Maintaining Secure and Reliable Control System Performance

Control systems are the heart of manufacturing and production processes. Keeping them operating at peak efficiency while also keeping them secure requires time, energy and focus. Automation suppliers can play a large role in these efforts. News came out today of Guardian Support improvements and simplifications in how DeltaV distributed control system users can better monitor the security and health risks associated with their systems. These enhanced capabilities include:

…updated dashboards and faster access to education and support – increase an organization’s ability to make business critical decisions to improve risk, incident, and lifecycle management.

Emerson's Bob Cruz

I caught up with Emerson’s Bob Cruz who presented along with Yoga Gorur at the Emerson Exchange conference in Austin this past October. Their presentation, New and Improved Guardian Support Improves Your Lifecycle Costs, describes the Guardian Support program as a core element in lifecycle services available for customers.

Guardian support enables real-time visualization and management of the control systems and proactively provides critical, relevant, system-specific information to keep them current. For example, many plant staff engineers are hard-pressed to keep with the security updates caused by issues found at various levels of the software stack. There is also fear about what these updates might affect in the running system—is the patch really necessary and if so, how urgently must the system be patched?

guardian-sytem-health-scoreThrough a secure, customized support portal, the health of the system with the current revisions can be assessed and scored with key performance indicators. Areas to address are identified and shared for review. Here’s a video, Guardian System Health Score, where Bob explains how these KPIs helps to manage not only DeltaV systems, but other applications such as AMS Device Manager, AMS Machinery Health Management products and Syncade manufacturing execution system software.

Managing software patches manually has grown over the years into nearly a full-time role. To avoid as much manual patching as possible, Guardian Support performs a 4-step automated process to capture the current state of the software revisions, evaluate & identify what’s required to be updated, download the tested versions of patches compatible with these versions and deploy and install through an automated patch management service.

Bob shared that one Middle East producer reduced the labor required to perform patching operations by 80% and drive the System Risk Score to top quartile performance levels.

From a lifecycle management standpoint, Guardian Support provides system specific inventory management for the components in the control system. It provides notifications on the lifecycle status whether current, active, supported or retired. This helps with budgetary planning of when components should be swapped out for current ones.

Bob highlighted one of the enhancements in being able to view the System Health Score for all of an enterprise’s registered systems. The new Guardian Connect application is a 30-day trial version of Guardian Support. Guardian Connect allows users to monitor changes in system health via a health score ticker and long-term trending data. After the trial, users can still track the Guardian Connect health score across all registered systems.

Other enhancements include System Health Score trending, human centered design (HCD) user interface improvements, automated component registration daily updates, support for virtualized components, educational course and online videos, SHA-256 encryption checksums for downloads, and integration with lifecycle services such as Site Evaluation Service, Alarm Analysis and Cybersecurity services.

Visit the New Guardian Support Features and Guardian Connect page for more on these enhancements.

You can also connect and interact with other lifecycle services experts in the Operate & Maintain group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

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