How to remain safe and profitable during Industry 4.0

What will be the key challenges for Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) that are to be designed and operated as per the Smart Factory concept?

Industry 4.0 Framework

Industry 4.0 aims to facilitate the interaction between humans and technology by providing information at all industrial plant levels e.g. persons and/or tools that can access process sensors or final element information (such as measured value, or configuration settings, etc.).

The proposed framework assumes that cyber-physical systems communicate with one another in real time and create the ‘Internet of Things’. The Smart Factory framework identifies with the concept that all devices are interconnected wirelessly. In this scenario, there is no centralized control system as in Industry 3 plant we have developed and operate as today. The Smart Factory SIS of the future will be known as the ‘Cyber Physical System’.

The supporters of the Industry 4.0 concept expect that the inherent optimisation features will increase profitability and to increase production flexibility which can be used to rapidly adapt the business operational model to market changes.

As we all recognize, process plants are hazardous in nature as they process a multitude of flammable, explosive or toxic materials and so the consequences of cyber attack can result in the potential for multiple fatalities or environmental disaster.  So what will be the key challenges for Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) that are to be designed and operated as per the Smart Factory concept?

Impact on safety devices

The underlying principle of Industry 4.0 is that all systems including those devices that utilise IP addresses are connecting to the globally accessible Internet infrastructure directly or via wireless. It is therefore a key imperative that the Industry 4.0 plant system environment is verified as being cyber secure.

By its very nature, the use of wireless communication in control systems is open to natural environmental, as well as human influences. It includes lightning, adverse weather, solar magnetic storms, solar plasma ejection, and obstacles such as buildings or plant equipment. Human influences can come from other wireless devices and from the increased wireless infrastructure via hackers and terrorists.

Downloading from the Cloud the required data for plant system operation, available software patches onto the systems, malware scanners and antivirus programs requires such plant systems to access ‘big data’ in cyberspace which may influence the stability of the plant process.

Any ‘real time’ communication will need to be fast enough to facilitate industrial process automation requirements. Currently the available safety fieldbuses which would form the core of the Industry 4.0 environment are too slow to be used for every process safety application.

Increased software versions and shortened device life time will prevent the User from obtaining good “prior use” or “proven in use” evidence for a device to be used in a safety application.

The devices and systems in the smart factory will have increased software complexity. Powerful new software Tools will be the enablers for much of this advancement. As our software dependency increases, our incentive for higher levels of software reliability becomes greater. Ultimately, “Human Factors” may be the weakest link of Industry 4.0 for safety related systems.

Industry 4.0 promotes device & system modularisation. Future factory operations will consist of modules that may be connected like ‘bricks’ within the automation foundation. The modularisation concept may be in conflict with the required ‘performance’ based approach for the design and development of a safety system.

The design, including the creation of cyber-physical systems where the field devices are programmable, are connected to the Internet, are also modularized (different device parts, from different providers) and feature wireless connectivity as a default configuration, place a great emphasis on the competency of the designer, software developer, operators and maintenance personnel across the entire safety lifecycle. It is envisaged that operation and maintenance of Industry 4.0 systems will require much more in-depth support by vendors, manufacturers and third parties because operators will not be able to carry out all operations (as the automation complexity increases to expert level diagnostic capabilities) and supporting system maintenance activities by themselves.

How to handle the problem?

Currently there are no standards that can provide a framework for an Industry 4.0 safety system. In order to switch to the Industry 4.0 concept for SIS, stakeholders and investors will be required to place an ever greater emphasis on personnel competencies and focus on functional safety management linked with cyber security management. As further integration of the control, safety and business systems environment occurs, End Users will need to partner with leading manufacturers and service organisations to develop intelligent engineering, intelligent infrastructure, collaborative technical support centres and encourage the necessary development of the increases in supply chain safety related competency assurance.

So, are you already placing greater emphasis on developing your safety lifecycle management approach & organisational systematic capabilities for merging the requirements of IEC 61511 and IEC 62443 to prepare for Industry 4.0? ABB can help you integrate these systems to make your operations profitable and safe in this new marketplace.

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About the author

Rafal Selega

I have over 21 years of professional engineering experience with both BPCS and SIS systems. I am a Functional Safety Consultant in the ABB Functional Safety Management Technical Authority (FSM TA), I possesses in-depth competency and technical application for all aspects of safety instrumented systems according to IEC 61511 and IEC 61508. Before joining I worked for the Luigi EPC group as an automation specialist and held the company FSM Expert role within the Air Liquid Group Europe for the compliance and assessment of proposed safety devices, SIF architecture selection and technical procedures to be applied for SIL determination, verification and functional safety lifecycle management of SIS. I am also a member of the IEC 65A-IEC 61511 Ed 2 Standards Maintenance Committee, a member of the KT50 PKN-Polish National Standardization Committee and is an Exida certificated Functional Safety Professional.
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