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Industrial development has embraced newer technologies to stay competitive, meet the safety and standards requirements. The first revolution in manufacturing started with the use of mechanisation using steam and water. The second revolution was the use of electricity, followed by the third revolution using computer-based automation. The fourth revolution, termed Industry 4.0, further increases automation by using smart and autonomous systems along with IoT and cloud computing. Automation aims to reduce human interaction, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. The monitoring and control of large distributed systems such as oil & gas pipelines, power lines, mining, etc., have been done using SCADA systems. SCADA systems have seen many upgrades by embracing newer technologies. New technologies such as Industrial IoT can undertake the functions of SCADA systems and do much more. This article explores the integration of industrial IOT with the SCADA system.
2 SCADA System
The SCADA systems became popular with monitoring and control in Oil & Gas, mining, utilities, and power industry for more than 40 years. Initially, the system used proprietary technologies, including mainframe computers, remote terminal units (RTUs), and software to monitor and control systems. The RTU collected data from sensors in the field and sent it to the master control centre to process and initiate controls. The systems were upgraded with the advances in computer systems and industrial control systems. A graphical user interface, high-end workstation, and computer network further upgraded the SCADA system. The use of traditional PLC for data collection further enhanced the SCADA system at the field level and introduced distributed SCADA system. The RTUs used to be just data collection or control passing devices were replaced by PLCs, which could process the data at source and take necessary control action at the local level without involving the master station. The emergence of TCP/IP protocol and its use in communication with remote units brought some standardisation in SCADA systems. SCADA applications are limited to industrial units and are traditionally used by Oil & Gas industry, power sector, railways, mining, and other utilities. The SCADA systems have been integrated with the corporate network in a limited manner for security reasons. The integration with the corporate network allowed management direct access to key parameters of the process and enabled them to take quick and informed decisions. After 1990, the attacks on SCADA and industrial control systems have been a cause of concern for the industry. Special attention is being given to providing adequate security for such systems. Some of the prominent attacks on the SCADA system include:
- Maroochy Shire Sewage system when attacked by a disgruntled employee led to the release of around one million litres of sewage into the river and coastal water in Queensland, Australia.
- Attack on Siemen’s S-7 SCADA system in Iran using a malware called Stuxnet in 2010. A worm was installed on a PLC to inject malware code into the system using an infected USB drive. The malware looked for specific information and then sent it to the external servers.
- A virus, called “Sobig”, infected CSX Corporation’s computers in Jacksonville, Fla, and led to disruption in dispatching, signalling, and other systems. This outage affected the complete CSX system covering 23 states and led to delays and the cancellation of many trains.
- In 2015, attackers used the BlackEnergy 3 malware version on the power grid SCADA system of Ukraine. The attack led to shutting down 30 power stations and cut power to 230,000 citizens for about 6 hrs. Ukraine’s system was attacked again in 2016 using more sophisticated malware CRASHOVERRIDE, leading to the shutting down of 30 substations. The BlackEnergy malware has infected many SCADA systems.
These incidents show that the impact of an attack on the Industrial system can be devastating, and the security of the SCADA system needs to be taken very seriously.
The security of the SCADA system depends on the security of technologies and devices used by the system. The use of open-source technologies and protocol make SCADA system vulnerable to a loophole in these systems. For example, the use of Internet-related technologies such as TCP/IP protocols have made SCADA systems vulnerable to loophole in Internet protocols.
3 Industrial IoT
As the name suggests, Industrial IoT (IIOT) is applying IoT for industrial applications instead of IoT, mainly connecting consumer-level devices. The IIoT constitutes a network of devices, sensors, and actuators with embedded electronics, software setup, and an integrated network interface. The sensors and devices used in IIoT follow more rigorous standards to make them suitable for work in harsh industrial environments. It allows intelligent machine-to-machine communication, allows connected devices to be monitored and controlled remotely. The IIoT combines data analytics with machine-to-machine communication to provide efficient solutions for the industry across varying network infrastructures. Industrial IoT uses smart/intelligent devices to collect information and smart actuator for controlling systems. These intelligent devices analyse data collected in real-time and collaborate with other connected devices to automate industrial and manufacturing processes. The use of smart machines increases efficiency and faster communication in industrial processes. These intelligent devices analyse and store data collected and forward the data for generating business information and long-term data storage. The information provided can be used for optimising business processes and predictive maintenance. With more and more devices in the IoT networks, the data generated is likely to be huge as well as the information available from such a large amount of data can be very critical and provide deep insights into the processes using technologies such as big data analysis and artificial intelligence analytics. As per a report by PWC, the use of IoT in the industry can save 3.6% cost annually by optimising energy use, reducing downtime, and inventory and increase efficiency by 4.1%.
The use of IIoT in the oil and gas sector is helping in the daily operations of the companies. The IIoT can alert the drilling crew in advance of any drilling issues using sensor data, thereby enhancing security and reducing risk in operations. The use of smart devices can reduce manual inspection for long pipelines. Integration of product production with a despatch system can reduce inventory and logistical problems in oil refineries. IoT can enhance safety in operations and maintenance by detecting and analysing problems such as leaks in real-time at the edge. Asset tracking and monitoring is another area where IIoT can help reducing inventories and track shipments over large distributed locations.
4 Industrial IoT and SCADA
SCADA is an in-plant monitoring and control system. The components used in making up even a modern SCADA system have limited intelligence and analytics capability. In addition, the intercommunication between various SCADA devices uses mostly proprietary protocols, and interaction with other devices is minimal. These characteristics of the traditional SCADA system make it suitable to use in a fixed environment with limited capability and scalability. For example, the SCADA systems for two different processes cannot be combined, and one needs to use two independent systems for monitoring and control.
On the other hand, Industrial IoT is based on several intelligent devices with analytic capability that communicates with each other to make decisions based on real-time environment. This improves performance, accuracy, efficiency and reduces human intervention. One can keep on adding devices as the situation demand, with limitless scalability. The IIoT based system thus provides much more flexibility and scalability than the SCADA system. The data generated by the IIoT system is available anywhere via the cloud environment and can be processed to make critical business decisions. This will enable the development of innovative business models.
Slowly the IoT-enabled devices are being inducted into the SCADA system, and the IoT concept is making inroads into the SCADA system. This up-gradation of the SCADA system is being done seamlessly to bring greater flexibility and openness. However, the availability of IoT-enabled sensors and devices is limited. As a result, designers rely more on proven equipment for critical industrial applications.
With many industrial units using traditional SCADA systems, the way forward is to jointly use SCADA and IIoT capabilities to achieve the best results. The IIoT system can be deployed on top of SCADA systems. The SCADA system can continue to do its monitoring and control functions. In contrast, the IIoT system takes data from the SCADA system and use its analytic and intelligence to process the data more efficiently.
5 Present Scenario
The availability of IIoT related products is still limited to devices used for connectivity, gateways, and cloud-based software. GE, one of the pioneers in the IIoT field, has come out with their Predix A cloud-based platform that claims to be a total solution for industrial monitoring, analysis, and management. The solution includes visualisation, defence in depth at every layer, predictive maintenance, operations optimisation, private cloud, analytics for anomaly detection, custom applications, machine learning, etc. However, as per reports, GE failed to get the expected response. Some other platforms from major vendors include ThingWorx, Oracle IoT Cloud Service (PaaS), SAP Leonardo IoT, IBM Watson IoT, Azure IoT, Kaa, Siemens MindSphere, etc.
Large organisations such as ABB, Airbus, Boeing, Caterpillar, Hitachi, and others have embraced IoT in their manufacturing operations. Boeing is using IoT-driven blockchain right from design to end of life for the operation and maintenance of aircraft. The system allows Boeing engineers to understand the working of each aircraft in detail and use predictive analysis to undertake maintenance before failure. Caterpillar is using IoT to gather data from all its connected machines to understand the issues involved and prepare solutions to enhance customer value.
A Canadian start-up SCADACore has come out with several IIoT products, including sensors with cellular/satellite connectivity and can be monitored and controlled using the cloud from anywhere. Their solar-powered products with a satellite interface can help monitor and control remotely located installations such as pumping stations using their Could-based monitoring system. Their products include cellular modems with an interface such as Modbus/RS232/RS485 for monitoring existing systems via the cloud.
An essential requirement of IoT is a robust communication system. The industry is betting big on 5G technology for IoT to provide robust and secure connectivity even at far of locations. A high-density IoT deployment will need a system that can support a large number of devices. 5G with its large spectrum in mm waveband and the smaller cell size can take care of this requirement with ease. The low latency and high uplink speed provided by 5G will take care of systems requiring workload processing to the edge.
6 Issues in IIoT and SCADA integration
The fast development in the IIoT space has led to the development and availability of various IoT solutions. A full-fledged IoT system requires IoT-enabled devices that can communicate with each other using standard protocols and interfaces. Implementing these solutions across the industry requires the correct type of sensors and hardware. A large number of manufacturers and service providers are naming their solutions as IoT solutions to grab the evolving business space. This has caused a lack of standards and inconsistency among IoT solutions. Making the IIoT system work seamlessly requires standardisation to enable portability, interoperability, and manageability of all the devices across a broad spectrum.
The standardisation process for IoT devices is yet to mature, and the framework for standardisation is yet to be established. The availability of IoT devices with a standard interface for varying requirements of the industry will take a long time to be readily available. For example, in the oil and gas sector, the availability of IoT-enabled sensors is limited to few vendors who provide limited types of sensors. So far, no joint effort of standardisation in IoT space has been initiated. Although at technical levels, organisations such as IEEE, One M2M, 3GPP, ITU-T, ESTI are working to develop relevant standards and protocols. For example, 3GPP has come out with specifications for Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) suitable for the connectivity of low-power and low-cost devices.
Many industrial systems require a quick response that may not be possible using cloud-based systems due to time lag. In such cases, edge-based control systems are more suitable. For example, in the oil and gas sector, time is critical in many operations such as drilling, and a control system is needed at the site itself for operational safety.
However, in IoT, with many devices connected using an open network, the security issue is a significant concern, primarily because of past attacks on SCADA systems traditionally kept away from the public network. SCADA networks are spread over extensive areas with tens of thousands of data points, especially in oil and gas sectors and power distribution systems. The use of IIoT enabled devices and gateways in industrial organisations for creating a connected infrastructure will have a large number of embedded devices with a long lifespan. These devices will collect live data and communicate using a machine to machine protocols and may take necessary control at the edge level. Any security beach in such an overall system can be used to penetrate the whole network. Maintaining the security of embedded devices is a big challenge as these cannot be updated like other software systems to mitigate evolving attacks.
The security challenges for Industrial IoT include:
- The engineering and operators designing SCADA systems do not have a deep understanding of security principles. On the other hand, the IT persons involved are not very familiar with the industrial environment making it difficult to prepare a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy.
- The industrial devices are not designed with security in mind due to their use in closed environments, leaving them vulnerable when used in an open environment.
- The adequate monitoring of endpoint devices is not there with available tools, and hence it is difficult to monitor their exploitation.
- The industrial environment does not provide downtime for security updates leaving field devices without security patching.
The security of the industrial system using IIoT must be taken into consideration at the design stage itself. A defence-in-depth strategy needs to be adopted with authentication for all users, devices, applications, using encryption for data storage and transport. Implementation of endpoint security methodology for all devices is essential. The total system should be designed for end-to-end security.
The Industrial IoT development and standardisation is still in its nascent stage. It will be long before standardised devices and software are available for fully integrated IIoT systems. The way forward is the integration of IIoT technologies with the SCADA system. IIoT can work on top of the SCADA system and provide value addition to the SCADA system. The use of combined platforms can increase productivity, reduce wastage, increase efficiency, decrease downtime using predictive maintenance, and extend the life of the equipment. The integration of IIoT with SCADA will create a smart grid that has flexibility and scalability.
The up-gradation of the existing system can be done by using data collected by the SCADA system and processing this data using IoT software to generate analytical reports, monitoring equipment to generate predictive maintenance schedules based on past and present performance. The IIoT system can be used to get data from the SCADA system of various plants and take up combined analysis to generate reports and analysis so that their operations can be done more efficiently. For example, the system can generate a shared inventory pool for expensive spares for various plants to save on inventory costs. The IIoT enables devices can be used for the expansion of existing systems or additional facilities being created. IIoT can provide comprehensive monitoring and control of the system without any addition to expensive SCADA system software and applications.
The integration will allow the best of IIoT and SCADA features to be used and increase efficiency and safety in operations.