How Industrial Automations and controls can help you increase your efficiency ?
Industrial production has evolved over the years with each wave of technological innovation.
In the 18th century, the steam engine and mechanization were introduced during the industrial revolution to increase production capacity.
The 20th century saw a series of technological innovations that modernized factories. In the 1960s, programmable logic controllers were introduced, followed by increased use of computerized numerical control systems in the 1970s. The 1980s and 1990s saw the implementation of robotics, while the 1990s and 2000s saw the democratization of hardware and software.
Recently, the growing connectivity of industries, especially with the IT/OT convergence, has created an explosion in the amount of data to be managed. More advanced equipments require special operators and precise training, and to tackle the complexity of on-site operators, and remote experts.
To meet these many challenges, industries are looking to implement industrial controls and automation. Identified as one of the growth drivers of the industry 4.0 market by MarketsandMarkets , automation will help industries manage increasingly complex and costly plants. The advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies is driving this desire for industrial automation.
What is industrial automation and control ?
Industrial control and automation involves using technology and equipment to control and automate industrial processes. This equipment usually consists of sensors and actuators connected to a central control unit, such as a programmable logic controller (PLC) or a distributed control system (DCS).
Sensors measure various process parameters, such as temperature, pressure, flow, or level, and convert these into electrical signals. Actuators, on the other hand, control the process, for example, by opening or closing valves, starting or stopping motors, or adjusting temperature or pressure.
The central control unit receives signals from the sensors, processes the data, and sends commands to the actuators to regulate the process. Depending on the settings of the central control unit, these commands can be sent automatically to the actuators. In many cases, the control unit displays real-time data to human operators via a human-machine interface (HMI).
To monitor all this data, modern industrial control and automation systems often use software applications to manage the control and monitoring functions. These software applications can be customized to meet the specific requirements of the industrial process, and they usually provide advanced features such as data logging, alarm management, and trend analysis.
Types of Industrial Control and Automation Systems
There are several types of industrial control and automation systems, including:
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs):
PLCs are microprocessors used to control industrial processes. They receive input from various sensors and other devices and use this information to control the operation of machines and equipment. PLCs are often used in manufacturing processes, where they help control various variables such as temperature, pressure, and flow rates.
Distributed control systems (DCS):
DCS systems are used in large-scale industrial processes, such as chemical processing and oil refining. DCS systems consist of multiple controllers distributed throughout a facility, which work together to control different aspects of the process. DCS systems are designed to provide precise and accurate control over complex industrial processes.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems:
SCADA systems are used to monitor and control industrial processes from a central location. SCADA systems typically consist of a central computer system that receives data from various sensors and devices located throughout the industrial process. SCADA systems are used in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, energy production, and transportation.
Human-machine interface (HMI):
HMIs are used to provide operators with a graphical representation of industrial processes. HMIs typically consist of a computer system that displays real-time data from various sensors and devices. Operators can use this information to monitor and control the operation of machines and equipment.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT):
IIoT refers to the use of internet-connected devices in industrial processes. IIoT devices can include sensors, controllers, and other devices that can collect and transmit data to other devices or systems. IIoT devices can help improve the efficiency of industrial processes by providing real-time data that can be used to optimize operations.
Applications of Industrial Control and Automation Systems
Industrial control and automation systems find use across a wide range of industries :
Here are three detailed examples:
Building Industry :
These systems are widely used to optimize energy consumption, improve building performance, and increase occupant comfort. Some of the applications of industrial control and automation systems in the building industry include HVAC systems, elevators systems, security systems…
Pharmaceutical Industry :
The major uses of these systems are to improve production processes, increase efficiency and ensure product quality, particularly for tasks such as batch processing or for checking packaging quality.
Food Industry :
In the food industry, these systems are used for similar reasons as in the pharmaceutical industry: to control the quality of products, to ensure traceability and for inventory management purposes.
Water Industry :
In the water industry, industrial control and automation systems are used to monitor and control water treatment and distribution processes, ensuring that water is safe to drink and is delivered to customers efficiently.
Transport Industry :
These systems are used in various forms of transport, including aircraft, trains, and automobiles. They can improve safety, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
Manufacturing Industry :
These systems are commonly used to control the operation of machinery and equipment during manufacturing processes.
Chemical Industry :
Complex industrial processes are used to produce chemicals, plastics, and other products. Industrial control and automation systems monitor and control these processes, ensuring they operate safely and efficiently.
Industrial control and automation systems can be used for cell culture, fermentation processes, quality control, monitor and control cleaning and sterilization processes…
Benefits of industrial control and automation systems
Industrial control and automation systems offer many benefits, including :
Increased efficiency and reduced costs
Industrial control and automation systems can help improve the efficiency of industrial processes by reducing waste, optimising operations and minimising downtime.
Industrial automation can help improve safety by reducing the risk of accidents, ensuring that equipment operates within safe parameters, and providing real-time monitoring of various safety parameters.
Real-time monitoring and data analysis
These systems can provide real-time monitoring and data analysis, allowing operators to make informed decisions and optimise operations in real time.
Challenges of Implementing Industrial Control and Automation Systems
While industrial control and automation systems offer numerous benefits, they also pose certain challenges, including:
Complexity of integration with existing systems
These systems can be complex and require integration with existing systems and processes. In fact, hardware are notoriously difficult to update and maintain to the latest versions, leading to a high disparity in operating systems and software versions, leading to complex and custom integration.
Need for skilled personnel
Designing, implementing, and maintaining these systems requires skilled personnel. Finding personnel with the necessary skills can be challenging. Indeed, the employee must have as much field knowledge, operational knowledge but also some computer knowledge to be able to use the software installed on the machines These profiles are particularly rare, especially in sectors facing a shortage of skilled labor.
Industrial systems are vulnerable to cybersecurity threats such as hacking, malware and other attacks. Due to the mission-critical nature of many industrial processes, these systems can be particularly vulnerable to attack. These attacks can range from data theft to direct impact on critical operations and safety. As these attacks affects more systems, they are growing significantly, with a 87% increase in ransomware attacks on industrial systems according to the Dragos ICS/OT Cybersecurity Year in Review .
In fact, they allow hackers to increase the profitability and value of their operations.
High initial costs
Implementing these systems can be expensive, requiring significant investments in hardware, software, and personnel.
How Trout Software can help you faced this challenges ?
Expose logs from any asset in a few clicks
In order to automate operations , the implementation of industrial control automation requires connections with multiple systems to make the automation as powerful as possible.
Security Hub, a product developed by Trout Software, was created using the new Web Assembly programming language. This technology enables us to connect to any type of system or environment, monitor and control them without the need to ingest any data (Normalization on read).
In order to connect to your systems, you will just have to create connection points to your systems via the connectors developed by Security Hub.
You can also drag & drop data files and exploit these data in the tool as well.
Empower operators with an inclusive tool
Security Hub enables any team member to perform analysis and automation using our no-code platform. By leveraging playbooks, operators can run codified playbooks and get the full context of the system with just clicks and drag and drops
The tool also includes a search bar for searching by keywords or key values.
Integrators and OEMs can pre-build the playbooks and share their knowledge with operators, based on live machine signals. The operator can then apply the playbook and follow the instructions specified.
Playbooks can also be automated during installation through the Scheduler functionality to continuously monitor the system and alert the operators with the right playbooks based on specific events.
The connectivity of systems creates numerous cybersecurity risks, as it provides hackers with potential entry points. Trout Software allows the creation and automation of cybersecurity playbooks to monitor potential cyber attacks and indicate what steps operators need to take to mitigate risk.
Industrial automation is a key component of Industrie 4.0 evolution. The potential value unlocked by automation is clear, but faces adoption issue due to investment cost, talent challenges and overall speed of the business. Trout Software tackles some of these challenges by aiming to build the fastest solution to get visibility into assets, and empower operators.
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