Society goes to the polls.

07/09/2016

Irish candidate goes forward for most senior role in Automation Society

The polls were opened recently for the election of leadership positions for 2017 in the International Society of Automation (ISA). The ballot is for election of new leaders by direct vote of eligible ISA members.

This year for the first time a candidate from the Ireland Section has been nominated for the position of President-elect Secretary. This position is a commitment for three years, the first year as Secretary of the Society, the second year as World-wide President and the third as Past President.

Those nominated for this (and indeed all officer positions in the Societed) are subjected to a rigorous pre-nomination process before their name is placed on the ballot paper. Nomination for an elected Society leadership position is an honour accorded to only a small percentage of the ISA membership.

Brian_J_CurtisBrian J. Curtis (G E Healthcare) Cobh, County Cork, Ireland (right), is one of the candidates this year. He has an impressive leadership background both in the automation industry and in other sectors industrial, commercial and recreational. He has 35 years Pharmaceutical Control Systems experience.

Speaking recently he told us that he has been a member of the ISA for over twenty years and has served in most offices in the very active local section. “I joined my local section to access ISA technical meetings, technical papers, standards and networking opportunities.” However he was also willing to participate more actively in the running of the Section and later in the greater Society, in Europe and Globally.

Brian served in many portfolios within the Ireland Section down through the years including a term as section president (1999-2000). He became Vice President District 12 of the Society (Europe, Africa & Middle East) in 2013.  He also served on the ISA Executive Board 2013 to date, and also on the important ISA Finance Committee. The various society offices involved visiting sections in Europe and the Middle East as well as attendance at various Society governance and  leadership meetings.  His service through the years has been recognised by the Society, as a recipient of the Distinguished Society Services Award, as well as recognition at Section and District levels. He says “My current challenge is working with ISA on our five strategic goals!”

electVoting in the Leadership Elections is relatively easy. Go to the ISA Home Page and look for the button “Vote Now” and follow the instructions.
Only eligible members may vote. You’ll need your ISA ID information of course.
The Ballot lists the candidates with a link to their Biographical details. The voting is simply a matter of ticking the candidate of your choice.

He shared his vision for the Society: “That ISA Sections and Divisions all work together so that membership and industry feel the benefits, both locally and globally, ensuring “ONE ISA” will prosper into the future.”

“I believe we must nurture the volunteer in the society and encourage sections, divisions and standards to work together across geographic and technical boundaries so as to harness and build upon the strength and integrity of ISA in meeting the automation challenges of the future.”

He is particularly in supporting the ISA’s pioneering work in the emerging area of cybersecurity. Industry and production methods are evolving at a fast pace and it is important to identify emerging trends and seize these as opportunities for our member’s and for automation.

He wants to strengthen the Society by encouraging co-operation and communications between sections, divisions, standards and all areas of ISA around the world. He is not afraid to support the tough strategic decisions that will allow ISA to continue to be the leader in the automation industry. It is important also to promote the lifelong opportunities that automation presents as a career for school and college graduates.

There are two other candidates for this position. They are Eric C. Cosman (OIT Concepts, LLC) Midland, Michigan, USA. He was one of the speakers at the groundbreaking Food and Pharmaceutical Symposium in Cork earlier this year. The other candidate is Glynn M. Mitchell (US Nitrogen) Greeneville, Tennessee, USA.

Although most of the Presidents of ISA since its foundation have hailed from the US there have been a handful of Presidents from other regions of the World.

#ISAuto #PAuto

Future factory – a moderator’s impression!

01/02/2016

Read-out was asked to moderate the automation stream at the National Manufacturing & Supplies conference held last week outside Dublin. (26th January 2016). In their wisdom the organisers selected “Future Factory!” as a title for this half day seminar and there were 11 speakers organised to speak on their particular subjects for about 15 minutes each. This was replicated in the the over a dozen different seminars held on this one day.

q#MSC16

Long queues lasted well into the morning to enter the event!

We were a little sceptical that this would work but with the help of the organisers and the discipline of the speakers the time targets were achieved. Another target achieved was the number of attendees at the event as well as those who attended this particular seminar.
In all between exhibitors, speakers and visitors well over 3000 packed the venue. Probably far more than the organisers had anticipated and hopefully a potent sign that the economy is again on the upturn. Indeed it was so successful that it was trending (#MSC16) on twitter for most of the day.

Seminar
But back to our seminar. If you google the term Future Factory you get back 207million links, yet it is difficult to find a simple definition as to what it means. The term automation similarly is a very difficult term to define though the term in Irish “uathoibriú” perhaps is a bit clearer literally meaning “self-working.”

uturefactory.jpg

Good attendance at the Seminar

Background
The world of automation has changed to an extrordinary degree and yet in other ways it remains the same. The areas where it has experienced least change is in the areas of sensing – a thermometer is a thermometer – and final control – a valve is a valve. Where it has changed almost to the point of unrecognisability is in that bit in the middle, what one does with the signal from the sensor to activate the final control element.

From single parameter dedicated Indicator/Controller/Recorders in the sixties which transmitted either pnuematically (3-15psi) or electrically (4-20mA). Gradually (relatively speaking) most instruments became electronic, smaller in size and multifunctional. The means of communication changed too and fieldbus communication became more common to intercact with computors which themselves were developing at breaknech speed. Then transmission via wireless became more common and finally the internet and the ability to control a process from the computer that we call the intelligent phone. There are problems with these latter, internet/cellphone, of course. One is that the reach of the internet is focussed at present on areas of high population. Another is the danger of infiltration of systems by hostile or mischivous strangers. The importance of security protocols is one that has only recently been apparent to Automation professionals.

• Many of the presentations are available on-line here. The password is manufac2016

The Presentations
Maria Archer of Ericsson spoke on the enabling and facilitating IoT in the manufacturing industry. Diving straight into topic she drew on her experience of big data, e-commerce, media, cyber security, IOT and connected devices.

The second speaker was Cormac Garvey of Hal Software who addressed Supply Chain prototyping. The Supply Chain ecosystem is incredibly complex, usually requiring significant integration of each suppliers’ standards and processes to the manufacturer’s. Cormac will introduce the concept of supply chain prototyping, where easy-to-use, standards-based technology is used to wireframe out the entire supply chain ecosystem prior to integration, thus significantly reducing cost, time and risk on the project. This wireframe can then be used as a model for future integration projects.

Two speakers from the Tralee Institute of Technology, Dr. Pat Doody and Dr. Daniel Riordan spoke on RFID, IoT, Sensor & Process Automation for Industry 4.0. They explained how IMaR’s (Intelligent Mechatronics and RFID) expertise is delivering for their industrial partners and is available to those aiming to become a part of Industry 4.0.

Smart Manufacturing – the power of actionable data was the topic addressed by Mark Higgins of Fast Technology. He shared his understanding of the acute issues companies face on their journey to Business Excellence and how leveraging IT solutions can elevate the business to a new point on that journey.

Assistant Professor (Mechanical & Manuf. Eng) at TCD, Dr Garret O’Donnell,   explained how one of the most significant initiatives in the last 2 years has been the concept of the 4th industrial revolution promoted by the National Academy for Science and Engineering in Germany- ACATECH, known as Industrie 4.0. (Industrie 4.0 was first used as a term in Germany in 2011).

Another speaker from Fast Technologies, Joe Gallaher, addressed the area of Robotics and how Collaborative Robots are the “Game Changer” in the modern manufacturing facility.

Dr. Hassan Kaghazchi of the University of Limerick and Profibus spoke on PROFINET and Industrie 4.0. Industrial communications systems play a major role in today’s manufacturing systems. The ability to provide connectivity, handle large amount of data, uptime, open standards, safety, and security are the major deciding factors. This presentation shows how PROFINET fits into Industrial Internet of Things (Industrie 4.0).

White Andreetto

Maurice Buckley CEO NSAI

The CEO of NSAI, the Irish National Standards Authority, Maurice Buckley explained how standards and the National Standards Authority of Ireland can help Irish businesses take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution and become more prepared to reap the rewards digitisation can bring.

The next two speakers stressed the impact of low forecast accuracy on the bottom line and how this coulbe be addressed. Jaap Piersma a consultant with SAS UK & Ireland explained that low forecast accuracies on the business performance is high in industry but with the right tools, the right approach and experienced resources you can achieve very significant result and benefits for your business. Following him Dave Clarke, Chief Data Scientist at Asystec, who mantains the company strategy for big data analytics service development for customers. He showed how are incredible business opportunities possible by harnessing the massive data sets generated in the machine to machine and person to machine hyper connected IoT world.

The final speaker David Goodstein, Connected Living Project Director, GSMA, described new form factor mobile SIMs which are robust, remotely manageable which are an essential enabler for applications and services in the connected world.

All in all a very interesting event and useful to attendees. Papers are being collected and should be available shortly on-line.

It is hoped to do it all again next year on 24th January 2017- #MSC17.

See you there.

@NationalMSC #MSC16 #PAuto #IoT


How cloud computing is changing industrial automation.

15/01/2016

Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of industrial automation supplier European Automation examines how cloud computing is disrupting industrial automation. 

Traditionally, the manufacturing industry has been slow to embrace new technological platforms, but in recent years the introduction and success of cloud computing has meant this technology is becoming vital for manufacturers. 

Adopting_the_cloud

Adopting the cloud!

One of the most notable changes in industry over the last years has come from advancements in remote connectivity. Traditionally, the location of manufacturing facilities was determined by ready access to water, fossil fuels or electricity grids. Today, the cloud allows manufacturers to connect and manage factory operations regardless of their location.

For demanding environments, such as the offshore oil and gas sector, this remote access is particularly valuable. The industry handles large amounts of data, usually sourced from multiple teams in remote locations. Cloud computing enables the communication of complex data between these locations and back to head office to be analysed.

What’s more, as opposed to simply managing their own operations, cloud computing allows manufacturers to manage their partners too. By working closely together and sharing business data with third party suppliers, logistics partners and other associates or manufacturers can form what is known as a ‘community cloud’. This advanced form of cloud computing allows businesses to gain insight to their entire supply chain and creates a secure platform for business partners coordinate their activities, from prototype right through to the finalised product.

Inevitably, with increased access and connectivity comes a higher security risk for manufacturers. These cyber security risks are not necessarily the work of malicious hackers, but can often be simple mistakes made by employees, such as connecting via unsecure networks, exposing the system to viruses or accidental breaches.

Despite these risks, manufacturers have few alternatives that can compete with cloud computing. Without the help of the technology, manufacturers would have to maintain expensive computing hardware and continually add more storage space to archive the ever-growing data from the factory floor.

For many manufacturers, opting for the cloud is a no-brainer. Cloud computing is capable of performing large-scale, complex computing operations for the largest of manufacturers. Even in the unfortunate event that you run out of computing resources on the cloud – a phenomenon known as ‘cloud bursting’ – manufacturers are able to spill the excess workload to an external cloud on an on-demand basis, making cloud computing a much safer and more secure alternative to in-house storage.

Despite these obvious advantages, cloud computing goes far beyond simple data storage. Many industry experts think the Internet of Things (IoT) is the next step towards the fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0. IoT simply refers to online connectivity between different industrial devices, meaning that networks of machines within a factory setting can communicate and coordinate with little human intervention. 

But how can IoT possibly thrive without ways to analyse and store the data generated? This is where cloud computing comes in. As manufacturers are forced to embrace new technology such as smart sensors, IoT and 3D printing, the cloud works to support these major industry shifts.


Automation industry veterans are IoT pioneers and didn’t know it!

28/12/2015
Keith Blodorn, Director of Program Management at ProSoft Technology advises what to consider when starting your industrial internet of things journey

Do you consider yourself an Internet of Things Engineer? You should! Think about what the Internet of Things really means. According to Wikipedia, the Internet of Things “is the network of physical objects or ‘things’ embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices…” As an automation industry veteran, that sounds really familiar. We have been connecting intelligent devices to control networks for decades. We’re pioneers!

Acoustic coupler!

Acoustic coupler!

So, then, what’s all the fuss about? Looking through automation-oriented magazines and websites, the Internet of Things seems to be all anyone talks about. In the industrial world people call it the “Industrial Internet of Things” or “Industry 4.0” or any number of other names. But fundamentally, what is so different between this new-fangled buzzword and connecting a motor overload relay to a plant communications network like we were doing twenty years ago?

On one hand, these are basically the same idea. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is about intelligent devices like overloads, photo eyes, variable frequency drives, or PLCs providing data that we use to make our processes more efficient. IIoT is a name for a trend that has been going on in manufacturing and process control for years – remember “shop floor to top floor”? IIoT is about gathering more data from more intelligent things, and using powerful analytical tools to find and eliminate waste.

Remote Monitoring and Equipment Access
I know, we’ve been connecting to PLCs remotely for as long as most of us can remember! In the old days, remote access meant installing a serial modem connected to a dedicated phone line, so the machines we made remote access-capable were limited to the most critical operations.

What’s changed in the IIoT world is the proliferation of wireless connectivity, especially cellular networks and wireless LAN. By some estimates, 85 percent of the world’s population will be covered by high-speed cellular data networks by 2017. This has had several effects that change how we should approach remote access and equipment monitoring. First, it’s becoming feasible to gather a LOT more data from remote machines. Since 2008, the average cost per MB of cellular data has dropped 98 percent, from $0.46 per MB to just $0.01 per MB. Now, all that data that we used to deem not important enough to transmit can be made available from our remote sites.

Second, as consumer demand has driven rapid development of Internet- based user interfaces, these same technologies are making remote access to industrial equipment, and especially to process data, more accessible for more people throughout the organization.

Finally, machine builders and control engineers responsible for widely dispersed global operations can build reliable connectivity into their systems without the need for custom infrastructure and integration at the end site. Cellular technology that works on networks worldwide allows these engineers to design their system around a standard remote connection, and reasonably expect that connection to work wherever the machine ends up. For mobile equipment, access is available just about anywhere the equipment goes.

Machine and Process Control
IIoT technology is not just about cellular connections to remote machines. We are seeing new networking approaches to the old requirements of connecting sensors, operator interfaces, controllers and ERP systems that take advantage of the networking technology of today’s Internet. Major automation vendors like Rockwell Automation® and Schneider Electric® have been offering industrial Ethernet connectivity for PLCs and related devices for more than a decade. Industrial Ethernet protocols like ODVA’s EtherNet/IP provide the kind of performance required for automation systems, while also enabling interoperability with the massive Internet Protocol-based network infrastructure found in virtually every organization.

In many industrial applications, moving equipment presents a major challenge for communication to the sensors, actuators, and controls on that equipment. Many products exist to try to solve this problem, from slip rings to flexible cable trays to festoons.

However, these hard-wired solutions add cost and complexity while increasing the maintenance requirements for the machine. Meanwhile, we roam around our offices and homes with continuous connection to the Internet – no festoons in sight! Today’s automation engineers are taking advantage of the Internet Protocol-based industrial technologies to design more reliable networks for moving equipment.

Asset Mobility
One area of automation where IIoT technology is creating new opportunities involves taking the network connection anywhere in the plant. Old systems offered only so many places to “plug in.” Operators had to run the machine from one place – the operator panel. Maintenance had to jot down measurements and observations to enter into the maintenance management system when they got back to the shop. Control engineers could only program PLCs by plugging into the PLC, or to the PLC’s physical network through a proprietary adapter.

In a world where I can set my home thermostat while walking through an airport, we don’t have to live like this! Automation systems are now benefiting from the same “network everywhere” mindset as our home and office environment.

Things to Consider

Keith Blodorn - the author

Keith Blodorn – the author

The Industrial Internet of Things opens up some interesting new possibilities for automation, so you should begin planning how you can get your system “IIoT Ready.” The good news is that you likely have many pieces in place already – intelligent field devices, industrial networks, perhaps even some Internet Protocol-based infrastructure. Here is some food for thought as you consider how your system can fit into this new world of connected machines.

• Network Migration – While many of your field devices are likely already on a network, it is probably not an Internet Protocol-based network. Not to worry! As you see the need to move device data up to higher-level systems, you won’t need to scrap that tried-and-true device network. Gateway devices and in-rack protocol interfaces in your controller allow you to easily connect those older networks to the IP-based applications that need that device data. Serving up data from smart devices adds value to your operation, but it doesn’t necessarily require changing everything that is already there.

• Cybersecurity – While the interoperability of the IIoT brings great benefits, it also opens up new risks that we need to address. In reality, many automation systems are already “connected,” so cybersecurity should already be on your mind. It is important to understand what equipment can be accessed by whom, what connections are necessary and not necessary, and how data that’s transmitted outside the boundaries of your organization’s network is protected.

• Start Small – Vendors everywhere have grand visions for what the IIoT can do for manufacturers. But remember, you don’t need to dive in head first to get benefits from IIoT. Look for applications in your industry that make sense, and give them a try. One of the best parts of the IIoT concept is its scalability – Internet-based applications can just as easily serve one deployment as one million. Pick an interesting application, and run a pilot in a small area. There’s no better way to learn about a new technology than by giving it a go.

• Get Help – Most importantly, work with vendors you can trust. When it comes to industrial networking, ProSoft Technology® has been helping engineers get different equipment all talking the same language for more than 25 years. We can help you navigate your IIoT course, from connecting older Modbus® and PROFIBUS® networks to enabling remote equipment connectivity via cellular networks. When you’re ready to start the next phase of your IIoT journey, we’re here to help make it happen!


Still fun, still irreverent and still Jim Pinto!

09/08/2015

Some years ago Nick Denbow, happily still involved with the Automation Insiders publication, wrote an article with the thought provoking title Who are the automation thought leaders?  Among those was the irrepressible Jim Pinto, who, to quote somebody else and out of context “hasn’t gone away you know!”

True he did retire after a fashion and commenced what he called his bucket trips, trotting around the globe with the lovely Deb at his side. Of course he did not give up writing and sharing is thoughts with us. As he said himself “But, I’m a writer. As my friend Jack Grenard said, ‘a writer cannot not write.’ So, I’ve decided to continue to write the “irregular and irreverent” JimPinto.com eNews.” And he does. We marked his chage of direction in our piece “Floreat Jim Pinto!” in 2012.

This week, on one of those bucket trips, they hit the medieval and very lively city of Galway, about 20 miles east of the Read-out hub on Galway Bay, on where, in the words of the Bing Crosbie classic, the sun goes down!

Eoin Ó Riain and Séimí Pinto!

Eoin Ó Riain (Read-out) and Séimí Pinto! (The prince formally known as Jim!)

Now when somebody of eminence in automation visits our neck of the woods we do try to meet up and make them welcome. I guess it’s an Irish thing! And so we did.

And we changed his name for the occasion to the Irish version of Jim, “Séimí!” His sur-name, like the man himself, is untranslatable!

So how to describe Jim Pinto’s impact! Dick Morley (another automation thought leader), said of his writing, “When you read Jim, you have the feeling that you’re looking through a telescope’s magnifying end. With Jim you get to use the telescope with the microscope in the right direction: you see clearer, and you see things you cannot see with the naked eye.”

Pinto’s Books
Leabhair_PhintoAutomation Unplugged: Pinto’s Perspectives, Pointers & Prognostication! (Published 2003: ISA Best Seller in 2004! pdf format only available)
Pinto’s Points: How to Win in the Automation Business. (Published 2006)

And for answers to all those questions you wanted to ask but were afraid to, just go to his website!Jpinto.com

Jim honoured me some years ago to right an introductory piece for a section of his 2006 book, “Pinto’s Points: How to win in the automation business!” and I think perhaps I could repeat some of what I said there. It is part biographical but mostly it described the impact of this man whom I first “met” on-line 20 years ago when the internet was but a babe! I had been visiting the US on and off for about ten years. I lamented the fact that Americans in jobs like maintenance engineers etc seemed older and more tired in comparison with what I was used to, Professional people were inclined to be as well but worked in perhaps a more dedicated and serious way, and for longer hours. There was one thing missing. That something was – humour.

“Like a breadth of fresh air in the frenetic rush-rush of the world of automation burst Jim Pinto. Like most of us who received the benevolent influence of Mother England’s domination, he managed to make her language his own, and – combining this with an incisive mind and a superb gift of observation – he earned the title of ‘Poet Laureate of Instrumentation and Automation.’ Everythinh he touched was fun. He called his company Action – and so it was. And when the internet finally started to infiltrate even the most conservative of companies, he was ther with the wonderul URL of actionio.com. Wonderful!”

I pointed to a word, among many that I learned from him – “DISINTERMEDIATION – it is a Pintoism that has stuck in my mind. It is a word typical of the man. It is a word which makes us smile before we ask, ‘What does it mean?’

“This I think is the essence of the Jim Pinto. And it is nowhere more evident than in his poetry. It is funny, but it is serious!”

This week Read-out met the man and sat down and chatted face-to-face. And we have a photo because as somebody said “If there isn’t a picture it hasn’t happened!”

Thanks for the fun Jim, and may your list of bucket trips never be exhausted! And may you never cease to be irreverent but always full of fun and laughter!

PS: DISINTERMEDIATION? Don’t know what it means? Let Jim tell you! As he told us 15 years ago.


Man or machine? Is HAL taking over?

04/08/2015
As we enter the golden age of robotics, the fear that robots will take human jobs has slowly spread. Jobs such as assembly, farming and surgery are already being delegated to robots. Here, Darren Halford of European Automation considers if our jobs are really at risk.

epa245This speed of technological change has led Google’s director of engineering, Ray Kurzwell, to estimate that robots will, “reach human levels of intelligence by 2029”.

For many, the idea of artificial intelligence surpassing human intellect is a daunting thought. Whilst certainly not the first example of evil artificial intelligence in pop culture, HAL the homicidal computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey is a prime example of the recurring ‘robot uprising’ theme we see depicted in film and literature.

However, even in the far-flung worlds of science fiction, robots have proven to be predominately helpful – just as they have in manufacturing. From traditional six-axis, SCARA and Cartesian robots to Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) robots generally create jobs; increasing the overall number of positions available.

One of the automation trends for 2015, AGVs are mobile robots that navigate independently using magnets, lasers, vision and geoguidence and are used commonly in industrial settings to transport materials and goods in a factory or warehouse. AGVs can increase efficiency, ultimately reducing costs and, because of this, their market is growing at a rapid pace.

Unlike automated guided vehicles, more complex, manufacturing robots are usually confined to operating inside cages known as robotic work cells. These physical barriers protect human workers from potential accidents and the sheer power and speed of malfunctioning robotics. If you’ve ever seen a robot at a trade show try to return to zero without back up in the event of power cut, you will know exactly what I mean.

Despite this restriction, advances in programming mean that some robots can now operate, without enclosures, alongside humans on the factory floor. This integration revolutionises the job roles of both robot and human workers. This increases the productivity of menial tasks and frees human workers to focus on jobs that are more sophisticated.

Although still in its early stages, this man-machine collaboration is a huge step towards humans and robots working harmoniously together.

Robot trends
Cell free robotics was a theme at this year’s Hannover Messe, which also featured ABB’s wonderfully cool YuMi, a two-armed collaborative assembly assistant that can see and feel its way around an application. It has soft, padded arms that allow it to interact safely with its human counterparts.

There is no denying that some very menial labour will be replaced with technology. In fact, Deloitte and the University of Oxford predict that robots could ultimately replace ten million unskilled workers.

However, throughout history, technology has created thousands of new jobs while eliminating old ones. Consider the first half of the twentieth century, where a large percentage of working Londoners were limited to work in manufacturing and heavy industry.

Whilst some might argue that IT and communications led to a decline in heavy industry, others would say it freed workers to ‘break the habit’ and pursue a wide range of vocations outside of the factory. This, in turn, established London as the cosmopolitan metropolis and services hub that it is today.

The first robots might have been installed in factories in the 1960s, but we are only now truly entering the golden age of robotics. It will open doors to new industries and generate new roles requiring creativity, judgment, empathy and a thirst for innovation – human skills which robots can’t yet replicate. So it’s not time to worry about HAL and his compatriots just yet; your job is safe.


Does Industry know its I from its T?

03/05/2015
Industry IT security shortfalls persist!

A recent survey conducted by Electroustic revealed industry’s unsustainable approach to information security. The survey showed a pressing lack of information about the most common security risks in an age where industrial internet and remote data access are steadily being implemented on the factory floor. An impressive 34 per cent of respondents said their companies don’t have an information security policy.

The survey identified hacking as the biggest security concern – with 31 per cent of respondents worried about it – followed by human error (17 per cent) and cloud computing (11 per cent).

While it’s true that most security breaches are caused by outsider attacks, these often come in the form of malicious software and can easily be averted with the correct staff training and appropriate infrastructure.

tofino“The huge range of available IT security products for industry is a double-edged sword for many companies,” explains Paul Carr, managing director and owner of Electroustic. “Although there are a lot of options to choose from, inexperienced companies can easily end up spending a fortune on IT security systems that might not be appropriate for their specific needs.

“In terms of network security, establishing multi-layered defences using industrial firewalls, like Tofino’s Xenon (pictured), is crucial. A reliable industrial firewall should be easy to implement and manage, while also being versatile and rugged. A good IT security system should ensure a company meets and exceeds NERC CIP (North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection) requirements and ISA/IEC-62443 Standards.”

User education and awareness are two additional points in the Electroustic survey where respondents didn’t fair particularly well, which suggests industrial companies need to do more to tackle the problem.

User security policies describing best practice when using a company’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) systems should be formally acknowledged in employment terms and conditions. Additionally, IT induction programmes should be complemented with regular training on the cyber risks faced as employees and individuals.

The latest industry trends, including industrial internet, remote data access and Industry 4.0 are drastically changing the industry landscape and the skills employees are expected to bring to the table. Companies need to do more to prevent and address IT security breaches and the best way to do so is by training staff, implementing reliable industrial security solutions and keeping up to date with the latest industry developments.

• For companies just starting on the road to industry security, the latest version of the British government’s 10 Steps to Cyber Security guide is available on the GCHQ website.