Process Automation and the IoT: Yokogawa’s VigilantPlant Approach to the Connected Industrial Enterprise

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By ARC Advisory Group

Keywords

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Operational Technology (OT), Information Technology (IT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Cisco Systems, Structured Data, Operational Excellence (OpX), Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), Big Data, Sushi Sensor, Main Automation Contractor (MAC) service

 

Summary

Connecting industrial devices, systems, and applications to provide plant and enterprise personnel with actionable information is not a new concept. Leading automation and software suppliers have been working diligently to address this requirement for decades. These efforts have not always been entirely successful, due in large part to poor interoperability between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT). This has hampered business performance.

Today, ARC Advisory Group is seeing a profound change in approach. Intelligent field devices, digital field networks, Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled connectivity and web services, historians, and advanced analytics software are providing the foundation for an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The cost of connectivity is dropping dramatically, providing powerful potential to connect people, assets, and information across the industrial enterprise. Now, rather than having to build, integrate, and support purpose-built industrial solutions, automation suppliers and end users alike can reach out and embrace a wide variety of lower cost, fully supported commercial technologies within their industrial connectivity solutions.

However, since in most industrial environments, production continuity safety, and both physical and cyber-security are paramount, extreme vigilance must be employed to ensure that the omnipresent connectivity and openness implied by the IIoT does not compromise any of the above or overwhelm users and/or applications with too much raw data.

Clearly, an industrial approach is required, one that enables manufacturers and other industrial organizations to enjoy the benefits of commercial, Internet-based technologies, but without the potential pitfalls that could include overwhelming people with irrelevant data and information, compromised data security, operational disruptions, and/or safety and environmental issues. Avoiding pitfalls such as these requires appropriate integration of both operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), with an emphasis on maintaining effective safety and security approaches and practices. ARC refers to this as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Executives from Yokogawa, a pioneer in both process automation and digital communications for field networks, recently briefed ARC on the company’s perspective on the IIoT. Clearly, Yokogawa’s industrial automation (IA) product and service offerings, industry domain knowledge, and their approach – which emphasizes safe, secure, and uninterrupted operations – provide a solid foundation for an Industrial Internet of Things that specifically addresses the requirements of process automation, particularly for the OT side of the equation.

To be able to provide an equally solid foundation for the IT side, Yokogawa has announced a number of strategic collaborations and will be partnering with Cisco Systems, a leading global IT, networking, and security supplier and a strong enabler of IoT technologies, processes, and concepts.

Yokogawa, Cisco, and other partners/collaborators are also working closely with end users across a variety of industries to identify specific requirements and develop appropriate IoT-enabled solutions. In many respects, this represents a departure from past practices that often displayed poor alignment between OT and IT suppliers and the end user community.

Yokogawa and Cisco have already worked together to deliver service content and solutions for a major global oil company. These solutions incorporate Yokogawa’s deep domain knowledge of OT and well-proven industrial automation solutions built on top of Cisco’s Secure Ops solution. The joint solution provides a secure ICS/SCADA platform incorporating best practices for information technology, security, and processes to support more effective operational decisions.

The two companies are working together to roll out similar solutions for clients across a variety of industry sectors. By partnering with Cisco, Yokogawa can leverage its own strengths in industrial automation and other OT technology and in industrial applications; while taking advantage of Cisco’s strengths in IT infrastructure (including embedded cyber security and remote/local connect/access capability), best practice processes, IoT applications, and IoT-enabled innovation.

Industrial Internet of Things IIoT Enables New Business Models
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Enables New Business Models
(Source: ARC Advisory Group)

IoT Integrates Operational Technology with the Enterprise
IoT Integrates Operational Technology with the Enterprise
(Source: Yokogawa)

 

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