Demographics shift to IT

Alan Lawless of Parsons Brinkerhoff kindly supplied us with his impressions from the EU SCADA conference along with this brief ‘state of the industry’ overview.

“There is an interesting demographic shift from previous SCADA conferences in that a majority of attendees used to hail from the electrical engineering community. At the IBC EU SCADA conference, a show of hands revealed that half of those present were from IT. As the industry moves from silo-like systems with relatively little interconnection, to ubiquitously connected, web-based data availability, the emerging problem is one of data ownership.

Gospel truth?

Today or in the near future it will be potentially possible for accountants to access flow data from a production asset. But what will such data mean? There is a danger that ‘data’ will be considered as ‘gospel truth’ and used inappropriately. The solution comes from new messaging systems which allow for data to be tagged with information about ownership and quality. In old SCADA and DCS systems data was sent as groups of binary bits whose meaning was only known to proprietary software and systems.

OLE for process control

Now information is tagged—using a variety of more or less proprietary formats (as yet there is no leading tag format although the OLE for Process Control (OPC) Foundation is making a claim for such). All this is coming to a head as affordable primary level devices get smarter and cheaper. The industry has to an extent been ‘caught on the hop’ and is now waiting for the next step beyond FieldBus.”.”

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