Your questions answered: Automation: Optimize next-level automation installations, 2024 and beyond

Optimizing automation installations now and in the future is critical, but there are many challenges. Additional answers from this live webcast are addressed here.

By Control Engineering February 26, 2024
Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology/Cincinnati Corporation

During this January 11, 2024, webcast, the presenters left questions unanswered. Watch “Automation: Optimize next-level automation installations, 2024 and beyond,” and read this Q&A. Webcast presenter Scott Richards, PE, PMP, Senior Project Manager, Turnkey and Automation for Polytron, answered additional questions not addressed during the webcast.

You have been asked to automate more in your facility. Where do you start? Are there bottlenecks that advanced sensors, logic devices, actuators, analytics and more visibility for better decisions could resolve? Do you need upgrades of existing systems or new systems? Don’t overlook the latest standards and regulatory requirements along the way. Award-winning automation system integrators will offer their best advice on next-level automation applications.

Question: How do you determine the appropriate level of detail when assessing the client’s needs and documenting business objectives?

Answer: Generally, more detail is better. We try to get more information than we need with this type of engagement; it is rare that a client has everything defined fully at the time of engagement.

Question: Can you provide an example of a situation where understanding and quantifying risks and vulnerabilities during the assessment phase significantly influenced the automation project’s success?

Answer: The most extreme example would be the times we have killed a project during the conceptual or definition phase because the financial payback was not good enough or the risks of the project made the client reconsider other options.

Question: Considering the growing increase in cyber-attacks against industrial control systems (ICS), what changes are you seeing to integrate cybersecurity as a basis of design in the overall automation installations and maintainability of systems?

Answer: At a high level, more clients are considering cybersecurity during the development of their overall architectures. In the past, we would submit a system architecture, and with perhaps a few comments from a client controls engineer, it would move forward. Now, more people from the client side are engaged in the review process. Some clients have developed minimum standards for any system developed on their behalf.

Question: What technical factor or limitations would separate the cybersecurity aspect of an upgrade from the other automation part?

Answer: Cybersecurity might be funded by another group, such as IT. If that is the case, there might be other stakeholders and/or project requirements for a portion of the project directly related to cybersecurity.