The pursuit of efficiency and the avoidance of unplanned downtime have always been primary operational goals in industrial plants. There are a number of pressing market demands prompting plant operators to seek upgrades to their operational foundation. First and foremost, such upgrades are geared to deliver increased productivity. Modernizing IA also assures reliability of operations and better monitoring of processes. The flexibility and scalability that come with modern technologies are necessary to address changing customer needs and demands. Last but not least, multiple new technologies are entering the plant – from sensors to the industrial internet of things (IoT), from machine-to-matching communications to smart factories, from virtualization to even cloud adoption – and OT needs to move with the times in order to be interoperable with those technologies and future-ready. Plants now more than ever need to ensure uninterrupted, scalable and safe operations – or face business disruptions, revenue losses and reduced public and stakeholder trust.
The need for speed – to deliver faster, cheaper and better, is not some distant rumble applicable only to the fast-paced consumer space – according to LNS Research, ensuring consistent quality of products and responsiveness to customer order demands are among the top business objectives for manufacturing organizations and the industrial sector as a whole. As industrial organizations place further reliance on their operational technologies ensuring their continued operation becomes a must. To meet the mounting requirements for uninterrupted operations and prepare themselves for the connected future, industrial organizations now have new solutions to empower them to run faster, leaner and smarter – today and tomorrow.
Operation Technology is Getting Old and Is in Dire Need of an Overhaul
Many organizations now rely on automation systems that are reaching the end of their useful lives. The total global installed base of those systems adds up to $65 billion, according to ARC Advisory Group. Furthermore, the total installed base of automation systems that are more than 20 years old comes to $53 billion, according to ARC. As Craig Resnick, vice president at ARC, shared in a recent blog post, traditional systems are no longer sufficient for handling downtime and addressing the new operational realities.
The New Industrial World Order
From manufacturing plants to oil and gas companies to utilities, industrial organizations are implementing sensors and connected technologies allowing to operate better, faster, safer and cheaper. The Dusseldorf Water Authority needed an IT solution that would allow it to control its water infrastructure via a network of measuring devices with around 40,000 data points. One major requirement for the new IT infrastructure was to keep the SCADA control system up and running so that data could be securely collected and stored for legal, health and safety reasons. Additionally, the Water Authority required a solution that would improve Return on Assets (RoA), provide an extremely high level of availability across the entire IT environment and do so in an easy-to- manage, easy-to- administer manner. After careful evaluation, Dusseldorf’s management chose Stratus.
Now consider this: John Miri, chief administrative officer at the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), who spoke at the Cloud and DevOps World conference in London this year, expanded on how modern technology, and more specifically IIoT, is transforming industrial operations. “In the old days, we would have people with logbooks living near areas prone to flooding and they would come to us and say when they saw something out of the ordinary, but people don’t move as fast as the water does. What we found with IoT, and working on the premise that the speed of light is faster than the speed of water, we can use a larger number of dispersed IoT sensors to detect where flood waters are and keep people safer.”
Enter Modern Continuous Availability Solutions for Industrial Control Systems – with Simple Elegance
We have heard it before – the claim that since it works for the IT department, it should work on the OT side. Anyone with serious industrial chops will probably give such claim a good chuckle. For critical industrial control systems to provide the level of performance, reliability and scalability needed today, they require more than general-purpose IT solutions. Industrial availability solutions need to be robust, resilient and scalable – and they need to be simple to deploy and maintain. So consider the following key factors when choosing your continuous availability solutions – and trust in their simple elegance:
- Your availability solutions need to be software-driven so you can simply and easily control how your hardware operates.
- They need to be virtual in nature – gone are the days when your SCADA, HMI or Historian run on a separate server or even on a PC. Today you can make the server work for you – through the power of virtualization. Yes, you will need less resources to run these solutions, and fewer servers to buy – this is what industrial efficiency is all about.
- Your modern industrial solutions need to provide a single view of operations. If you had to toggle between screens to figure out what resources are available to address alerts and spikes in your SCADA, you won’t go far. You need a single point of control and “a single pane of glass” to give you the visibility into both physical and virtual servers. Not only would this empower you to run your operations more efficiently, it is critical in minimizing downtime. You can address problems before they occur and win the employee of the month badge.
To learn more on how advances in modern operational technology are reshaping plant operations for maximum efficiency and uninterrupted delivery, download the latest Stratus trend report: Accelerating Performance Improvements with Modernized Operational Technology in the Industrial Sector. To learn more how Stratus can enable your continuous ICS availability, visit www.stratus.com to select your industrial vertical.