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Safety Platform Functional Safety from the Core to the Edge

| Editor: Anke Geipel-Kern

At this year’s ARC Industry Forum Hima Group has presented recent developments and enhancements to the Smart Safety Platform (SSP). This comprehensive functional safety platform provides plant operators with maximum cybersecurity to ensure that safety automation and critical assets are always protected.

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The Hima Smart Safety Platform provides plant operators with maximum security to ensure that safety automation and critical assets are always protected.
The Hima Smart Safety Platform provides plant operators with maximum security to ensure that safety automation and critical assets are always protected.
(Source: Hima )

“Continually evolving, the Hima Smart Safety Platform is the world’s first scalable safety platform with built-in cybersecurity,” says Dr. Alexander Horch, VP R&D and Product Management at Hima.

Dr. Alexander Horch, VP R&D and Product Management at Hima.
Dr. Alexander Horch, VP R&D and Product Management at Hima.
(Source: Hima )

“The four cornerstones of the SSP, consisting of hardware, engineering software, firmware and safe communication, are perfectly interwoven, enabling plant operators to reduce the complexity of their safety systems and stay protected against the ever-increasing risks of accidental and nefarious access.”

Safety and Security Coming Together

The platform supports legacy products and will continue to do so in the long-term future. At the same time, in the course of digitization, the topics of safety and security continue to converge whereby functional safety and cybersecurity can no longer be separated.

An important component of the new platform concept is the market launch of two new safety systems. The Hiquad X is a new generation of the Hiquad safety system, which has been protecting thousands of applications around the world for more than 30 years. It enables plant operators to bring their well-proven systems up-to-date in terms of functional safety and cybersecurity.

HIQuad X is an important cornerstone of the new platform concept. The safety system reaches a new performance dimension with enhanced calculation capabilities and reduced system cycle and reaction times. A higher degree of diagnostic functions and faster error tracking offer further time saving advantages
HIQuad X is an important cornerstone of the new platform concept. The safety system reaches a new performance dimension with enhanced calculation capabilities and reduced system cycle and reaction times. A higher degree of diagnostic functions and faster error tracking offer further time saving advantages
(Source: Hima )

Compared to the first generation Hiquad safety controller, the Hiquad X reaches a new performance dimension with enhanced calculation capabilities and reduced system cycle and reaction times. A higher degree of diagnostic functions and faster error tracking offer further time saving advantages. The flexible system architecture allows connection to any Basic Process Control System (BPCS). In addition, as the unchanged I/O level, including the complete field wiring, remains in place, plant operators using Hiquad systems already, can simply modernize existing systems to Hiquad X.

Modernization of Security Platforms

Furthermore, Hima provides an individual modernization service that is supported by an automated logic conversion of the application program to the engineering tool Silworx. This reduces considerable effort and downtime often associated with modernization of safety installations.

Secondly, extending the concept of the Smart Safety Platform directly into the field, the Hijunction Box enables plant operators to implement extremely flexible decentralized control and safety solutions. A wide range of I/O modules enables fast system expansions during plant operation.

Hijunction Box integrates seamlessly into the Smart Safety Platform and helps expand existing Hima safety automation systems.

Depending on the complexity of the application, the pre-configured Hijunction Box is based on Himatrix or Himax safety controllers. Modular I/O integration allows a wide variety of functions to be implemented, from Hart protocol and monitoring via high-current outputs to line monitoring and heat dissipation protection. To speed up commissioning, FAT and SAT can be carried out in parallel. The ‘control in the field’ function allows the plant operator to carry out high-performance control tasks remotely. The robust box is certified for use in hazardous Atex Zone 2 environments and in extended temperature ranges. If the Hijunction Box loses connection to the central control system, it can also function autonomously, maximizing plant uptime safely.

Life Cycle Management becomes a Challenge

“One of the greatest challenges, when designing systems, is coping with different component lifecycles, be it for IT, process automation or safety systems,” says Dr. Horch. “These must be reconciled in such a way that changes to one component do not adversely affect the functionality of the other systems. In order to prevent modifications within plant security, which undergoes frequent updates, influencing the lifecycle of the functional safety system, both areas must be separate.”

As the Smart Safety Platform implements this protective separation and takes into account different component lifecycles, it offers a future-proof solution to the process industry that is both safe and secure, regardless of the complexity and size of the system. This reduces operating costs and increases productivity, while protecting the plant against the growing risk of cybersecurity attacks.

Does Encryption Lower SIL-Level?

“In order to secure networks, encryption will be increasingly required,” adds Dr. Horch. “However, when data is encrypted and decrypted, the underlying safety mechanisms must be extremely well-designed to maintain their SIL-capability.”

Good encryption is characterized by efficient diffusion. That means that on average the change in one message bit has an influence on 50 percent of the other message bits. The same is true during decryption if an encrypted bit is flipped during the secured communication.

It is therefore inevitable that the safety mechanism is able to detect cases where up to 50 percent of the message is faulty. It thus needs to be able to handle Bit Error Probabilities (BEP) up to 50 percent, which is the theoretical worst case. The IEC 61784-3 demands detection of BEP <1%. However, even if the safe communication protocol handles BEP <1% it will not necessarily be able to reach SIL 3 level when the communication channel uses encryption. To reach SIL 3 over an encrypted channel requires handling of BEP = 50 percent.

The German IEC committee introduced these boundary conditions in Edition 4 of IEC 61784-3, which is currently under development. Hima’s Safe Ethernet safety protocol, which is an important part of its Smart Safety Platform, has met these stricter requirements for many years. In addition to encrypted communication, Safe Ethernet provides numerous other safety mechanisms that outperform most others on the market.

How Customers Benefit from Cutting Edge Technologies

Bringing the best of breeds in Safety and Security together, Hima’s strategic partnership with the German federal security specialist Genua will enable customers from the process and rail industries to benefit from cutting edge technologies that meet the most stringent safety and security standards.

The partnership focuses on the secure connection of mobile workers, encrypted communication via the internet, interface control and internal network segmentation with firewalls, as well as the networking of highly critical systems and ‘data diodes’.

For example, the genubox enables highly-secure remote maintenance access to machines and systems located virtually anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

“Security is an integral part of Hima services and engineering,” concludes Dr. Horch. “In addition to cyber-secure hardware and engineering software, plant operators can rely on Hima to provide security awareness training, basic security checks of Hima safety systems, product security training and security lifecycle services, wherever they may be located.”

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