Change Management System – How to Protect Plant Automations

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IoT / Smart Factory

Change Management System – How to Protect Plant Automations

Digital solutions have transformed the manufacturing floor operations to increase production significantly. Nevertheless, the automation plan has forced the manufacturers to depend highly on PLC, PC-based control systems, SCADA systems, robotic controllers, and HIMs. 

The problem with this process is safeguarding the plant automation. The automation systems are obsolete and not connected to a centralized workstation using coding logic. 

The entire control program logic includes various program files for execution. Even a minor tweak to the coding by humans or machine malfunctions, etc., can lead to security challenges, costing the manufacturers massively. 

So, it is vital to safeguard the plant automation to lower the maintenance cost and eliminate production delays. 

While many companies tried their proprietary solutions to secure the control logic and prevent production mishaps, the efforts didn’t suffice the need to halt program changes and device management. 

Change management system – why you need one

With traditional proprietary systems failing to satisfy the need, manufacturers have started looking for solutions that can improve plant automation security. 

One such solution is Change Management Solution (CMS). A change management software is a centralized system that connects the PLC and PC-based programs. Every business has a unique set of programs to be executed. Small businesses have fewer programs, and large companies have more than a thousand. 

With the help of the CMS, managing program changes and saving the expenses associated with program logic challenges is immaculate. 

Thus, a potential CMS for automation safety should help you with:

  • Program revisions and archives
  • Document management tools to ensure transparency
  • Discover change in record history
  • Secure access to users and workstations
  • Disaster recovery for hardware failures
  • User permissions for editor operations control 
  • Change detection for reversal 

The floor operations involve many machines that affect a large volume of data. This makes the process complex as even a simple program change or adjustment can ultimately impact the entire operations on the floor. 

This could prove costly for the manufacturers. Recoding the program and executing the files can be challenging if the data or program logic is lost. And this impacts the complete production on the floor. 

Resuming production is daunting and time-consuming without any backup or revision of older program files. The cost also includes rewriting the program and testing and executing it without hassle. 

All the challenges are eliminated with the help of a Change Management System incorporated within the manufacturing floor. The cost associated with implementing the enterprise-wide CMS is often lower than the program rewrites, testing, and commissioning. 

Why is a CMS critical for plant automation safeguard

Before getting started with the significance of the CMS for floor automation security, it is critical to realize the risks associated with floor automation. 

Fabricated errors

This is the most common challenge on the production floor. Any changes or logical changes accidentally by a worker can cause catastrophic destruction to your productivity. 

The accidental changes can hurt your operations desperately, and without a backup file, it is almost impossible to get the automation back on track. Having a CMS-based environment helps you recover the lost file with a backup and run the program to start producing in a quick time.

Machine breakdown

Realizing the production problem is vital before acting upon it. It is necessary to identify whether the equipment or the software has a problem. If the problem is related to machines, they can be replaced to resume production again. The downtime won’t be extended, and getting the output on track is simple. With the help of a CMS it is highly possible. 

Software sabotage 

This can turn out to be an unfortunate event for your plant operations. While connecting every PLC, PC-based system to a centralized system for better performance, there can also be a threat. If someone injects a code into the centralized system, it will never be easy for the manufacturers to kick start the production again. 

A CMS-based operation floor can help you with backup files to restart the program and files to start the operations quickly. 

Every change inflicted in the program will be backed up in the CMS, and the historical details can be used to identify the changes and modifications to be acted upon.

Frequent power outages/interruptions 

Power outages and interruptions are the most common of the many factors that hamper manufacturing production. The power problems often lead to program loss and halting operations. With CMS in place, the backup program is used to restart the operations. 

Unexpected fire damages

Under the circumstances like fire breakouts on the floor, the chances of losing the programs are high as the entire structure is completely devastated. Under such circumstances, having centralized program storage can help you with backup programs. This way, you can resume the operations once the hardware is reset. 

Vicious cyber attacks

Growing Cyber-attack can destroy your manufacturing production staggeringly. The evolution of the internet and technology has not only assisted companies but also paved the way for destruction. With a CMS in place, identifying the vulnerabilities and improving the program based on the recommendations is seamless. 

With a CMS system in place, you stand a chance to mitigate every challenge I have shared above. As these unfortunate events can cost your business an arm and a leg, it is vital to invest in a reliable and robust tool like a CMS to improve operations. 

CMS implementation strategy – what you need to know 

While a lot is talked about CMS and its benefits, if you don’t implement the solution in the right way, you’re gone. Let’s analyze the factors that impact the implementation of the CMS on your manufacturing floor. 

Here are a few pointers that can help you with successful CMS implementation. 

  • Understanding the processes 
  • Identifying communication routes of devices
  • Installing software on the server and respective workstations
  • Configuring communication routes
  • Identifying the frequency of changes
To conclude

I know the above-stated tasks must be performed to perfection to extract the ROI from the CMS implementation. It may not be seamless for companies as their staff is working on multiple tasks. 

The best and simple way to handle this is by partnering with a reliable CMS solution provider. 

We are experts if you’re looking for one to safeguard your floor automation assets. 

Have queries or need advice concerning CMS implementation?

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