ARC Forum Wrap Up: Finding the Balance Between Connectivity and Security

March 102017
ARC Forum Wrap Up: Finding the Balance Between Connectivity and Security

By Cory Fogg, Content Editor, Automation.com

How does the automation industry find that balance between connectivity and security? That was a question debated by many speakers, vendors and attendees of ARC Forum in Orlando. The February 6-9 event provided an atmosphere buzzing over the potential that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and connected technology are bringing to today’s industry, in what many long-time attendees considered one of the biggest ARC shows yet. From intense discussions on adequate cybersecurity, to imagining a tangible future of 3D-printed vehicles, to witnessing the countless digital innovations from vendors across the industry, the ARC Forum was alive with excitement over the future.

The Automation.com team was at ARC Forum in force, talking with many of the attendees and industry leaders. Here are some of the particular stories, releases, and discussions that particularly struck us over the course of the fun Florida event.

1. Cybersecurity, cybersecurity, CYBERSECURITY

From Monday’s product releases and Tuesday’s keynote on, it was clear that securing IIoT technology was at the forefront of the entire event. Tuesday’s speaker was Marty Edwards, the Director of Industrial Control Systems, Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) at the US Department of Homeland Security. He discussed how, despite all the advances in technology and security vulnerabilities, many companies are still failing to do their due diligence in securing their facilities, and leaving themselves vulnerable. Edwards further emphasized that if a determined nation state wanted to attack, there are few things a company could do to stop that, however he left one piece of advice for any company. “In your facility, find the most critical of functions [to your business],“ Edwards advised, “And when you find that function, take it offline.” His concerns appeared to be shared throughout the show, as companies like Honeywell, Wind River, Claroty and many more introduced their latest efforts in cybersecurity products at ARC. 

2. No Hide-and-Seeq Necessary. Seeq was Everywhere

If there was one company that was seemingly all over ARC, it was Seeq. Throughout the show, in addition to participation in several roundtables and workshops, the process analytics provider announced separate collaborations with major names in the industry, Honeywell, Inductive Automation and Schneider Electric. These collaborations included:

  • Joining of Honeywell’s Connected Plant Initiative, which uses the power of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to help improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of operations across a single plant or several plants across an enterprise. “This collaboration between Seeq and Honeywell should make it easier for both firms to help their mutual customers gain new and valuable insights from their data,” said Janice Abel, Principal Consultant, ARC Advisory Group.
  •  
  • Helped deliver connectivity to Inductive Automation’s Ignition SCADA system. This Seeq connector is designed to enable Inductive Automation customers to use Seeq Workbench to find insights in their data leading to better production outcomes. “The innovative approach Inductive Automation has taken in building modern industrial software is impressive, and it’s exciting to be a part of their ecosystem of partners," said Seeq CEO Steve Sliva
  •  
  • Partnered with Schneider Electric to release the EcoStruxure Plant Advisor. Profit Advisor layers real-time accounting models onto the Seeq Workbench to become a scalable solution for multiple segments, enabling customers to both measure and control their profitability. 

An example of what a Seeq dashboard populated with Ignition SCADA data would look like. Seeq was involved in several big product releases from multiple organizations during ARC Forum. (Photo courtesy of Seeq)

3. Disruption on the Horizon for Automotive Industry?

If anyone says they can tell you the future of the automotive industry, they may not have been in attendance at ARC Forum. Everyone, it seemed, had their own theory, and the advances in automation and manufacturing technology have made for some very interesting, tangible options for our future driving. David Woessner, of Local Motors, took the stage on Wednesday morning, and spoke of the present-day capabilities to 3D print working vehicles, and postulated a future where consumers can custom-design and print their own vehicles at their local manufacturer. Still others debated whether or not we’d see cost-effective self-driving vehicles before or later than 2020. The fact of the matter is, the automotive industry is in line for a very dynamic future given the advances in robotics and automation.

3D Printing cars with just 50 components or less? Local Motors' David Woessner spoke, during ARC Forum, of a future where consumers might design and print their own cars at local manufacturers. (Photo Courtesy of Local Motors)

4. Inductive Automation is Living on the Edge

On Monday at ARC Forum, Inductive Automation announced the upcoming March 28 release of their latest product line, Ignition Edge. We saw big releases from Schneider Electric (EcoStruxure Plant Advisor), Yokogawa (KBC Co-Pilot), Bedrock Automation (Cybershield 2.0) and many more, but it was Ignition Edge that seemed to always come up in IIoT-related conversation. The excitement of Inductive’s Chief Strategy Officer Don Pearson, regarding the Ignition Edge line, was quite palpable as he discussed the line’s potential to enable organizations to “catch data near the source, at the edge of the network” so as to significantly boost industrial efficiency. Pearson acknowledged that some of the IIoT luster had dulled as the industry hadn’t yet found the superior value that IIoT was supposed to bring, but was also firm in his conviction that Ignition Edge is one of the first product lines to truly leverage the technological advancements in such a way that would produce tangible value benefits for industrial organizations.

5. Exxon Mobil Continues to Lead the Charge for Open Process Automation Standards

As we have covered extensively, here on Automation.com, the quest for Open Process Automation standards drives on, and it continued at ARC Forum as well. Wednesday’s keynote speaker was ExxonMobil’s Don Bartusiak, who took the stage promoting the Open Process Automation Forum, and it’s vision of a cooperative, mutually-beneficial and standards-based future. Bartusiak emphasized that this was both an efficiency issue and a security issue, as technology is rendering currently-installed DCS systems as increasingly obsolete. “Our goal is a standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable system,” said Bartusiak, “We need security that is built into the system and not bolted on.  And we’d like to see commercial systems by 2021.” 

ARC Forum: An Exciting Future of Industrial Possibilities

One of the first major industry events of 2017, ARC Forum was a shining example of how bright the manufacturing and process control future is. Nearly every company was showing off a brand new sensor, security software, or system leveraging digital technology and the Industrial Internet of Things. Colleagues from across the industry were engaged in lively discussion throughout the event, throwing around exciting new theories, and hypothesizing on what future technology will bring, with all participants keeping a keen eye out for new ways to innovate and disrupt. Yet, as Wind River’s CTO Gareth Noyes points out, there is one question that continues to drive this disruption into the future, “How can we lower the cost of innovation?’ With 2016 (and with it the 2017 ARC Forum)  now in the books, and all the excitement surrounding the potential of IIoT, one can only imagine what innovations 2018’s ARC Forum will bring. 

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