How to remain safe and profitable during Industry 4.0

The arrival of Industry 4.0 is already starting to transform modern industrial operations, paving the way for the smart factories of the future. With the advances it has brought, operators can access an expanded range of ‘anytime, anywhere’ device-level data including measured value, configuration settings and alarms, to achieve a deeper insight into what is happening throughout their process.

The Industry 4.0 framework assumes that cyber-physical systems communicate with one another in real time and create the ‘Internet of Things’. The framework identifies with the concept that all devices are interconnected wirelessly. In this scenario, there is no centralized control system as in today’s Industry 3.0 plant. The Industry 4.0-enabled Smart Factory SIS of the future will be known as the ‘Cyber Physical System’.

The supporters of the Industry 4.0 concept expect that the inherent optimisation features will increase profitability and increase production flexibility which can be used to rapidly adapt the business operational model to market changes.

However, with the expanded availability of data across multiple inter-connected devices and platforms comes the need to ensure greater levels of protection against unauthorised access and potential attacks.
"It is imperative that the Industry 4.0 plant system environment is verified as being cyber secure"
As we all recognise, process plants are hazardous in nature as they process a multitude of flammable, explosive or toxic materials, such that the consequences of cyberattack present potential for multiple fatalities or environmental disaster. Given this, the question is what will be the key challenges for Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) that are to be designed and operated as per the Smart Factory concept?

Impact on safety devices 
The underlying principle of Industry 4.0 is that all systems and devices that utilise IP addresses are connecting to the globally accessible Internet infrastructure directly or via wireless. It is therefore a key imperative that the Industry 4.0 plant system environment is verified as being cyber secure.

By its very nature, the use of wireless communication in control systems is open to natural environmental, as well as human influences. It includes lightning, adverse weather, solar magnetic storms, solar plasma ejection, and obstacles such as buildings or plant equipment. Human influences can come from other wireless devices and from the increased wireless infrastructure via hackers and terrorists.

Downloading from the Cloud the required data for plant system operation, as well as available software patches, malware scanners and antivirus programs, requires plant systems to access ‘big data’ in cyberspace which may influence the stability of the plant process.

Any ‘real time’ communication will need to be fast enough to facilitate industrial process automation requirements. Currently the available safety fieldbuses which would form the core of the Industry 4.0 environment are too slow to be used for every process safety application.

Increased software versions and shortened device life time will prevent the user from obtaining good “prior use” or “proven in use” evidence for a device to be used in a safety application.

The devices and systems in the smart factory will have increased software complexity. Powerful new software tools will be the enablers for much of this advancement. As our software dependency increases, our incentive for higher levels of software reliability becomes greater. Ultimately, “Human Factors” may be the weakest link of Industry 4.0 for safety related systems.  

Industry 4.0 promotes device and system modularisation. Future factory operations will consist of modules that may be connected like ‘bricks’ within the automation foundation. The modularisation concept may conflict with the required ‘performance’ based approach for the design and development of a safety system.

The design of such systems, includes the creation of cyber-physical systems where the field devices are programmable, are connected to the Internet, are also modularized (different device parts, from different providers) and feature wireless connectivity as a default configuration. Achieving this places a great emphasis on the competency of the designer, software developer, operators and maintenance personnel across the entire safety lifecycle. Consequently, it is envisaged that operation and maintenance of Industry 4.0 systems will require much more in-depth support by vendors, manufacturers and third parties because operators will not be able to carry out all operations (as the automation complexity increases to expert level diagnostic capabilities) and supporting system maintenance activities by themselves.

How can the problem be addressed?
Currently there are no standards that can provide a framework for an Industry 4.0 safety system. In order to switch to the Industry 4.0 concept for SIS, stakeholders and investors will be required to place an ever-greater emphasis on personnel competencies and focus on functional safety management linked with cyber security management.

As further integration of the control, safety and business systems environment occurs, end users will need to partner with leading manufacturers and service organisations to develop intelligent engineering, intelligent infrastructure, collaborative technical support centres and encourage the necessary development of the increases in supply chain safety related competency assurance.

The takeaway question
Are you already placing greater emphasis on developing your safety lifecycle management approach and organisational systematic capabilities for merging the requirements of IEC 61511 and IEC 62443 to prepare for Industry 4.0? ABB can help you integrate these systems to make your operations profitable and safe in this new marketplace – find out more here

Need help? Contact us if you want to talk through what this could look like for your facility.

How to remain safe and profitable during Industry 4.0 How to remain safe and profitable during Industry 4.0 Reviewed by Lorine Wyman on February 05, 2018 Rating: 5

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