5 Things You Can Do Long Distance: Manage Your Control System Remotely

Apr 30, 2013 4:20:00 AM | Posted by Jason Montroy

Did you know that an off-site provider can perform many of the activities required to keep your control systems healthy?

With the convergence of information technology and operational technology (IT and OT), off-site providers can execute more and more control system tasks remotely. Reduction of onsite costs and the ability to focus resources on production has led many manufacturers to take advantage of remote management. It also makes for smart strategic planning: over the next four years, up to 40% of the automation workforce will be retiring. What does this mean? Manufacturers must get creative about how they staff their plants from an automation standpoint.

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Red and Blue Team Training Brings ICS Cyber Security Weaknesses To Light

Apr 23, 2013 4:09:00 AM | Posted by Bruce Billedeaux

As a follow up to last week’s discussion on five industrial control system cyber security mistakes, I want to talk about a cyber security exercise I participated in at the ICS Cyber security (301) Training I attended recently. The five-day event featured hands-on training in cyber security and the week concluded with a red team / blue team exercise that took place within an actual control system environment.

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5 Industrial Control System Cyber Security Mistakes

Apr 16, 2013 9:33:00 AM | Posted by Bruce Billedeaux

Recently, I attended ICS Cyber Security (301) Training at the U.S. DHS CERT facility in Idaho Falls, Id. The five-day event featured hands-on training in discovering who and what is on the network, identifying vulnerabilities, learning how those vulnerabilities may be exploited, and learning defensive and mitigation strategies for ICSs (industrial control systems). Here are five key takeaways from that training.

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The Loop, The Whole Loop, And Nothing But The Loop

Apr 9, 2013 3:20:00 AM | Posted by Bruce Brandt

As control engineers, we often get tunnel vision. We get very focused on a single task such as creating our control module configuration and lose sight of the bigger picture – creating a control system. While working on my bachelor’s degree, I worked as an instrument designer for big A&E firms that built power generation stations. My job was to specify instrumentation and control elements for these projects, design control panels, create loop sheets for the hookup of the electronic instruments, and installation details for the sensing side – or in the case of pneumatic instruments – the pneumatic tubing. At that point in my career, a loop was from sensor to controller and from controller to control element. I had nothing to do with specifying the controller itself, which at that time was typically a standalone device mounted on the control panel. I also completed all drawings to control the operation of electrical prime movers, which were wired back to the switches on the control panel.

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Fire Fighting 101: The Six Basics Of Service Calls

Apr 2, 2013 3:53:00 AM | Posted by William Zupon

For some of us, one of the most challenging type of work we will perform is a service call. Let’s start by defining a few different types of service calls: scheduled, follow-up, and fire fighting.

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Four Myths And Ideas About Creating The Next Generation Of Automation Engineers

Mar 26, 2013 3:41:00 AM | Posted by Chad Harper

There seems to be a wealth of articles detailing the problems we have in our automation industries with finding and developing new talent. There are statistics that say there is a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students in our universities, that there are not dedicated degrees that focus on automation, and that the demographics in our industry will drive us off a resource cliff. The conclusions in a lot of these articles recommend large, high-level initiatives to grow interest in STEM degrees at the high school and college level, and somehow change the macro-course of U.S. education.

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The Pace Of Technological Innovation, Or, Where’s My Flying Car?

Mar 19, 2013 4:19:00 AM | Posted by Bruce Brandt

New technologies, or more properly technology reporters, have promised us over and over that the latest innovation just unveiled will, in the very near future, transform our lives in ways we never imagined. Well, I’m still waiting for that flying car I was promised fifty years ago. Why can’t I buy one?

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Plug-And-Play Doesn’t Happen By Luck

Mar 12, 2013 5:10:00 AM | Posted by Mike Robb

Have you ever worked on a project where several pieces of equipment from different manufacturers were purchased with the expectation that the equipment would just plug together and work? On small-scale items, that might be real possibility, but on a larger scale, such as an entire plant or a retrofit of a plant, assuming that everything will simply work can create serious problems. Success must be engineered. Once the mechanical issues are ironed out, there are multiple things to consider from a controls perspective, such as system integration for the different systems, control philosophy, and communication protocols, among other items.

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