Focus on Profitability & Efficiency in the Process Industries
ARC Advisory Group’s 9th Process Management Academy (PMA) took place in Antwerp (B) from March 4 to 5, 2013. Overall, ARC Advisory Group had more than 100 participants who shared their experiences and took the opportunity to network. The forum included presentations from Euriware-Areva, Siemens, Bayer Technology Services, SAP, OMV, HIMA, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, and ARC, among others. The following topics were addressed:· Continuous vs. Batch: How Technology Helps Us to Rethink Traditional Production Methods; Real-time Process Feedback; Energy & Material Efficiency Optimization; Enterprise Asset Management in the Regulated Industries.
Among the highlights were four workshops dealing with Cyber Security, Big Data & the Cloud and Managing Process & Product Data in the Information Age, 3D Simulation & Training in Process Applications, and Optimizing Supply Chains & Demand Response. In these workshops, suppliers and users shared their experiences and needs with respect to products and applications.
Cyber Security in Industrial Control Systems
One of the hot topics at the Process Management Academy 2013 was cyber security in industrial control systems (ICS). The well attended workshop showed that the interest of companies for solutions to protect themselves from cyber attacks is increasing. Within the last few years the amount of reported cyber attacks on the ICS of companies has increased significantly. Also the quality of incidents has changed dramatically. In the past most of the attacks were committed by “script-kiddies” or amateur hackers and the targets in most cases were office IT systems. Nowadays an increasing number of attacks on the industrial infrastructure takes place. While office IT systems can be rebooted, reinstalled and the biggest loss is (leaked) information, attacks on ICSs pose a different risk.
On the one hand organizations close to the governments may have the ability to perform such attacks. On the other hand rival companies or competitors also have the knowledge. Another source of threats may be (former) employees or (sub-) contractors who could have grudges against their former employer and mean to harm him or sell or gain confidential information, said ARC Analyst Stefan Miksch.
• See also our ICS & Scada Security Page!
3D Simulation and Training in Process Applications
Immersive training simulation (ITS) is a form of modern training using 3D models of a process plant where the user can directly control the avatar, giving him the perception he is part of the environment. To train field operators and maintenance personnel of industrial process plants, it is more effective to provide them with a 3D simulation environment in which they can virtually move around, make decisions on their route and their interactions with equipment, than showing them a movie. Someone trained using ITS, has a ‘déjà-vu’ experience when seeing the real plant. Some ITS propose head-mounted devices, 3D projection within a ‘cave’ to make the experience more realistic. These measures increase the cost of ITS, and are not necessary for the immersive experience that can be realized on a flat screen of a standard PC.
A recent trend is to couple traditional operator training simulation (OTS), based in high-fidelity dynamic process simulation, where an operator operates a virtual plant behind a virtual console, and while simultaneously the field operators experience the plant changes on instruments in the simulated field.
What do Big Data and the Cloud Mean to the Process Industries?
At the workshop to explore the impact of Big Data and the Cloud a panel of experts from Siemens, SAP, Microsoft and independent consultant Klaus Koch set the tone for discussion with statements about what Big Data means in the process industries.
One cause of “Big Data” is the digitalization of information that used to be stored on paper. For process users, this means CAD drawings of facilities and process documentation. The move from 2D to 3D CAD caused a leap in the size of CAD files, as does the integration of images created with 3D laser scanners. At the same time, system configuration data for DCS, field devices and engineering and operator stations have grown explosively. Finally, data recorded for operator training and simulation means huge, unwieldy files have to be stored, archived, retrieved and managed.
The Cloud is a solution for Big Data that will play a growing role for process users in the near future. The “public” Cloud is simply any public area on the internet where data can be stored and viewed. This includes social media sites and blogs. A “private” Cloud is data center, usually off-site, that either belongs to the process user’s organization or is operated on the organization’s behalf by a service provider. The workshop attendees brought in views from a variety of end-user industries to discuss which data belong in the Cloud and which data should be handled locally. It was agreed that all mission-critical data should be stored and handled onsite, while other data, such as product schedules that are shared with supply chain partners, would be good candidates for the open, but secure, environment of a private Cloud.
Supply Chain Optimization and Demand Response
The most futuristic discussion at the 2013 PMA was the one in the workshop on “Supply Chain Optimization and Demand Response”.
The main theme in the discussion was the challenge to deal with the constant urge to produce smaller batches and react fast to consumer demand. The workshop was kicked off with an obligatory Henry Ford quotation: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants…so long as it is black”. This comparison to the good old days showed the difference between the variations of the Tin Lizzy and modern cars, such as the Opel Adam (60,000 variations for the outside, 82,000 for the interior).
So, what are the next steps? Production in containers is currently tested but not likely to have a broad impact on the landscape within the next 5 to 10 years. PAT is already changing the pharmaceutical industry today. Single use technologies are also enabling shorter response times in batch processing – especially in the pharmaceutical industry and bioactive materials – where they are established, but still an emerging technology. Micro reactors also have the potential to change manufacturing as you know it today; here a similar system of modularization and scaling up in numbers is used. The technology is available today, but there are still technological issues to solve. In the future, 3D printing can alter the manufacturing landscape fundamentally – ARC has published various reports on this topic. Research shows that at some point in the future micro reactors can be printed by 3D printers … imagine that you can print a chemical plant in 50 years.
Looking at the market dynamics and technological challenges ahead, profitability and efficiency in the process industries will surely keep everyone busy until ARC Europe’s next year’s event.