CSIA Interviews Xavier Mesrobian

In a recent podcast, Lisa Richter from the Control System Integration Association (CSIA) spoke with Xavier Mesrobian, Skkynet’s VP of Sales and Marketing, about Skkynet and its vision for the future.

“The biggest challenge for system integration is cybersecurity,” Mesrobian said. “Today, and in the future, our ability to control infrastructure and access to company data will becomes a very critical piece of the business. When a company gets hacked, it’s not a small issue. They’re either going to pay a ransom or they’re not—either way it could cost them millions of dollars.”

“Our approach to any project is to be secure by design,” he continued. “If I’m moving data from an operations network to a DMZ or to an IT department, I don’t want to have any attack surfaces; I don’t want to fall back on adding multi-layer security to prevent somebody from breaking into IT. I want the solution to be locked down hard and secure from the get-go.”

“Because at the end of the day, if it’s locked down hard and secure, it’s easy to use. Then you—the system integrator—will garner more activity and more projects. So we understand that we must have a reliable product that you can promote and work with, to keep your customers happy.”

Listen to the full podcast:

This interview was originally  published on the CSIA Exchange and appears here with permission.

Adding Security and Flexibility to MQTT

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) recently published a case study titled Adding Security and Flexibility to MQTT in which an implementation of MQTT was made more secure, and at the same time more flexible, using Skkynet’s DataHub technology.

In a large wood processing plant in North America, managers had planned a data collection and integration system to cut production costs, improve output and enhance network security. However, their chosen protocol, MQTT, did not provide sufficient security and flexibility. The project depended on connecting multiple MQTT inputs to a single MQTT broker in the cloud, while also allowing plant personnel to consolidate, log, and analyze the data along the way. And they had to keep the production system secure behind a DMZ.

No conventional MQTT broker could do all that. Bit they found that DataHub software, with its MQTT Smart Broker, logging, tunnelling, and other features was well suited to the task.

Remote Operations for the Post-COVID Era

A recent article, Remote Operations for the Post-COVID Era, by Harry Forbes at in ARC Advisory Group, tells how the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a greater number of people to work remotely than ever before. The author observes that the need for remote access to production data is not likely to diminish in the foreseeable future.

“Supporting a much larger set of remote knowledge workers will be critical for success in the next one to two years and will probably become an expected part of ‘the new, new normal'” Forbes says.

To illustrate the value and practicality of remote operations, Forbes presents a case study of the recently-completed TANAP pipeline project in Turkey. In this system OPC servers across the entire breadth of the country are connected to a central control room, where they are monitored and controlled by production engineers in real time. Skkynet’s DataHub technology was used to provide the secure data connectivity for the project.

Air Liquide uses conditional bridging for robust control

A recent article in CONTROL magazine tells how engineers at Air Liquide now have a standard way to connect the company’s air separation units.  These units need to work with a variety of distributed control systems in a number of locations. The challenge was to build a system flexible enough to connect to the different control systems without having to reconfigure each of them.

Using the Bridging interface in Skkynet’s DataHub industrial middleware, along with a custom DataHub script created in collaboration with Software Toolbox, Air Liquide has successfully installed their first system, and now plans to expand to more locations in a standard way.

“When Air Liquide shared their requirements with us, the DataHub came immediately to mind as the easiest and most reliable approach,” said Win Worrall of Software Toolbox, who worked closely with the engineering team.

Skkynet software networks OPC A&E data in Turkish pipeline project

Automation.com, a leading online publisher of automation-related content, recently ran an article on a recent Skkynet case study.  DataHub middleware from Skkynet was used by ABB to support redundant, secure networking of OPC A&E and real-time data on the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project in Turkey.

“Almost every functionality that the DataHub offers gets used here,” said Sam Harrasi, PCS Engineer for ABB, the pipeline project technical leader. “Some of the features of the DataHub that we have used are unique to the DataHub, features that other companies with similar products aren’t able to even offer.”


Food Processing Plants Look to IIoT to Stay Competitive

A recent article in Food Engineering collected insights and opinions from executives at a number of industrial automation and control companies regarding how IIoT, Industrie 4.0 and digitization of the plant floor will play out in the area of food and beverage manufacturing.

The shared view was that these new initiatives are worth pursuing in food processing, as long as they are balanced with caution and good judgement. The article said, “While no one interviewed would suggest that a food or beverage manufacturer convert all its manufacturing software systems to an industrial internet of things (IIoT) platform in one fell swoop, many would suggest that to remain competitive in a fast-changing consumer product environment, it wouldn’t be a bad idea—for those that haven’t already done so—to embark on the ‘digitalization journey’ now.”

Skkynet’s contribution to the conversation focused on the value of connecting real-time production data to management, and what that might look like in the context of food processing. We also shared our thoughts on a number of other topics, such as the value of secure-by-design data communications, but these were outside the scope of the final published article.