Archive of Real World Engineering - MAVERICK Rethinking Automation

Understanding Machine Safety Analysis In The U.S. (Part 1)

Posted by Karl Schrader on December 11, 2012 @ 11:17 am

A few years ago, I was working with an internal integration group for a manufacturing company which had facilities in many domestic and international locations. One of the initiatives I had undertaken was to redevelop procedures for assessing safety hazards on automated equipment. Safety_WorkPlace_MachineWith the planned adoption of the International Standards Organization document ISO:13849-1:2006, the older EN-954 standard was slated for retraction by the European Standards Organization. Anticipating this retraction, we needed to take another look at our own risk analysis and mitigation procedures in order to maintain complia...

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Conflict in the Workplace: What to do When Two Worlds Collide

Posted by Bruce Brandt on November 6, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  Recently I attended a session with a panel of security experts who were discussing process control system security. There were quite a number of surprising revelations from this gathering including the need to ensure that your facility’s control system isn’t found by a search engine called Shodan. It may sound like the villain of some cyberpunk novels, but can be a real threat to the security of your control system. I’d never heard of Shodan, so I was more than a bit taken aback that something like this existed and was regularly being used by hackers to attack industrial control systems. Hearing that the number of systems that can be found using this search engine numbers in the thousands was even more of a shock....

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Overcoming Network Obfuscation

Posted by Karl Schrader on October 30, 2012 @ 10:20 am

Within the field of manufacturing automation, we face hurdles unique to the ways industrial control systems communicate. This often leads to piecemeal approaches to communication architecture development and installation. With a careful approach, legacy communication systems can be converted to higher performing systems, capable of providing connectivity without sacrificing security. With the ever growing need for real-time data related to manufacturing, two of the largest concerns are accessibility and security. While these two requirements, at first glance, appear to be at odds with each other, cues can be taken from existing IT technologies which can lead to successfu...

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The Danger Of What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know

Posted by Bruce Brandt on September 4, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

Engineering disciplines, just like may other disciplines, have become very narrowly focused. At some level this is a necessary trend, since to be expert in every aspect of a field has become something that is almost impossible to accomplish. Very few mechanical engineers are experts in metallurgy, hydraulics, machine design, HVAC design, thermodynamics, mechanics of materials, strength of materials, metal cutting operations, metal forming operations, and, well, the list goes on. An engineering student attempting to delve deeply enough in every aspect of his or her chosen discipline to be an “expert” would never finish college. What's more, most colleges don’t even ...

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Making Equipment Smarter, Shouldn’t Make People Dumber

Posted by Bruce Brandt on July 11, 2012 @ 8:17 am

As I walked into the control room the first thing I heard was, “Why can’t I commission this transmitter?” The technician was pointing to the screen where he was trying to commission some Foundation fieldbus transmitters that had been taken out for service. At least this time he’d remembered to decommission them first. “I don’t know, let me take a look,” I responded as I started sizing up the situation. The first thing I noticed was that the three transmitters were appearing and disappearing from the utility.  That’s never a good sign. “Have you checked the voltage on the segment?” I asked. Of course the answer was no, so I directed him to go to the rack room and check it. Maverick-Tech... <p><a class=Continue ReadingLeave a Comment

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