Encapsulating Complexity — Namur Main Session Sets Course
This question is also about how the flow of information can be improved. Background: All essential information was documented in the form of drawings, process flow diagrams and piping & instrumentation flow diagrams as well as specification sheets for plant components and equipment. Later this was converted into data models to save them in the CAE and IT systems.
However, this is precisely where a huge gap opens up, especially when working across manufacturers. One of the main goals of digitization/industry 4.0 is the consistency, transparency and efficiency of all business processes. “In order to integrate process steps across all trades, it is necessary to develop a neutral, cross-disciplinary, manufacturer-independent data model,” explained Otten, who presented the Dexpi (Data Exchange in Process Industry) initiative in his presentation. This makes it possible to convert information from a piping & instrumentation flowchart into a data model like this. The decisive point: The model is based on common standards (e.g. ISO 10628, IC6242, IEC 61987) and relevant Namur recommendations (NE100, NE159 and NE 150). So there is no need to develop a new standard.
At Evonik, the model is currently being implemented in the target architecture of the simulation and CAE systems, enabling end-to-end data management from process development to technical plant operation. In addition to engineering, the model will serve as the base for the digital twin of the plant. “This reduces the implementation effort of the systems and opens up the possibility of virtualizing functionalities that were previously realized in separate systems, such as process information systems, on platforms,” concludes Otten.
Connectivity — The Foundation for Digitization
Traditionally, the automation pyramid is the model and architecture for the automation of chemical plants. In the current scenario of ever faster growing data availability requirements, however, the strict architecture is not flexible enough to integrate new sensors. “We have to get out of the grey and secure world into the pink cyber world,” said Martin Schwibach of BASF. After all, industry 4.0 applications depend on the collection and analysis of new data. This requires providing better connectivity without compromising security.
However, IT security will be the key issue in the future. “We have 390,000 new malware threats every day. And this despite the fact that we don't even live in a digitized world,” said Arne Schönbohm, President of the BSI, on the sidelines of this year's Namur main meeting, explaining the urgency. Overall, it can be stated that a new attack quality raises the threat situation to a new level and requires flexible countermeasures. For this reason, the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has now become a member of Namur and, conversely, Namur is joining the Alliance for Cyber Security.
Participants of the Alliance for Cyber Security benefit from the expertise of the BSI and receive, among other things, instructions and solutions for acute danger situations. For example, a sample security concept was developed as a template to provide basic IT protection in chemical plants. All in all, however, such specifications can only serve as signposts. According to Schönböhm, the process industry is not badly positioned, and the existing safety concepts in particular already provide a good basis for protection against cyber attacks. In the future, it will be important to work even more closely together and exchange experiences, also across industries.
In addition to IT security, it is also important to master the sheer volume of data. For comparison: “The digital footprint of a human being is 45 gigabytes per year. Only one of our systems produces ten terabytes of data per year,” Schwibach said. “To master this complexity, we need rules and structures.” Connectivity is too often underestimated. “We have to take care of topologies, performance, access/ID management, firewalls, etc.,” warns Schwibach. In the future, availability and latency, transfer rates, subscriber density, etc. will determine the success of a use case. Only then will applications such as the use of robots, drones or high-speed camera recordings in the context of predictive maintenance become part of everyday life.
Schwibach sees a further success factor in the flexibility in connecting the field devices to the IT infrastructure, data connectivity and device management. The expert is well aware that there will be no solution for all applications here either. Here, too, the 'how' can still be discussed, but not the 'whether' anymore, as the concluding remark went: “If data is the petroleum of the 21st century, then connectivity is the filling station.”
Digitalization Is Picking Up Speed
Conclusion: Even though many digitization projects in the process industry have so far only been put into practice selectively, the pace has clearly increased or as the new Namur Chairman Dr. Felix Hanisch describes it: “Digitization in the process industry becomes tangible and no longer exists only as a Power Point slide.” He continues to see Namur as the creator of digital transformation and urged users to dare more digitization, for example by applying product prototypes of MTP and NOA.
Perhaps the users will already report on the first successes at the next Namur main meeting in the next year. This will take place on 7 and 8 November 2019 in Bad Neuenahr under the motto “Enhanced connectivity for smart production.”
Sponsor of the next Namur main meeting 2019 will be Phoenix Contact.
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