ExxonMobil Seeks Open Automation Solutions

At the most recent ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, ExxonMobil announced that they are not satisfied with business as usual when it comes to industrial automation, and they are looking for something far superior to what is currently being offered.  On January 14, 2016, ExxonMobil announced that they had awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to serve as the systems integrator in the early stage development of a next-generation open and secure automation system for process industries.  Lockheed Martin is tasked to seek out the architecture and tools needed for an “open, standards-based, secure and interoperable control system” that can be seamlessly integrated with existing facilities, as well as new and future systems.  ExxonMobil wants the hardware and software components to be commercially available and able to function in all current DCS markets.

Rather than simply replace their aging systems with the current state of the art, which is expensive, inflexible, and closed, ExxonMobil wants to leverage new, open, IoT, wireless, and cloud technologies to cut costs, enhance security, and reduce development time. As with other, adjacent areas of technology, they want to see a step-change improvements, not incremental or bolted-on changes to obsolete architectures.

Originally presented at Industry Day on January 26, 2016

Their vision for open automation is standards-based, secure, and interoperable, which will:

  1. Promote innovation & value creation
  2. Effortlessly integrate best-in-class components
  3. Afford access to leading-edge capability & performance
  4. Preserve the asset owner’s application software
  5. Significantly lower the cost of future replacement
  6. Employ an adaptive intrinsic security model

This vision reads like a list of Skkynet connectivity solutions features and benefits:

  1. SkkyHub, DataHub, and the ETK foster innovation and value creation by providing open-standards, real-time data connectivity for hardware and software from almost any vendor.
  2. These Skkynet tools allow users to integrate data from virtually any components.
  3. This kind of real-time data integration enables each component in turn to perform at its highest capacity.
  4. Any generation of equipment, from legacy to state-of-the-art, can be integrated.
  5. Connecting modules can be replaced, and the system itself gets continually updated.
  6. Connections from the DataHub or ETK to SkkyHub are secure by design.

We are currently in communication with Lockheed Martin, and bringing these advantages to ExxonMobil’s attention. We share their vision, and offer tested, verified, working solutions.

Cutting Costs with the Industrial IoT

What is the ongoing attraction of the Industrial IoT?  Why does it get so much press these days?  Moving past the glitz and hype, beyond the desire to follow the “next big thing”, corporate executives from IBM to GE have recognized that there are solid benefits.  And many of these benefits boil down to this: cost savings.

“Leading thinkers have looked at cost savings available in terms of productivity, new business models and environmental benefits compared to the cost of implementing these systems and they’ve determined that this is the direction they want to go,” said Steve Jennis, Senior Vice President for Corporate Development at PrismTech in a speech at Smart Industry 2015 in Chicago last October.

Jennis points out that the steady reduction in costs for hardware and data connectivity infrastructure are making the Industrial IoT possible, and increasingly accessible for more and more companies.  Multi-million dollar SCADA systems, once available only to governments and large corporations, are giving way to thousand-dollar remote monitoring and supervisory control systems that can be implemented by small and medium-sized companies.  And the reach of these systems goes far beyond the plant floor.  “We can connect the enterprise end-to-end for a reasonable cost for the first time ever,” Jennis says.  “That’s what’s making the difference.”


That being the case, Jennis does see challenges.  There are cultural challenges of merging the IT (information technology) culture of generalized, people-focused applications with OT (operations technology) requirements for specialized, real-time, mission-critical systems.  And there are technical challenges of integrating data among machines and systems from different epocs, vendors, and locations, often using a variety of protocols and engineering units.

“From a technology standpoint,” recommends Jennis, “systems must be adopted that enable data connectivity on demand in real time across different environments to provide a global data space that can be utilized to give people what they need to do their job.”

At Skkynet we understand these challenges, and develop products like SkkyHub, DataHub, and the ETK to meet them.  At a cost far below a commercial SCADA system, and with very short implementation times, Skkynet users leverage the benefits of real-time cloud computing and off-the-shelf software to get up and running on the Industrial IoT, and start cutting their costs right away.