Automate, integrate, optimize, and protect

Think Again: Automation needs to be interconnected, optimized, and protected. Here’s why.


This rig, in Houston at the 2013 Automation Fair, by Rockwell Automation, is used for fracking oil production. Critical assets like this one from M.G. Bryan can cost as much as $1 million. Predictive maintenance enabled by smart, integrated automation ensAutomate your systems where it makes sense. Optimize systems and integrate information for those who need it, provide context to add value, and make smarter decisions. See 416 reasons to get over any insecurity about implementing multi-layer cyber security processes and technologies.

Automate, integrate

Automated and connected enterprises are optimized for rapid value creation and supply chain integration; they are collaborative, demand driven, compliant with standards and regulations, sustainable, and secure, according to Keith Nosbusch, chairman and CEO, Rockwell Automation. Connected enterprises will improve the standard of living for all, create a safer and more accessible food supply, provide more effective treatment of water and wastewater, improve energy management, and create safer and more cost-effective mining, along with affordable oil and gas production. Connected enterprises can accelerate faster than competitors, Nosbusch said.


Automation ensures this equipment, used for fracking, is protected. The M.G. Bryan rig was at the 2013 Automation Fair, by Rockwell Automation, in Houston in November. Courtesy: CFE Media, Mark T. HoskeThe Internet of everything will create $14 trillion in value, and the greatest value, by sector, is in manufacturing at 27%, Cisco said. Enablers include cloud mobility, big data analytics, smart things, and security. Cisco also noted that 52% of manufacturers said they’d be using hybrid cloud configurations within 2 years. Mobility is inevitable, as 63% of businesses permit employees to bring their own mobile devices, cited Nosbusch, and, by 2015, 60% of information workers will interact via mobile devices. Enterprise are interested in big data and analytics, according to Aberdeen research, to support collaboration, 39%; to enable more fact-based decisions, 37%; and to find better ways to serve customers, 33%.

Manufacturing generates more data than any other sector, according to a McKinsey report. Even so, data historically has been trapped in assets without context. The key is to use automation to break down barriers and create actionable information, augmenting quality and energy efficiency, for a broader set of users. “Transform data to knowledge and eventually to wisdom,” Nosbusch said. He said that using a unified network infrastructure for the enterprise with an integrated control architecture will better connect people for collaboration and faster problem solving. That can include, for instance, doing a better job associating alarms to particular process conditions, he noted.

Examples include King’s Hawaiian, which integrates more than 11 production machines for remote monitoring of processes. Toyota has plant-wide visibility and analytics, with access to EPA data, views into root causes of lost production, and real-time access to oven temperatures, for a reduction of rework by nearly a third during one year, saving more than $300,000. For oil production equipment, remote asset monitoring and predictive modeling avoids costly breakdowns by benchmarking multiple locations to identify operating parameters outside the norm. (See related photos online.) A cement company uses active energy management controlling pump, fan, and conveyor efficiencies to see what was supposed to happen as opposed to what did happen. This provides a full picture of energy use as a controlled variable. 

Get secure: 416 days average time

What damage could someone do inside your computer and control systems in 416 days? That’s the average time before a cyber security breach is discovered, according to Michael Assante, advisor and director at National Board of Information Security Examiners. And worse, after discovery, some companies leave the door open longer than that, because they don’t know how to approach cleaning up the mess, for a host of technology, liability, safety, shareholder, intellectual property, and other reasons. Making a dismal discovery worse for more than 90% of the breaches, a third party informed the victim of the attack. By the way, Assante said, every one of these had updated security software and followed recommended procedures.

What else should companies do? A few basic steps include scanning USB sticks upon insertion, doing a network password reset for all devices, and training, especially for system integrators, including newly available certification. Think again: “Not all threats can be thwarted, but companies need to act diligently, or they will fall prey,” Assante said.

These comments came from sources at Automation Fair and associated events by Rockwell Automation in Houston during November. 

- Mark T. Hoske, content manager CFE Media, Control Engineering,


See related articles on cyber security below.

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