Webinar Recording: Drivers for Cloud SCADA Operations

Webinar Recording: Drivers for Cloud SCADA Operations

This ISA co-hosted webinar on cloud SCADA operations was presented by Pete Rullman, SCADA expert at Honeywell Process Solutions  


Alternative solutions around virtualization, cloud and mobility are becoming more stable, reachable and cost-competitive to a larger number of industrial SCADA end-users, both large and small. These advancements, along with ever-increasing requirements for a more efficient and cost-effective solution, are leading businesses to look to the cloud as a viable resource. Additionally, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can help satisfy the demand for increased connectivity, visibility, maintainability and flexibility of systems. Benefits to be gained include delivering solutions more quickly, effectively, efficiently and securely. This ISA webinar discusses some of the drivers for industrial SCADA systems leveraging the latest cloud-based movement to better integrate and support systems, data and resources – allowing increased ability to monitor, predict and control the process system.

About the Presenter
Pete Rullman is a senior product marketing manager at Honeywell Process Solutions. He has 20+ years of experience in the oil & gas business, primarily focused on SCADA systems. He is based in Houston, Tex.

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The Unsung Hero of Eliminating Unplanned Downtime: HMI/SCADA

The Unsung Hero of Eliminating Unplanned Downtime: HMI/SCADA

This guest post was written by Matthew Wells, general manager of Automation Software Solutions at GE Digital.

We are in the midst of a massive paradigm shift in the manufacturing industry. The explosion of data and the expansion of connected systems are forcing organizations to take a proactive role in managing their operations. In turn, the HMI/SCADA landscape is changing as well. Organizations must 20151007-GEDigital-blogincrease their operator effectiveness by mobilizing to improve plant business performance, turning industrial data everywhere into actionable knowledge – and keeping these infrastructures up-to-date.

Some engineers have an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, without realizing that continuing to use obsolete systems to collect, connect, and act upon vast amounts of production data from anywhere will inevitably lead to higher, hidden costs associated with big repairs and unplanned downtime. Furthermore, aging applications and devices may not work in the future, so migrating applications will help prevent costly compatibility issues. Failure to embrace new tools and capabilities will make it impossible for many businesses to stay competitive, thus becoming obsolete in the process.

Remember Microsoft XP?

Take for example, the Microsoft® XP platform that was launched in 2001. Because of the stability it offered at the time, a large number of control systems were launched with it. But now Windows® XP’s OS is no longer supported by Microsoft, and 30 percent of the world’s PCs are still running XP. This makes Windows XP machines more vulnerable to malware than ever before, and users’ personal and financial information will be at greater risk of compromise by identity thieves.

With the number of attacks on industrial applications rising and the critical need for plant system availability, companies can take simple steps now to minimize risk. The key is for organizations to benefit from the current technology and new functionalities available to minimize risk before unplanned downtime and disaster occur. Enter HMI/SCADA.

HMI/SCADA Is the Gateway to Leverage the Industrial Internet

Many HMI/SCADA developers have embraced OPC Unified Architecture, giving their software the ability to communicate with hundreds of different devices. The enhanced security and multi-platform support of the latest OPC specification helps facilitate an integrated information management system—enabling you to leverage the benefits of the Industrial Internet.

For example, using data generated by your SCADA system will enable you to identify areas for efficiency improvement. This includes increased energy and chemical savings, lower operational costs, faster troubleshooting, and quicker responsiveness to issues leading to better decision making. In general, better facilities management through HMI/SCADA systems increases process visibility. It also involves plant staff in your efforts to reduce downtime—ultimately enabling them to better understand their role in boosting productivity and efficiency.

Testing Now Will Save You Later

Minimizing risk isn’t a one-time or once-a-year activity. With serious threats on the rise, you need to incorporate HMI/SCADA risk assessments and reviews into your schedule.

The frequency of your risk assessments depends on your particular business, industry and plant applications. Start with a conservative, achievable schedule – and you can always increase the time between assessments, as needed. Assign a champion to minimize risk in your plant operations to drive leadership and consistency to the program.

It is a fact that there are HMI/SCADA systems exposed through the Internet. If that basic fact is being ignored, there are other basics being ignored as well. Update your software with the latest patches. Make sure you employ secure-by-design technologies and methodologies. Follow the guidelines for maximizing security and minimizing risk available from your software partners. There are lots of ways to enhance your HMI/SCADA.

Reasons to Upgrade Your HMI/SCADA

One way to reduce the amount of unplanned downtime in your plant is to implement a modernization program for your control system. This can be addressed in a step-by-step approach that will not only increase uptime, but provide a range of benefits for your processing facility while preparing your plant for the future, a future where the Industrial Internet of Things is a reality.

If you do have outdated software in your plant operations, make a plan now to upgrade the right way. Rethink your HMI/SCADA strategy – securely. Some HMI/SCADA users haven’t updated their systems in 10 years or more. Don’t just upgrade. Review your system with experts and use an upgrade as an opportunity to assess and modernize.

Modernizing your system can lead to many organizational benefits, including:

  • Enhancing the security of your systems
  • Avoiding obsolescence
  • Leveraging the Industrial Internet and Real-time Operational Intelligence (RtOI)
  • Benefiting from new functionalities
  • Being able to mobilize your application – quickly and easily

The Result?

Let’s face it, today’s world is much more connected, and data is much more accessible regardless of your location. The Industrial Internet is here to stay, and minimizing risk should be a top priority for every HMI/SCADA user. Plan a risk assessment program for your organization – and stick with it. Start with simple steps, such as:

  • Take advantage of standards, best practices, and information sharing
  • Tap into software vendors who work with industry groups, government agencies, and the security research community, to continually improve industrial automation and control systems and global infrastructures
  • Upgrade unsupported software and limit user rights

There are many ways to reduce risk, but it is important to take the steps now – before unplanned downtime and disaster occur. The bottom line is using the right HMI/SCADA system can significantly reduce unplanned downtime or unexpected delays, while simultaneously improving efficiency and safety.

About the Author
Matt-WellsMatthew Wells has more than 15 years of experience in solution implementation, product development and marketing for industrial automation and manufacturing operations management software. As a general manager at GE Digital, he is responsible for leading the global Automation Software Solutions division business with a focus on industrial implementations/solutions for both manufacturing and infrastructure industries. Matthew earned a degree in biochemical engineering from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

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The Top Four Criteria for Manufacturing Software Comparison

The Top Four Criteria for Manufacturing Software Comparison

This post was authored by Mark Davidson, a principal research analyst at LNS Research.

By now many companies understand the potential benefits that can stem from implementing manufacturing operations management (MOM) software applications. The space is maturing; technology is advancing; and the benefits will only increase as solution integration capabilities, mobility, user interfaces, and other aspects progress.

Electronics manufacturing

Although automating, centralizing, and standardizing processes can improve performance, the reality is that it all starts with a successful implementation of the right solutions. The MOM software vendor landscape is vast and one size definitely does not fit all. The effectiveness of an implementation is heavily dependent on decision makers selecting the right partners for their needs.

But how do you make the right decision? By looking at data, we can examine the top criteria today’s companies are focusing on to narrow the MOM landscape to vendors and solutions that meet their needs.

Dissecting manufacturing operations survey data

Launched in July 2013, the 2013–2014 LNS Manufacturing Operations Management Survey was created by LNS Research to identify trends surrounding business processes, manufacturing culture and strategy, MOM technology adoption, and other topics that are important to business leaders. So far it has been completed by more than 150 executives and manufacturing decision makers across a broad range of industries and company sizes.

In one survey question, LNS asked respondents what criteria were most critical for selecting their company’s MOM software vendor. Survey respondents were asked to select their top three (in no particular order) from a list of 10 criteria. The figure shows the frequency with which each of the possible criteria was selected as one the top three for selecting manufacturing software. The aggregate results actually showed four criteria that stood above all the rest.

As shown in the figure, perhaps not surprisingly, companies focus first and foremost on selecting software that most correctly matches functional requirements, with 49 percent of respondents selecting this criterion.

LNS chart

With the high degree of competition in today’s global economy, any software has to be competitively priced, so software cost is the next most popular criterion, gathering 39 percent of responses. Though costs are clearly top of mind, we saw it as a positive that this response fell behind functionality. After all, software is implemented to execute its designated function effectively; therefore, the ability to do so is being prioritized over cost.

Ease of integration with existing applications was the next most popular criterion at 37 percent. Every company has an existing information technology and application landscape that any new software needs to readily fit into. This criterion can greatly affect the initial and long-term success when introducing new software.

The aggregate survey results put the fourth highest importance, with 27 percent, on “ease of use.” LNS Research observes that the bar on this criterion is set very high today, as manufacturing software users expect intuitive user interfaces specific to individual job roles and responsibilities. People are accustomed to smart phones, tablets, and personal computers that are becoming more intuitive to set up and navigate with each generation release, and this expectation has carried over to their expectations for manufacturing software user experiences.

Other less critical but still important criteria for manufacturing software comparison include proven references, ability to scale, time to implement, industry expertise of the vendor, software delivery model, and the ability or need to customize.

Additional results and key observations

In addition to questions about specific criteria, in the survey we also asked respondents which MOM software selection approach they preferred to take.

As shown in the pie chart, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents prefer to choose their manufacturing software vendor and integration services at the same time. Sometimes the software vendor will serve as the primary integration services provider, and sometimes not. But experience has shown that the choice of implementation partner is every bit as important as the software selection.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents prefer to select the software vendor first, and then select a services provider that is capable with the chosen software. Only 14 percent of respondents are leaving the software selection primarily to their trusted integration partner. This as an indication that the software solution selection process is really emphasizing the software itself and the top software evaluation criteria of functionality, cost, ease of integration, and ease of use.

Make sure to do your research

The LNS MOM Solution Selection Guide can assist companies examining these critical criteria with summaries of important evaluation information across 20 leading software vendors to help manufacturers create or narrow down their short lists. With software functionality being a top concern, the relative existing and future strengths of vendors across 25 different manufacturing application functions are summarized within the guide.

About the Author
Mark DavidsonMark Davidson is a principal research analyst at LNS Research. His primary focus is on research and development of the manufacturing operations management practice. Mark has more than 35 years of experience in automation and information technology-based products and services in the areas of strategy and business planning, corporate M&A, new business development, sales and marketing, product line management, and internal and external corporate communications. Contact Mark at: mark.davidson@lnsresearch.com.


A version of the article originally appeared at InTech magazine.

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