Who’s iPhone goes into the plant?

When companies add communication via wireless devices, who’s device is it? Is that my iPad, or the company’s?


Dear Control Engineering: Our company is looking at using wireless devices in our plant, but they don’t want to buy any of the hardware. I’m supposed to bring my own iPad. Sure, I own one, but I don’t want to take it into the plant. Does that seem right?

As the story about mobile devices pointed out, more companies are using smart phones and tablet computers for HMI and control applications. While various situations will be different, there are reasons why companies may want to buy the devices and others why you may want to use your own. All the elements of that discussion may not be completely clear, but most arguments suggest that the company would want to own and control the devices.

This sort of thing has been going on for many years in the office as employees use their own laptops, tablets, and smart phones to access company email and the like from the road or home. One area that gets complicated from a legal standpoint relates to who owns the data on your personal device. Should your company want you to have sensitive company information on your computer? What if it wants it back? If you get fired, can it demand that information from you? Can your boss look at what’s on your computer? There have been situations where hackers have broken into corporate networks through somebody's home computer that's connected to the company network. Somebody sitting in a car outside your house within range of your home WiFi signal will probably find your home system a pretty soft target.

What about your personal information? What if you drop your iPad from a catwalk and all the photos of your wedding get destroyed? What if a virus from your computer gets transferred to the plant control system? How about the reverse?

Maybe you want to use your own device in the plant because you don’t want to use that iPad after Bubba has left slimy fingerprints all over the screen. Still, the company can probably insist that you use a company-owned device. At this point, that is probably the most prudent approach for all involved. Bring your own bottle of Windex.

Here’s a more involved discussion of the topic.

Peter Welander, pwelander@cfemedia.com

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Sister act: Building on their father's legacy, a new generation moves Bales Metal Surface Solutions forward; Meet the 2015 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design
Designing positive-energy buildings; Ensuring power quality; Complying with NFPA 110; Minimizing arc flash hazards
Building high availability into industrial computers; Of key metrics and myth busting; The truth about five common VFD myths

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.