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Emerson’s New DeltaV Edge Environment Propels Operational Performance By Maximizing Access to Secure, Contextualized Data

by , | Jan 8, 2024 | Control & Safety Systems

Jim Cahill

Jim Cahill

Chief Blogger, Social Marketing Leader

DeltaV Edge Environment podcastThere is no shortage of data in most manufacturing and production operations. The problem is that it is often scattered and not available to make the most informed decisions to run the process optimally.

I spoke with Emerson’s Zachary Sample about how the DeltaV™ Edge Environment enables greater use of operational data scattered across various systems and software applications to help you improve overall performance in safety, efficiency, reliability, and sustainability.

Give the podcast a listen, and check out the DeltaV Edge Environment section on Emerson.com for more information on how this approach can help advance your digital transformation initiatives.

Transcript

Jim: Hi everyone. This is Jim Cahill with another edition of the Emerson Automation Experts podcast. Digital transformation or digitalization is a strategic focus for most manufacturers in order to improve overall performance in safety, efficiency, reliability, and/or sustainability. Today, Zach Sample joins me to discuss ways to drive these digitalization efforts. Welcome, Zachary.

Zachary: Hey, Jim. Great to be here.

Jim: Well, it’s great having you here. Well, let’s get into it a little bit. So what global economic and industry trends are driving manufacturers to change the way they are operating?

Zachary: Yeah, one of the biggest things that we see is that the manufacturers are being pressured to be really doing more with less and that’s, they’re needing to increase safety, sustainability, and profitability while also dealing with diminishing workforce and skilled resources that are out there.

Fortunately, what we’re seeing is there are some emerging technologies that are helping to address those things and many manufacturers are using that as a cue and realizing that if they don’t make use of these technologies and take their first steps on their digitalization journey, if they haven’t already, that they’re going to be left behind.

Jim: That is a common thing you hear about. With all these retirements going on, all these baby boomers retiring, you just don’t have the same amount of people to solve things and thankfully, advances in technology are helping to cope with that a little bit. So what are some of the challenges manufacturers and producers are having when they have to drive digitalization?

Zachary: There are really two big ones that jump out to me. And the first one is the organizational readiness for digitalization. And that’s the organization is mature enough. It’s prepared for it. And in order to take that first step on that journey and that there’s organizational alignment in order to make that happen.

And that’s all about making sure there’s buy-in from the right stakeholders to making sure all of your workflows are accounted for because that’s where a lot of these initiatives can wind up. falling on their face. But, the other aspect is with this large explosion of OT data with technologies like APL, the biggest questions that we have is great, we have all this data, but how do I, how do I make it accessible? How do I make it usable?

And that ranges from how do I make it accessible safely and securely. Across my enterprise in a way that I can get access to the right people. There’s the part that is making sure that we are able to make that data usable because a lot of the data that is out there is not in a very easily consumable format and what we see is, hey, we’re wanting to spend less time figuring out how to get to manipulate the data, more time using the data where there is more value created, minimizing the amount of time spent doing that. And that’s because it can be a huge barrier to entry with the amount of effort that goes into collecting this data, manipulating that data, and making it usable.

Jim: That certainly sounds like a number of challenges to try to overcome. I heard cyber security concerns in there, just the fact that maybe today it’s scattered around different silos, that kind of thing, and then really being able to get it to the right people to be able to do something with it. So that’s a number of things that people have to overcome. So you mentioned usability and accessibility of data. So how is Emerson helping to address these particular challenges?

Zachary: So there’s a couple things that Emerson is doing, and the first thing is around data management specifically.

I mentioned that that was one of the big challenges, is being able to get access to and make that data usable, is in partnership with AspenTech, is the use of AspenTech Inmation, in order to be able to both handle non-timestamped or variety of different data types to be able to scale this data across our enterprise and be able to create a more simplified connectivity from our producers of that data up to our consumers of that data.

So that’s a big aspect that we’re doing with AspenTech Inmation. But the other aspect is just how are we publishing and streaming this data out from all of these different resources? DeltaV is already a big collector of data. But the DeltaV Edge environment is allowing us to provide secure read only access to this data.

It streams all of this data up into our enterprise network so that it can be used by different consumers. So whether that’s historical data, runtime data, alarming events data, configuration data, all of that information is published there and in context, so it reduces the amount of time our users have to spend getting that data and making it accessible.

Jim: That sounds like you’re letting the data out to get to where it’s needed, but with the security to make sure people aren’t getting into that. Can you tell me a little bit more about what the DeltaV Edge environment is and what it entails?

Zachary: Absolutely. So the DeltaV Edge environment, I like to think of as being made up of three main components. There’s our data provider component. That is what publishes our DeltaV data, all of these different DeltaV data types up into our edge node. There’s the edge node component, which is our data repository.

It’s where we store a one year data cache of all of our data for the system. And then there is our data egress options where we can use either REST API, which is a common way to query data or OPC UA, which is a common connector for most industrial software applications.

Jim: Okay, so how does the DeltaV Edge environment meet the cybersecurity standards that we have?

Zachary: Yeah, and that’s a really big one, and you called that out as one of the big things that I mentioned in the challenges is how do we make sure that whatever we’re delivering, continues to meet the cybersecurity standards that are out there.

What the DeltaV Edge environment offers is out of the box, it provides read only connection to this data. So it is encrypted point-to-point, meaning that it is secure. In practice, that means that you could publish that data from your controls network layer up to L3 or L4 on the network. We also offer a data diode for our users that are trying to meet the IEC 62443 standard for cybersecurity.

So we’re not skipping levels in our Purdue model. And we offer a data diode in order to be able to continue to meet those cybersecurity requirements as well.

Jim: Well, that sounds like a pretty secure data to get it out from the control system up and to where it may be needed. So how is this managed across the enterprise?

Zachary: So one of the biggest things is that the DeltaV Edge environment allows us to now get this data out from what is traditionally our controls network layer, our operational data layer, and stream this data up into our enterprise network. So we’re talking our L3 network or L4 network from a Purdue model perspective, which means we’re now able to get the right data to the right people across our organizations.

But then taking a step forward for our IT folks, they’re now worried about, okay, I have multiple of these installed at different sites around the world is we have something called edge orchestration. And that is through our partnership with Zadata. We’re able to manage, update, deploy applications in our DeltaV Edge environment from a single user interface. So that way, it’s very scalable for our users.

Jim: Well, that sounds really helpful from a maintenance perspective. So, from our DeltaV engineers’ perspective, what does it all mean for them having this edge device added to their network?

Zachary: Yeah, and that is one of the biggest things for our DeltaV engineers is, of course, is that security that whoever’s accessing this data couldn’t accidentally do something to the actual production environment.

And so in order to address that, what’s great about this, I say this a little bit tongue in cheek is the, it’s keeping our DeltaV tourists out of the system. Right? We are read only. We can look at the data, but we’re just looking at the data. And so they get that security of being confident that there aren’t hands in the system that could be interfering.

But then also it is designed to be set and forget. Our automation teams that are DeltaV users have plenty of things to work on and focus on. Data management doesn’t need to be one of them. Nobody wants their full time job as a DeltaV engineer to be getting data out of DeltaV. And so this makes it so this is a set and forget where you can easily get access to it without having to continuously maintain these connections and the data community systems.

Jim: So what is that expression? Fences make good neighbors or something like that. It’s almost like this edge device makes good neighbors of the OT community and the IT community. So that sounds like a pretty big benefit for both sides there.

Zachary: That’s a good analogy.

Jim: You mentioned how this helps solve digitalization initiatives. So what kind of practical applications does this support?

Zachary: As we talked about, it does help overcome the barriers to some of these digitalization and initiatives because it allows us to take less time with the accessing of the data and less focus on the security of how we’re going to get to that data.

But that’s the bigger digitalization initiative. And so in practice, the DeltaV Edge environment on its own, because it has all of these different datas coming out of DeltaV and it has these different data egress options with REST APIs and OPC UA. We now have more capabilities of from a practical application standpoint.

So we have users that are using the REST API function to query the data, whether that’s alarm data, control performance data, diagnostic data, in order to pull that into a reporting tool. A common one would be something like Power BI. And then other users of industrial software applications, whether we’re doing and AI is currently the popular topic or whether we’re doing analytics or machine learning or what have you, we can install these industrial applications on top of our edge environment and make use of all the data that is there.

And so those are two of the most powerful ways that we’re seeing these used in practical specific use cases, in addition to the larger digitalization. We are collecting a lot of resources on our website, www.Emerson.com/DeltaVEdge. What we’re collecting there right now is a lot of some of the product capabilities. But we expect to also start posting more of these applications and use cases as we collect them from our users and manufacturers as well.

Jim: Well, that’s great. In fact, you saved me from asking a question, where can our listeners go to learn more? And you said it Emerson.com/DeltaVEdge. And we’ll make sure to put a link on that in the transcript of our podcast here. So, Zach, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing ways to help our listeners drive their digitalization initiatives in their organizations.

Zachary: Yep. Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

– End of transcript –

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