Security’s role in manufacturing automation

Advances in technologies can lead to great things for the manufacturing automation sector, but security has to play a key role as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0 become more important.

By Gregory Hale, ISSSource June 2, 2018

Advances in technologies can lead to great things for the manufacturing automation sector, but everyone has to keep in mind security has to play a key role.

"With new technologies and new advancements, we can see unintended consequences," said Eddie Habibi, chief executive and founder of PAS Global during his keynote address at the PAS 2018 Optics conference in Houston. "This is no different than working in a process plant where there are unintended consequences."

The catch is users need to have a plan and be able to work through the plan to avoid any unintended consequences. "We need to think ahead and think about things," Habibi said. "The human element is the weakest link."

He said sometimes advances in technology can make humans weak because it can take over the thinking process and a sense of complacency can set in. That is something users will have to get over as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industrie 4.0 is moving forward. Habibi said Industrie 4.0 needs four things:

  • Sensors
  • Communications
  • Ubiquitous connections everywhere
  • Intelligence.

The technological move forward has quite a bit to offer manufacturers, but the awareness of what a user has out on the plant floor and what you can learn from it is an important factor in the digital age.

Courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE Media"There is an opportunity to digitize all pieces of equipment, employees and devices," Habibi said. "If a device is not digitized and it is out in the plant, you don’t have visibility and it does not exist."

Digital plants are coming, but there are risks, said Mark Carrigan, PAS Global chief operating officer during his part of the keynote. It is all about data integrity.

"Increased connectivity means more cyber risk," Carrigan said. "We have to manage that. We are leveraging technology we have built to create a consolidated view of everything. There is a digital dashboard for cyber, alarms, operational risk, production performance. We are taking all technology we have developed to give a holistic view of safety and security."

Gregory Hale is the editor and founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (, a news and information Website covering safety and security issues in the manufacturing automation sector. This content originally appeared on ISSSource is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

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