Kepware and the oil and gas ‘ATM’

White paper pinpoints five challenges to industrial control systems.

A 25 page white paper from Kepware Technologies’ president and co-owner, Tony Paine titled, ‘More data, more sources, more problems’ discusses control system data access with reference to oil and gas. Paine identifies five challenges to plant and process automation—interoperability, functionality, reliability, scalability and safety. Modern facilities deploy multiple programmable logic controllers, distributed control systems, flow computers and other data sources in a heterogeneous environment.

Problems accessing data across disparate devices can result in a lack of information-based decision-making. The search for functionality makes for the deployment of multiple solution providers and communications protocols. Scalability may be overlooked as operators seek to solve their immediate communications issues. For Paine, custody transfer is the industry’s ‘cash register’ and, like the ATM in banking, requires secure, high reliability, redundant systems to avoid costly downtime.

The white paper offers a useful ‘Bluffer’s Guide’ to industrial control systems where a plethora of computing and other hardware may be deployed. Although systems should be able to communicate via a universal standard like OPC*, in reality ‘this may not be practical.’ The answer is a communications gateway (read KepServer), an abstraction layer between OPC and the multitude of device-specific protocols.

* Open Connectivity standard for automation.

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