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April 9, 2008

Headlines from Today's Activities
- Centum VP Completes Operational Excellence Platform
- Chevron Sings Praises of MAC Approach
- Advances Needed in Control System Cyber Security
- Best Practices in Securing Process Automation Networks
- Fieldbus: What Operators Need to Know

Centum VP Completes Operational Excellence Platform
Thirty-three years after it introduced the distributed control system, Yokogawa Electric Corp. demonstrated the completion of its VigilantPlant Operational Excellence initiative at the Technology Fair, held in conjunction with the company’s 2008 Users Conference this week in Houston. Centum VP, an integrated production control system that will become the flagship platform for the initiative, is designed to offer a unified architecture based on a real-time database, reliability, compatibility and intuitive HMI.

VigilantPlant, Yokogawa's automation concept for safe, reliable and profitable plant operations, aims to enable an ongoing state of operational excellence where plant personnel are watchful and attentive, well-informed and ready to take actions that optimize plant and business performance.

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Centum VP (for VigilantPlant) is the latest generation of Yokogawa’s decades-long evolution of distributed control systems. The new system is on display at the company’s Users Conference and Technology Fair this week in Houston.


Chevron Sings Praises of MAC Approach
Because of the increasing technical complexity of modern automation systems requiring focused expertise a main automation contractor (MAC) can provide access to the best technology and automation specialists available, can give long-term input to product development, aid with project management, and enforce automation standardization to facilitate design consistency and efficiency.

A MAC approach helps to leverage suppliers’ core competencies during front-end engineering and design (FEED), said Chevron’s Jay James, PE, senior instrument engineer, process automation group.

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“EPC contractors have not had experienced system engineers.” Chevron’s Jay James on the company’s successful use of main automation contractors (MACs) for project execution.


Advances Needed in Control System Cyber Security
“I am very passionate about this subject,” said Rob Hoffman from Idaho National Laboratory (INL), “because when Idaho National Lab got hacked, I was doing IT work, and I got tabbed to ‘make sure this never happens again.’” Hoffman went on to become the leader of the Control System Security Program (CSSP) at INL, one of the government national laboratory foundations working with the Department of Homeland Security to protect the national infrastructure.

“There’s a new book out,” Hoffman said. “It is called Hacking SCADA: Industrial Network Security from the Mind of the Attacker. You can buy it at Barnes and Noble. It has become fashionable in hacker circles to talk about control systems and how to use commonly available tools to enter and control the systems you all work with and maintain.”

Hoffman went on to describe the differences between IT security on enterprise systems and control-system cyber security. IT systems tend to last three to five years, while control systems last at least twenty.

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“We need to build a culture of reliability, security and resilience,” says Idaho National Lab’s Rob Hoffman discussing the need for cooperation among government, industry and international organizations to reduce control system threats.


Best Practices in Securing Process Automation Networks
Once upon a time, began Nate Kube, CTO of Wurldtech Security, process control networks were isolated or “air-gapped” from enterprise networks; they used proprietary communications and products. Differing technologies prevented cross-pollination and there was zero perceived risk by stakeholders of outside intrusion.

“Today, however, we see rapid adoption of industrial Ethernet and distributed control systems based on open networks,” Kube said. “There is interoperability, and real-time data access is a key functionality. There is an increase in the frequency, severity and complexity of cyber threats. Security in the process industries is not well understood, and the ownership of security issues is unclear.

» Read more

“You are not secure because you did vulnerability analysis, and you are not secure because of the latest patch.” Wurldtech’s Nate Kube discussed the maturing practice of evaluating and managing control system risks.


Fieldbus: What Operators Need to Know
Chuck Carter, center director of the Fieldbus Center at Lee College of Baytown, Texas, discussed the requirements for technical training necessary for operators who are trained and knowledgeable about fieldbus and how to use it. Carter called his presentation at this week’s Yokogawa Users Conference “Fieldbus 1—A Roadmap for Gaining Critical Skills.”

Carter began with a little history lesson about the Fieldbus Center and how it has evolved from its beginnings in 1998 with a pilot installation and a few students. In 2000, the center received its first NSF grant to build fieldbus education for industry. In 2001, the center started providing instructor workshops for college instructors. “If you’re a college teacher, see me afterwards…” Carter cracked.

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“In an environment of rapidly changing technologies, foundational skills become even more critical, ” says the Fieldbus Center’s Chuck Carter discussing an effective training plan for getting operators up and running on fieldbus.

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