Information Technology and Operational Technology have historically co-existed on separate paths, but driven by Industry 4.0 and IIoT, the two are now converging. IT and OT aligning can lead to several benefits for manufacturing such as integration of plant operational information into ERP systems such as financial or production planning.
At an engineering level, innovative new technologies can provide real-time plant performance visibility and reduced downtime through predicative maintenance by utilising modern approaches such as Digital Twins and Augmented Reality.
However, there are risks involved when IT and OT collide. Due to the ever-increasing risk of cyber-security, companies are keen to implement strategies that protect their plants from cyber threats yet the impact on the physical systems must be considered. IT networks routinely require the latest security patches and firmware updates which are tested on standard PC applications however applying these routine updates to an operational environment is fraught with danger.
Kigtek recently supported a customer who experienced plant downtime when two operational systems stopped speaking to each other. At first a fault was expected within the Siemens PCS7 control system but after a thorough investigation the issue was identified as a Windows security update that had been installed a few days prior. A simple fix in the end by uninstalling the security patch, and the systems were able to communicate again.
This is a prime example of the importance of considering which security updates are required and consider the full IT/OT implications before doing so as it could cost unnecessary downtime to your site.
If your site requires PCS7 support contact us today to discuss how Kigtek can help.