The thin line between IT and OT

The thin line between IT and OT

by 5. May 2017

Mission Critical Systems

IT and OT systems in many industries are being categorized as mission critical systems based on their application which failing would in turn cause catastrophic consequences (damage to property, financial losses, loss of life etc.). What is Mission Critical for production in process industry? What has changed with the increase of IT solutions in process industries and how critical are these systems?

Present market trends such as Digitalization of the industries, Vertical Integration of production systems has increased the necessity of multiple IT solutions in the process industry. From Business Intelligence tools, Custom reporting solutions to Optimization applications one can categorize many applications into this category. We are in need of a classification or definitions on how important are these systems for my production to evaluate and eliminate the risks these solutions may pose.

Why this increase in IT solutions?

Digitalization is one key reason for the increase of IT solutions in process industry. We are seeing the industries basic requirement of a Control System changing from not only reliability, availability, safety but also screen capture, operator assistance, analytics, optimization etc. Does this mean the traditional control system requirements are not any more important? NO, this is where we have thin line on the importance of the systems and applications is necessary. This segregation should provide a clear picture on the priorities for the customers in case  engineering, operation and maintenance. The traditional features of a control system should stay unaltered and should not pose any risk to production i.e. Mission Critical System. In Yokogawa’s Enterprise Automation Structure this can be clearly seen that IT and OT are two separate entities with OT includes a part of MES functionalities and classified as Mission Critical Systems or Plant Specific MES.

Yokogawa Enterprise Automation Structure

Yokogawa Enterprise Automation Structure

Industrie 4.0 vs. Mission Critical System

Modular production concept presented by NAMUR and ZVEI using MTP shows how Process Control System in the future will evolve into Process Co-ordination System or Process Orchestration System and also acknowledges the fact the production system’s necessity to include IT solutions relevant to production execution (MES) to be part of this Co-ordination System and it goes further to differentiate the MES functionalities as Production Execution Management in MTP1.0 and Production Operations Management in MTP2.0 as the future vision.

Modular production concept by NAMUR and ZVEI

Modular production concept by NAMUR and ZVEI

Similar classification can also be seen in NAMUR Open Architecture concept where Monitoring & Optimization part of the concept being divided into Plant Specific M+O and Central M+O. Another most important message here is traditional process control qualities such as availabilty, safety and reliabilty should stay unaltered.

Defining the thin line

Now where should a vendor start to cope with this transformation of process industries and to thrive as part of this transformation creating new values for the customer without sabotaging the existing values? My opinion is by defining this segregation taking the market initiatives such as Open group, NAMUR MTP and NAMUR Open Architecture into account. Where to draw this thin line and define which of these functionalities are critical for production? This might vary from one plant to another and the operating philosophy of the plant also decides which the highly critical systems are.

Identifying this segregation and providing such Mission Critical system should be seen as the future market requirement by OT system vendors such as ourselves. We acknowledge this as a requirement and are working towards continuously delivering highly reliable systems.

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