Industrial Controls

Improving the security, performance and flexibility of your plant control system can have a direct impact on your profitability.  If you could maintain your existing investment in Rockwell (Allen-Bradley) and Schneider (Modbus) compatible PLCs and operator interfaces, and add secure mobile (iPad/iPhone) and remote (web based) operator interfaces for monitoring and control, how much more powerful and valuable could your control system become?

We have decades of experience in secure PLC communications, and have developed powerful PLC communications and real-time user interface software developed by our industry-leading team of developers.

We can deploy solutions for you in weeks rather than months and are capable of providing a full-stack solution, from PLC and sensor wiring all the way to your mobile device.

Robust Control Systems

Traditionally, control systems for industrial systems have depended on "backups"; a primary system is used, and when it fails, a backup systems is employed.  In the more advanced embodiments of this strategy, the switchover is automatic and transparent -- the operator doesn't realize the failure has occurred, and is simply informed (if necessary) of the switch.

Byzantine Failures

The most damaging types of failures affect all available systems.  If a system is exploited by an adversary, for example, it is often the case that the same exploit can allow the adversary to own all the systems, including any backups.  The ideal adversary will then exploit the system (without informing you, of course) to accomplish his nefarious goals; destruction of property (see: Stuxnet), industrial espionage, etc.

There have been spectacularly exciting breakthroughs recently that allow us to build systems that are robust against even these kinds of Byzantine failures; fully exploited system nodes where the attacker is capable of taking over the exploited nodes and using them to collude in accomplishing his goals.  There have simply been no option available to you as an automation and control system owner which would allow you to acquire a system which can detect and reject such attacks -- until now.  We have been tracking the research in this area for over 20 years, and are capable of applying these advanced techniques to your controls challenges.

Industrial Communications

Satellites

Robust monitoring and control of remote facilities and mobile equipment is important to many organizations.  In fact, the ability to monitor the performance of remote processes is becoming a determining factor in achieving safety and financial performance goals.

Now that IP (Internet Protocol) communications are readily available virtually everywhere, how can your organization apply Cellular, Fixed wireless, Satellite and Terrestrial wide-area networks to maximize your competitive advantage?  You can be assured that your competitors are aggressively pursuing improved communications -- are there technologies available that might allow your organization to outperform the "industry standard", average company?

Error & Loss Encoding

Most field communications are based on technology developed for point-to-point voice telecommunications.  Beginning with existing audio modems and "serial" communications links, most organizations simply ported their old communications strategies onto the Internet IP network.  This has led to solutions that use only the most basic capabilities of the IP network -- and actually add additional risks, which are often only encountered at the worst possible moment: in communications "upset" conditions such as an Internet disruption or cyber-attack, or during an actual equipment malfunction when unusually large amounts of field data are generated.

Instead of improved communications, what is experienced is:

  • Intermittent (or complete loss of) control or monitoring.
  • Delayed control signals, causing operator actions to occur many seconds -- or even minutes -- late.
  • Manual operator intervention to initiate "backup" communications, often failing to recover communications.

Using techniques originally developed for deep-space probes, and loss and error encoding algorithms only now being deployed beyond military and advanced R&D facilities, your organization can obtain the following benefits:

  • Use every available communications channel simultaneously to achieve massive thruput and reduced latency.
  • Retain strict control ordering and timeliness guarantees (just like the old serial communications channels), even over modern best-effort and non-guaranteed IP networks.
  • Automate communications fail-over completely, by using algorithms that are mathematically guaranteed to only reduce communications risk when applied -- unlike most industry standard communications fail-over strategies.
  • Allow your operational staff to focus on the state of your remote facilites during upset conditions, rather than losing concentration by tending to communication related issues.

Low Cost, Powerful Wireless LANs

Very recently, the price/performance ratio of radio IP network gear has improved dramatically.  Field IP communications gear that cost $10,000 only a couple of years ago can now be replaced (and even exceeded) in capability by tough and reliable gear costing mere hundreds of dollars!  Has your organization taken advantages of a 2 order-of-magnitude reduction in cost and increase in performance, in your field network strategy?

This is not a small change!  Imagine if every remote facility was wired for secure, high-speed LAN communications.  Even facilities spread over many kilometers -- across rivers, over forests and mines -- can be quickly and reliably covered with a robust blanket of high-speed, securely encrypted communications.  Your operations staff can easily access remote equipment -- possibly allowing you to re-deploy your current, existing staff to new tackle new projects.

Visualization

Your organization's data is only useful when it is readily available, when -- and where -- it is needed.  Have you accepted the present state of industrial visualization tools as the best that you can achieve?  Expensive, unreliable and clumsy PCs are not often the ideal choice for monitoring and controlling your facility.  Why not use the powerful, portable and reliable mobile devices (that your operators probably already own!), equipped with modern HTML5, Javascript and CSS visualization engines instead?

By empowering your operations and maintenance personnel with secure and reliable access to the monitoring and control capabilities they need, whenever and wherever they they need it, your organization can gain multiple competitive advantages:

  • Greater flexibility and convenience, both for the operator and for your company.
  • Higher workplace satisfaction, and improved work/life balance.
  • Ability to bring senior operators on-line immediately in crisis situations, potentially averting huge financial losses, or even saving lives.
  • Reduced cost and complexity, by eliminating many of the failure prone PCs from your control facilities.