Tuesday 15 November 2022

Digitalization strategy.

As a sponsor of this year's NAMUR Annual General Meeting, HIMA presented an overall concept for the digitalization of functional safety with added value.

In the process industry, the safety concept and the regular proof of safety are prerequisites for the operating license of a plant. The obligations of operators in the planning and operation of safety devices are correspondingly extensive. To support the skilled workers, HIMA presented a comprehensive digitalization strategy at the User Meeting of Process Automation Specialists (NAMUR) in Neuss (D - November 10th and 11th, 2022).

The functional safety regulations are extensive, and the required processes for testing, verification and documentation are complex. This is partly due to the fact that trained specialists have to process different data sources. After all, the safety systems in the process industry still mostly consist of isolated solutions that only a few specialists take care of. And so it is hardly surprising that many plant operators see challenges to implement the requirements of the complex set of rules.

In the sponsor of the NAMUR Annual General Meeting 2022’s keynote speech , it became clear that on one hand the requirements continue to increase, but on the other solutions are also available. "Functional safety systems are moving from a marginal position further and further into the center of plant automation," explained Jörg de la Motte, CEO of HIMA: "In the past, safety systems were in place, occasionally shut down plants and provided sparse information about the 'why' due to meager data transmitted via simple interfaces. We see that this is changing due to the trend towards digitalization." Security systems are increasingly becoming data hubs that need to process and distribute additional data in addition to performing the actual safety functions.

Security needs more than just certification.
To ensure that the original safety function is not impaired, security measures are extremely important. Peter Sieber, Vice President Strategic Marketing at HIMA, showed that security is not only a task in the development of safety systems, but must also be lived in the operating phase: "A security certification of the products alone creates neither safety nor security! Products must be designed to be robust in order to withstand security attacks."  Around half of all certified products have security gaps and are vulnerable.

Manufacturers must therefore create an appropriate security environment in addition to security certification. At HIMA, this includes the development of software according to defensive design principles and the encapsulation of safety systems in a "security environment" whose boundaries are secured by firewalls. Within the security environment, physically separate interfaces are used for different tasks.

In order to simplify the life cycle management of safety equipment, HIMA, together with its strategic partner Mangan Software Solutions, has developed a solution (Safety Lifecycle Manager, SLM®) that replaces tasks relating to safety equipment that were previously manually performed with automatic data collection and automated evaluations. This facilitates standards-compliant operation and increases efficiency. Recurring tasks for functional safety are defined once and their temporal and content-related implementation is then automatically monitored. This allows specialist personnel to concentrate on important process steps, resulting in cost savings in the region of 70% in practice.

Digitalization awakens the appetite.
With the increasing degree of digitalization in the process industry, the demands on systems in safety technology are also growing. In order to keep pace here, HIMA is extending its range of plug-ins in its SILworX programming system, with which its own tools, and also those from other providers, are to be made easy to use. "The big developments are currently happening within the software. The software is the driver of digitalization," explained Sergej Arent, Director Applications at HIMA: "With plug-ins, we can react faster and more flexibly to customer requirements without compromising SILworX certification." The security experts are not lacking in ideas: For example, a digital inventory manager is conceivable, with which information about hardware and software versions in the security system can be exported to an ERP system.

"In 2030, functional safety will have to be largely digital in order to meet all operator requirements ," summarized HIMA CEO Jörg de la Motte.

@NicolePringal #HIMA #NAMUR #Safety #Digitisation #PAuto

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