. The strong communication platform includes all layers of a production environment and extends to these systems.

Having no association with specific hardware providers ensures that regardless of the make and age of equipment, the batch software will be fully compatible and integrate seamlessly. Using this high level of connectivity minimises disruptions and quality problems, while also allowing pharmaceutical companies to collect data from the entire factory to archive digital records and ensure compliance across the processing line – allowing manufacturers to establish a fully connected smart factory.

Ergonomics
Lastly, understanding and using batch software should be stress free. As the pharmaceutical industry becomes more complex and more manufacturers begin exploring the realms of smart manufacturing, factory operators should be able to control and change batch production without complications.

By using software fitted with clear parameters and access levels, operators gain the ability to create and validate recipes, monitor the execution of production and review the performance of industrial machinery – without accidently altering or changing existing recipes and data. Reducing the amount of software engineering makes the operator’s life easier and minimises potential problems that could arise.

The benefits of complying with various industry regulations and standards do not stop with an enhanced Quality Management System (QMS). More customers will buy from you because you appear more reliable and your supply chain will see improved production indicators, such as increased OEE, reduced wastage, reduced recalls. On top of all of these benefits, you also improve product and thus patient safety.

To comply with industry standards, pharmaceutical companies should take steps to modernise their manufacturing processes, beginning with upgrading their batch control software. Anything else would be like putting the cart before the horse.

 

@copadata  @COPADATAUK #PAuto #SCADA

Nobody knows!

30/06/2016
I thought they had a plan!” – Junker

At this stage it is difficult to say how automation will be effected. Ireland has always tended to be regarded (despite our best efforts) to be lumped in with Britain by many automation suppliers. In many cases Irish business is handled directly from Britain rather than within the country itself – despite the fact that not everybody in Britain understands that Ireland is different and not a smaller version of the British Market. There was also the problem of different currencies but that was a problem that pre-dated the introduction of the Euro.

BrexitNobody really expected this  result. So despite people saying that they had “contingency plans” in reality the answer to all questions is “Nobody knows!”

The puzzled words of the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Junker sum up European frustration – “I don’t understand those advocating to leave but not ready to tell us what they want. I thought they had a plan”

Arc Advisary’s Florian Gueldner has written “The impact could exceed the 2009 crisis for European companies, but ARC is actually less pessimistic. However, we think that the Brexit will hinder growth in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Overall, it is a difficult and challenging task to identify all the dynamics and even more to quantify them later.”

Comments from others!

After Brexit: It’s Time to Model Your Supply Chain (Phil Gibbs, Logistics Viewpoints, 6/8/2016)
Brexit May Take A Toll On Tech Jobs In The UK And EU (Ron Schneiderman, IEEE Careers July 2016)
The two sides of solar (after Brexit) (Neil Mead, Automation, 21/7/2016)
Manufacturers fear ‘Brexit’ fallout as trading outlook weakens (Process Engineering 19 July 2016)
Fresh air with Brexit!

(Nick Denbow @processingtalk 5 July 2016)
How Will Brexit Affect Global Supply Chains?
(Steve Banker Logistics Viewpoints 5 July 2016)
The Future for EU and UK Laws on Cookies after ‘Brexit’
(Bmon 3 July 2016)
Concerned but Hopeful views from Irish Construction Industry Experts after Brexit Vote
(Irish Building 29 June 2016)
Effects of Brexit on the Automation Markets
(Arc Advisory Group 24 Jun 2016)
Industry bodies call for ‘clear’ exit strategy
(Process Automation 24 June 2016)

Ireland is unique in that there is a land border with the British state and it is our biggest trading partner. What will happen? Ireland an Britain have had a mutual co-operation and passport free travel since 1928 – pre European Union. That is now all has changed. What exactly this will mean? Nobody knows!

Britain may become less attractive to foreign investors as it may be cut off from the single market. This will effect Ireland of course. Trade in both directions will probably suffer. Nobody knows!

In Britain Siemens has stopped a major project it was planning in the energy field and we are hearing of more and more postponements in projects there. Certainties have become “maybes” or “Don’t knows!”

The IET said the vote to leave the EU could result in a number of negative impacts on engineering in Britain, including exacerbating their engineering and technology skills shortage by making it more difficult for companies to recruit engineers from other EU countries, including Ireland.

Other issues identified include changes to access to global markets and companies, a decline in funding for engineering and science research, and a weakening of their influence on global engineering standards.

In the area of Standards, there has been a gradual assimilation of standards between all 28 countries to a common European Standard in all sorts of areas. Standards, and many other activities are handled by European Offices which are based in various countries. (For instance we have just learned that the EU Office of Bank Regulation, which is based in London, will be moved to another European city.)

Engineering qualifications is another area where things may change. Will the EU recognise British qualifications and vice versa? Probably, but we don’t know! As a straw in the wind we do know that the legal profession may be effected and the Law Society of Ireland has had an extraordinary increase in applications from British Lawers for affiliation as outside of the EU they will not be able to practice in European Courts. Will that apply to other professions?

The legal situation at present is that Britain is a fully paid-up member and will remain so until they activate Article 50 application. In reality Britain is being excluded already from important meetings for the first time in forty three years.

As mentioned earlier Arc Advisory issued a short paper, in the immediate aftermath of the referendum result, on the effects of Brexit on the Automation Markets. It is worth a quick look.Florian Gueldner concludes his paper, ‘All I can say at this point is, to quote the British writer Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic!”’

 

#Brexit #PAuto #TandM

The internet of zombies.

27/06/2016
Last year, a Radware report stated more than 90 per cent of companies surveyed had experienced some sort of cyber attack. However, the term internet of zombies describes a more advanced kind of attack. Here, Jonathan Wilkins of EU Automation discusses the internet of zombies and how companies can prepare for the outbreak. 

Since Dawn of the Dead was first released in 1978, the possibility of a viral outbreak that will turn us all into night crawling, flesh-eating zombies has become a worry for many and a very prolific Hollywood theme. While it’s unlikely this will ever happen, industry has recently started facing an epidemic across IT systems that companies should be aware of. The internet of zombies won’t result in the end of civilisation, but it does put your company’s confidential information at risk. 

Internet_ZombiesThe term internet of zombies, was coined by cyber security solutions provider, Radware in its Global Application and Network Security Report 2015-16. The concept refers to the rise of an advanced type of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, named Advanced Persistent Denial of Service (APDoS). This type of attack uses short bursts of high volume attacks in random intervals, spanning a time frame of several weeks.

In 2015, more than 90 per cent of companies surveyed by Radware experienced a cyber attack. Half of these were victims of an APDoS – up from 27 per cent in 2014.  The report by Radware suggested 60 per cent of its customers were prepared for a traditional attack, but not an APDoS.

Typically, APDoS attacks display five key properties: advanced reconnaissance, tactical execution, explicit motivation, large computing capacity and simultaneous multi-layer attacks over extended periods. The attacks are more likely to be perpetrated by well-resourced and exceptionally skilled hackers that have access to substantial commercial grade computing equipment.

Hackers use virtual smoke screens to divert attention, leaving systems vulnerable to further attacks that are more damaging, such as extortion and theft of customer data.  While the financial services sector is most likely to be targeted, almost anyone can fall victim to the highly effective attacks.

This type of attack is becoming increasingly common in retail and healthcare, where data is considered to be up to 50 per cent more valuable. As IT systems across different sectors become more automated, cyber security specialists are predicting these persistent attacks will happen even more frequently.

Businesses need to find new ways to fight the internet of zombies and can prepare for the outbreak by ensuring they’re equipped to make decisions quickly at the first sign of a hack. Combining several layers of virtual protection with skilled professionals should be the first line of defence for information security.

Paying for additional capacity when developing a website can make the process costly; so many companies scale their system to match a predictable peak. However, in an APDoS attack, sites can experience ten or 20 times more traffic than their usual maximum so it makes sense to allow a healthy margin of error when developing a system.

Having a response plan in place will also improve the chances of restoring a system before any major damage is done. The plan should include preparing contact lists and procedures in advance, analysing the incident as it happens, performing the mitigation steps and undergoinga thorough investigation to record the lessons learned.

It’s likely that zombie films will be as popular as ever in 2016, with another instalment of Resident Evil on the cards. Let’s make sure that the internet of zombies doesn’t rear its head as well by preparing ourselves for the outbreak of APDoS that’s heading our way.

@euautomation #PAuto #Cybersecurity @StoneJunctionPR

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