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Cloudy with a Chance of Security

How to Securely Get Plant Data into an Azure Database Via a Site-to-Site VPN.

Data that is generated and resides in the plant can be extremely useful for the continued success of the company, but it often resides in a highly protected and regulated environment. Rather than pushing the information to a database on the enterprise network, many people are moving toward cloud-based data processing and analytics for greater accessibility and expandability. So how can we get the data out of that environment securely and allow the business to start further increasing the value of that data? 

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Three Consequences of Procrastinating a Control System Upgrade

Your production facility is an income-producing asset – this is where you get products to market and where profits are made or lost. Your control system is the brains of that asset, and it’s critically important to keep that brain as sharp and up-to-date as possible. Failing to give your control system much needed TLC over its lifetime will eventually come back to haunt you. Here are three potential consequences to consider.

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5 Techniques to Mitigate Risk During Your Control System Upgrade

Has maintaining your outdated control system become increasingly difficult, time consuming, and costly? It may be time for an upgrade. Control system upgrades come with some inherent risks of disruption and downtime, but there are steps you can take to mitigate as much risk as possible during the upgrade. Let’s briefly examine five common risk mitigation strategies our engineers at Vertech employ to help ensure a smooth migration.

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Understanding PID Loop Process Control - Part 1

PID control is one of the most commonly used closed-loop control mechanisms in industrial control systems. PID controllers work great when applied and configured correctly, and they are often viewed as a sort of magic box that can solve any process control problem. To successfully apply and tune these controllers, it is important to understand how they work, the math behind them, and the nuances of the specific implementation by various manufacturers. This post provides an intuitive look at how a PID works before getting into the math.

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Upgrading Wastewater Treatment Facility Process Control Systems

When it comes to upgrading systems that control the utilities we rely on, in addition to designing and developing reliable systems, strategic implementations need to be planned to avoid shutdowns and service interruptions. In this case, our client had two active wastewater treatment facilities running on aging Allen-Bradley SLC-500 PLCs and Wonderware InTouch. Another issue is that documentation did not exist for many of the existing control panels, and the client had no faith in the drawings they had.

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Balancing Code Standardization and Flexibility in PLC Programming

If your systems work differently from plant to plant or machine to machine, you have experienced the downside of a lack of standardization. PLC programming standards are a great tool to ensure that functionality and operator experience are identical within your organization. This reduces training time and prevents costly mistakes. This is a custom world, though, and systems tend to be “the same except.” How do you maintain the benefits of standardized code while remaining flexible enough to handle inevitable equipment differences?

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Monitoring a Remote Gold and Silver Mine in Mexico

The Santa Elena Mine in Northern Mexico is in a remote location where there are extremely limited local resources. For efficiency and safety purposes, the mine needed to fully automate its on-site processing of gold and silver ore under tight schedule requirements. Because of the remote location, the client required a modular process control design that was prewired and tested before arriving on site.

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Simplifying Amarillo International Airport Security By Streamlining Its Baggage Handling System

While no one enjoys standing in line for airport security, we all recognize that the process is an important, and necessary, step to keep travelers and airline employees safe in flight. When an airport is using outdated equipment or systems that continually break or operate slowly, not only is the process more unpleasant for travelers, but it is also less secure.

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And the Best SCADA System is...

A SCADA system is not cheap, and it is very reasonable to want the most bang for your buck when investing in a new system. So what is the best one? Or rather, which one gives you the most value?

When all the construction dust settles and your operations staff take over, the most important thing a SCADA system can deliver is reliable and efficient operation of your facility. From day to day operation to handling equipment failures, your SCADA will be the go-to tool for operators to deliver business value to your organization. So how can you be sure that you’re giving your staff the best tool for the job?

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A Walk Down Memory Lane: Staying Sharp in the Ever-Changing Industrial Automation Business

Being the guy with the most grey hair (what little is left) in the office, I occasionally look back in amazement at how far our industry has progressed. Look at some of our other 20th century marvels: the airplane – basically the same since the 60s; automobiles – they might be flashier, but still fundamentally the same for decades. The first computer I ever used was an IBM 360 with 64K of core memory and 3 disk drives with 7 megabytes of storage each. You can’t even fit a small photo in 7 meg today.

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