Brought to you by ControlGlobal.com and Putman Media December 7, 2006

Headlines from Today's Activities
- Industrial Wireless Needs Top-Down, Engineered Approach
- Invensys Shows ECS Benefits, Adds Real-time Condition Management
- Control System Security Likened to a Journey, Not an End
- SimSci-Esscor Marks 40 Years of Simulation Innovation

Industrial Wireless Needs Top-Down, Engineered Approach
First enumerating the considerable promise and not inconsiderable obstacles to widespread implementation of wireless technology, Invensys Process Systems' Hesh Kagan outlined the company's strategy for making wireless a real and sustainable technology for process manufacturers to a standing-room-only crowd at the Invensys Process Systems Customer Conference.

"The very physics of wireless and its many potential applications dictate that a variety of frequencies and protocols will be used," Kagan said. "You have to think of wireless as an enterprise-wide technology. Our approach is to look at wireless from the top down, rather than allow point solutions to spring up on an ad hoc basis."

Sure, a single point solution may work fine, he explained, but what happens when you roll out a second and a third? "That's when people tend to get into trouble," Kagan said. Even if they all use the same wireless protocol, each application will almost certainly use a different set of system management tools that are guaranteed to be unique. Keeping these various networks up and running is not so much an issue of technology as it is of ongoing network maintenance, he said.

Instead, Invensys' approach is to design an engineered solution that normalizes, at the access point level, the data, security and systems management model. In non-networking parlance, he's essentially talking about a wireless middleware layer that, once in place, can accommodate a plug-and-play wireless environment.

To make this multi-protocol, multi-frequency wireless world a manageable reality, Invensys has partnered with Apprion, a company that has developed and deployed these types of systems in a variety of demanding environments—such as battleships. "We see this world in layers," explained Ian McPherson, Apprion business development manager. "The purpose is to create an engineered framework, a unified structure of access points that accommodate multiple frequencies and multiple protocols all integrated into one common security and management model," he said.

Together with initial site assessment and application needs analysis services, the full Invensys wireless offering—available today—includes a common, engineered infrastructure as well as plant-wide network support applications. Through Apprion, Invensys even offers managed performance agreements to remotely and proactively monitor, maintain and optimize the health of clients' wireless infrastructure—thus reducing management impact on IT and automation organizations.

"The very physics of wireless and its many potential applications dictate that a variety of frequencies and protocols will be used." Invensys' Hesh Kagan on the need to approach and manage wireless as an enterprise-wide technology.

 

Invensys Shows ECS Benefits, Adds Real-time Condition Management
Educating its customer base on the game-changing potential of the enterprise control system (ECS) in principle—and the company's InFusion ECS in particular—was an overarching theme of the 2006 Invensys Process Systems Customer Conference held this week in Dallas.

Announced with much fanfare in April of this year, the InFusion ECS combines features and capabilities from across Invensys with advanced enterprise information and integration technologies from both Microsoft and SAP. It is intended to dramatically reduce integration cost and effort across the multi-vendor control environment typical of today's process companies. In concept, the InFusion platform acts as a middleware layer, eliminating the fragile and labor-intensive point-to-point efforts typical of past integration efforts.

"InFusion is real—it's more than a Powerpoint concept but a platform for realizing business benefits," said Grant Le Sueur, InFusion marketing director, taking the stage to demonstrate the system's deliverable components, each with a real part number and price. Those components fall into three functional groups including platform pieces for engineering, applications and integration; visualization tools for viewing and collaboration; and an information suite for information management and analysis.

Among the new functionality announced this week is the InFusion Condition Manager, which builds upon the company's Avantis.CM technology to provide the ability to collect real-time condition data. InFusion Condition Manager collects, aggregates, and analyzes real-time data from a wide array of plant production assets. These can include intelligent field devices such as sensors and actuators; rotating and non-rotating equipment such as pumps, motors, compressors, turbines, dryers, and heat exchangers; and even entire process units. This real-time asset information is then put into proper context and made available to other plant and enterprise systems within the InFusion ECS environment.

"InFusion Condition Manager can help enable organizations move from a reactive to a proactive environment in which they can effectively predict and prevent problems before they occur to be able to focus resources on improving asset performance," said Neil Cooper, general manager of Invensys' Avantis enterprise asset management (EAM) unit.

"Effective condition management has become even more critical as today's industrial organizations are dealing with a shortage of skilled technicians due to an aging workforce," added Le Sueur. "That's why we're so pleased to be able to offer InFusion Condition Manager as a very cool new capability within the InFusion enterprise control system."

"One issue InFusion resolves is, 'How do I get content from many sources to many consumers in a secure and highly interactive form?'" Invensys' Grant Le Sueur, shown in front of the company's out-sized InFusion Collaboration Wall, just one of the visualization formats designed to encourage collaboration.

 

Control System Security Likened to a Journey, Not an End
Ernie Rakaczky, business development manager for control system security for Invensys Systems Canada Inc., began a roundtable discussion on control system security here at the Invensys Process Systems Customer Conference by saying, "We're all on a journey together. Control system security is not a product but a path. It is important that we all work together, on this journey, with the end user community playing an active role." The point of the journey, he went on, "is to provide a more secure cyber infrastructure."

On this journey, Rakaczky noted, "no effort is too little, and there is no one perfect way." Very often, he said, people are paralyzed by the huge job control system security has turned out to be, but "there is support," he said, "and no one is alone."

Like Invensys' cube puzzle logo, Rakaczky posited a set of interlocking interests and functions for control system security with the end user at the center of the puzzle, and academia, standards and other non-governmental organizations, IT security suppliers, control system suppliers, and government agencies fitting together in a ring of protection around the end user.

As a control systems vendor, Rakaczky said, it is Invensys' job to try to maintain a balance between openness and functionality on the one hand, and security and protection on the other. Invensys is building network security into products, both for the installed base and for future development, as well as defining and practicing internal objectives within the company for security policies that apply not only to Invensys' own business practices but also to their security interactions with their customers.

Vendors, Rakaczky said, including Invensys, need to provide a set of security support services including assessment, design, implementation and management, and take a lifetime focused view of how to best serve the end user community with security. But, he said, it is up to the end users to provide guidance on their needs and requirements, with strong interaction and collaboration with the vendor community.

Security technology leaders, Rakaczky said, need to understand what is unique about the controls environment, and how best to provide evaluation and testing support for their products. Government and academia need to take a lifetime focused position on their security awareness and contribution to the issue, and provide stronger collaboration in development cycles.

Larry Spoonemore, of the Southern Company, provided an end user viewpoint. One of his major issues is how best to apply systems management to legacy process control systems. "When we're disabling unused ports, services, and user accounts, how do we tell which ones to disable? How do we detect and prevent introduction of malicious code, and how do we recover?" he said. "After all, we can't always just re-boot when we do a back-up and restore after an incident."

Spoonemore's litany of security needs continued. "We need our control systems and networking vendors to test and approve antivirus protection and security patches, and then we need to do our own testing before we apply them, for safety's sake." He said that design change management, often ignored now, is a future must-do requirement. "New or updated systems need to be secured.” Security requirements and policies have to be developed and maintained, tested, and any changes detected and dealt with according to policies, he said.

Mark Townshend, of Enterasys, and Marty Edwards, of Idaho National Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security, concurred and continued the discussion about security policies. "It's not letting every packet on to the wire," Townshend said, "it's about letting the right packet on to the wire."

Edwards concurred. "We need to move from a culture of reliability to a culture of security; from improving awareness to increasing implementation; and from risk identification to risk reduction."

Summing up, Edwards said, "Ultimately it is up to the end user. We can all assist, but control system security requires a cultural change and a willingness to be responsible."

"No effort is too little, and there is no one perfect way." Invensys' Ernie Rakaczky urged end users to not be paralyzed by the seemingly overwhelming task of control system security.

 

SimSci-Esscor Marks 40 Years of Simulation Innovation
In 1966, Mao Tsedong started the Cultural Revolution, Charles DeGaulle took France out of NATO, IBM introduced the DRAM memory, comedians Lenny Bruce and Buster Keaton died, the musical Cabaret opened on Broadway, and Y. L. Wang and A. Paul Oleson left C. F. Braun Co. and started creating a distillation program that became SP3, the first product of a tiny new company named Simulation Sciences.

2006 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of what became SimSci-Esscor. Without modern computing techniques, modern display technology, and all of the technological aids we now take for granted, these hardy pioneers were forerunners in the creation of process simulation and optimization software. By 1971, with the introduction of PROCESS, SimSci created a high-capability comprehensive simulation software package that far exceeded competitive designs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, SimSci grew, expanded and enhanced the PROCESS product, added other products to the mix and made some strategic acquisitions.

In 1983, a company formed by Terry Greenlee and Mike Ringham to produce operator training simulators was founded and named Esscor. Esscor quickly became a strategic partner with Foxboro as it focused on the coal-fired power industry in North America.

Meanwhile, SimSci made more acquisitions, including Visual Solutions, Salumanek & Associates, Litwin/Raytheon Process Automation and Biles & Associates. The product line expanded into other modeling technologies, online dynamics and data historians. SimSci partnered with SAST to release PROTISS, a fully integrated steady state and dynamic simulator for use in the process industries both for design and operator training. A partnership was also created with Shell Oil to create ROMeo (Rigorous On-Line Modeling, equation oriented), which became the next generation of real-time optimization technology.

After an IPO in 1996, SimSci was acquired by Siebe plc in 1998, and was integrated into the industrial automation divisions of Siebe along with Foxboro, Triconex and Wonderware. Esscor parlayed its Foxboro alliance into an acquisition by Siebe in 1999, and shortly thereafter, Siebe merged with BTR to form Invensys plc.

By 2002, under the direction of Ken "KB" Brown, current acting Invensys Process Systems president, SimSci and Esscor merged into SimSci-Esscor and became the Invensys business unit that focuses on simulation for design, operations and optimization. The SIM4ME initiative was launched, focusing on integration of the simulation technologies, and the release of the integrated product DYNSIM in 2003 demonstrated the success of the consolidation.

As the limits of computer and software technologies continue to expand, SimSci-Esscor is well positioned to continue to provide the process industries with new technologies, higher fidelity and more sophisticated solutions that improve asset performance and utilization. "We are the Asset Performance Management company, and all of the core products of the company support APM, not just the brands but the services that tie on and work with each brand," said KB in his opening address to the 2006 Invensys Customer Conference earlier this week. And clearly that applies to SimSci-Esscor.

A delegation of Japanese users surprised Alistair Frasier, Simsci-Esscor general manager, with a gift of ceremonial sake honoring the company's fortieth anniversary.

 

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