News

BEYOND THE FIREWALL: Industrial Hardening- A subset of Cybersecurity

Posted on by Trident

The convenience of real-time production data at your fingertips is a reality of today’s manufacturing. But the flip side of instant access anywhere, is your most valued systems could be open to malware and hackers.

Today, Trident Automation is focusing on service beyond the firewall–systems and add-ons that are designed to protect your plant yet allow secure access. A far cry from past production environments where the DCS was always isolated from the Internet.

“Now, C-level execs and plant staff want the same access to production data at home that they do at the plant. They want to be able to troubleshoot at any time,” said Jason Hurst, CEO of Trident. “It’s a changing field and one that requires increased protection.”

Hurst and his teams describe the systems as a “check valve” for operations and stresses that security systems are appropriate for any sized plant, not just mega manufacturers. Security systems create a firewall between the plant and the DCS to protect information yet allow access. Trident uses a combination of hardware appliances and software solutions called industrial hardening. Some of the features Trident deploys:

  • Two-factor authentication providing a second layer of security.
  • Modified group policies in the MS operating system to restrict traffic and resources.
  • Security appliances are added to restrict access and unwanted traffic.
  • Patch management and firmware updates.
  • Security training and best practices.
  • Asset protection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trident’s security systems follow the guidelines set by ISA/IEC 62443 standards that provide criteria for industrial automation and control systems security. Major vendors for DCS systems supply their own security appliances and Trident incorporates their technology with other industry leading firewall companies to offer the best in class solution.

“We’ve been implementing firewall solutions for a while, but we’re going deeper into the architecture to secure the DCS even further,” Hurst said.

To customize a security program for your DCS, contact Trident Automation at [email protected] or 920-759-7477 for a quote.

Trident Automation to attend the Team M3 Maintenance Manager Meeting

Posted on by Trident

The annual Team M3 Maintenance Manager Meeting hosted by Pinal Energy will be held at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa in Phoenix Arizona from March 13-15. The meeting gives maintenance managers and engineers a chance to share issues facing the ethanol industry and to explore solutions from vendors.

 

Trident Automation has served over 150 ethanol plants nationwide customizing control systems for each individual plant.

 

“Our systems are designed on open platforms, so operators, maintenance, and managers are able to securely operate and maintain their plant control system,” said Jason Hurst, CEO of Trident Automation. “But when customers need immediate service, we’re available 24/7 for troubleshooting and maintenance.”

 

Visit us at booth #1 at the Team M3 Maintenance Manager Meeting.

 

For more information about Trident Automation, visit www.tridentautomation.com or email [email protected].

Trident to attend Ethanol Plant Managers Meeting

Posted on by Trident

The industry’s annual Plant Managers Meeting hosted by Homeland Energy Solutions will be held at the Isle Casino Hotel in Iowa from January 28-31. The meeting gives plant managers and engineers a chance to share issues facing the ethanol industry and to explore solutions from vendors. Key on this year’s agenda is a session in which plant managers dissect specific incidents in individual plants and review outcomes.

Trident representatives will review the latest products and services customized for ethanol producers including:

  • Migrating operating systems from legacy DCS environments to the latest platforms,
  • Designing sequences to reliably control system processes,
  • Combustion control technologies that enhance plant safety,
  • Burner management systems and much more.

Jason Hurst, CEO

“Our customers are looking for solutions that will keep their plants functioning and deliver consistent product quality,” said Jason Hurst, CEO of Trident Automation. “This meeting is a great opportunity for plant leaders to learn about the most innovative solutions to operate ethanol plants efficiently.”

Trident Automation has served over 150 ethanol plants nationwide customizing control systems for each individual plant.

“Our systems are designed on open platforms, so operators, maintenance, and managers are able to securely operate and maintain their plant control system,” Hurst said. “But when customers need immediate service, we’re available 24/7 for troubleshooting and maintenance.”

Minimizing variability and maximizing production

Posted on by Trident

What if you could fine-tune your control system to minimize variability and maximize production? There are hundreds of process loops in an ethanol plant that can be a significant source of variability. Taking the time to identify variability and determining if control loops are a contributor is often complex and time consuming.

Until now.

Trident Automation is offering a software module that works in conjunction with our Trident Workbench called LoopPAC©, Control Loop Performance Monitoring. LoopPAC© is a software program that quickly and accurately identifies control loops that are operating at less than optimal performance.

“Plant operations is often adjusting for variability, but it is typically hard to track down root cause in a system as complex as a biofuels refinery.” Jerry Wenzel, Chief Knowledge Officer for Trident said. “Control loops can be a significant contributor to that variability.  LoopPAC© is the tool to shine a light on that variability and help you resolve it.”

There are typically a lot of issues that LoopPAC© finds when you first run it.  The package helps you prioritize what it reports, and the first run results often are eye opening.  There is often “low hanging fruit”, opportunities for significant improvement without a huge effort or cost.  Long-term, because control loop performance often degrades over time due to things like control valve wear, LoopPAC© is able to significantly contribute to your preventative maintenance efforts.

LoopPAC© uses your plant’s existing data and automatically configures its database by identifying loops in your control system configuration. The package analyzes PV/SP deviation, valve travel and numerous other key indications of control loop health.  When one of those factors degrades LoopPAC© flags the loop as needing attention and reports it according to the priority level you place on that loop.

The benefits of LoopPAC© are:

  • Records and aggregates deviation between PV & set point, so you can control the ranges of your plant’s optimal operation.
  • Records the cumulative change in controller output. Excessive output changes are an indication of poor control loop performance and a major case of control valve failure. This allows operators to better monitor the wear and tear on plant hardware..
  • Tracks the time loops spend in manual. If operators are consistently putting a loop in manual, that is an indication the loop needs attention.
  • Organizes and reports loop problems in an easy to understand prioritized format. .

Control loops are a significant source of variability and keeping your plant at peak performance means increased profitability. LoopPAC© is the valuable tool needed to manage the production details that may be affecting your bottom line.

LoopPAC© is available as a module to Trident Workbench© Suite of products.

Contact Trident Automation for more information or a demonstration at [email protected].

Trident’s innovative e-store for previously used DCS hardware

Posted on by Trident

In order to better support customers, Trident Automation is providing a service—an online e-store featuring previously used hardware. The Trident e-store has been open as of Oct. 3, 2017 and provides hundreds of replacement parts for businesses currently running APACS, Foxboro and other control systems.

Siemens announced it will discontinue support for the APACS system in 2020; as an independent integrator and Siemens solution partner, Trident will continue to offer replacement parts and system service. Foxboro announced the FCP270 Field Control Processor will no longer be sold and the manufacturer will no longer support this product.

As one of the largest independent integrators in the nation, Trident has been upgrading customer systems, re-purchasing the old APACS systems and Foxboro products, and keeping them in inventory. “We’ve been working with the APACS system since before we were founded in 2002 and have replaced or upgraded more than 30 systems,” said Jason Hurst, CEO of Trident Automation. As a result, Trident has a healthy inventory of IEMs, ACMs, cables, IO cards, controllers, cables, termination boards, chassis, and more.

The APACS system is widely used in paper industry, ethanol industry, wastewater treatment plants and many more industries. The Foxboro FCP270 Field Control Processor is used chemical, petroleum, power generation and other industries that use continuous process automation.

Trident leaders created the e-store due to the large number of industries still using the product. “This will give customers a little more time to make a decision about system upgrading,” Hurst said. “If you’re trying to go an extra couple years using an APACS system, we’re here to help.”

Trident currently has many items listed for sale and current promotions for the remainder of the year. To use the Trident e-store, visit www.tridentautomation.com/shop  to search the product database and place online orders via credit card. Parts will be shipped within two business days.

According to Hurst, Trident will continue to service the APACS product and Foxboro products indefinitely. “We actually have the experience to maintain the product instead of just selling parts,” Hurst said. For more information from Trident Automation, please visit www.tridentautomation.com.

Why upgrade?

Jason Hurst, Founder

The distributed control system (DCS) is the brain of any manufacturing plant, providing the intricate knowledge and responsiveness needed to keep production running smoothly. For many plants, the decision to upgrade a DCS is often made well beyond the life of the system, when operations are starting to fail or falling behind current technology.

So how do plant managers know when it’s time to upgrade?

Check out the article, DCS Upgrade Detailed, written by our very own Jason Hurst. This article is featured in Ethanol Producer’s October 2018 issue.

Advanced and Enhanced

Trident Automation has been featured in an article by Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Check out the article, Advanced and Enhanced written by Susanne Retka Schill.

Trident’s Focus: Customer Confidence and Trust

Posted on by Trident

Trident Automation has been featured in an article by AutomationWorld Magazine.
Learn how Trident found a solution for ways to limit downtime during a control system migration for our customers in the continuous process industries.

Check out the article, Using Simulation to Reduce Commissioning Time and Increase Customer Confidence.

Join Trident at the TEAM M3 conference

Posted on by Trident

Stay on top of the ethanol industry with networking and best practices at the Team M3 conference! Join Trident to learn from industry insiders about how to improve your ethanol operations. The association of ethanol maintenance professionals meets twice a year for networking; breakout sessions, presentations and a vendor exposition. Trident will be on hand to share the most updated solutions to plant efficiency.

“This is a remarkable open forum between ethanol producers where plants share ideas and best practices to problem solve challenges,” said Jason Hurst, Trident’s CEO.

Trident representatives will be on hand to review the latest hardware and software to maximize DCS functionality. Top for the industry, replacing APACS systems by 2020 with upgrades and other DCS solutions. According to Hurst, Trident will continue to service the APACS product indefinitely, but system upgrades are in high demand. “Because we’re a Siemens Solution Partner, we actually have the experience to maintain the product instead of just selling parts,” Hurst said. “However we have several Siemens certified engineers that can replace an aging APACS DCS with the latest Siemens platform,” he said.

Trident has also experienced increase demand for the BMS First Out system—a module that identifies alarms and allows operators to quickly identify the source of an alarm, solve the issue, and get production back up and running.

To learn more about these Trident products and other industry issues, consider attending the Team M3 conference, August 14-16, 2018 held at the Westin Hotel in Westminster, Colorado. For more information, please visit: http://www.ethanolnetworks.com/team-m3-summer-conference-expo-sign-up/

Meet us at the Siemens Summit

Posted on by Trident

Join Trident Automation at the annual Siemens Summit, June 25-18 at Marco Island, Florida.  Leaders from Trident will present case studies pulled from real-life experiences showing how the latest control system technology at work. Trident will host two of 50 user-led presentations—we are a Siemens Solution Partner and have designed and integrated Siemens products for a wide range of customers.

SIMIT: Factory acceptance test, change management and training tool

Jeff Meneau, Controls Designer II

Jeff Meneau, Trident Automation Controls Designer II and certified PCS 7 engineer, will present a case study on how Trident used SMIT to reduce risk and increase efficiency. Trident projects often involve a full rip-and-replace of the legacy IO to PCS 7, new configuration, and subsequent training. In all situations, customers need to minimize production outage time, so SMIT has been used to test the system during factory acceptance testing, onboarding operators to the new system, and speeding up system commissioning.

“By running these sequences in a virtual ethanol plant environment, we are able to simulate flow, valve and pump operations, and test the system without ever leaving Trident’s offices,” Meneau said.

SIMIT has also been used as a troubleshooting tool. Learn how one customer called with a question about interlocks/sequencing, assuming they had a configuration error. By using SIMIT, Trident teams were able to show the configuration logic was working and, instead, isolated a problem in the field.

Design Considerations When Migrating to PCS 7 V9 with ET200SPHA

Nathan Nutter, Controls Designer II

Nathan Nutter, Trident Automation Controls Designer II and certified PCS 7 engineer, will present a case study on the design considerations, configuration approach and migrating a Trident customer from APACS+ to PCS 7 V9 with a distributed ET 200SP HA PROFINET architecture.

We will share best practices on our approach to the new IO series, IO card selection, termination and cabinetry design. We will also discuss the PROFINET network that includes both copper and fiber segments utilizing Scalance Switches for network communications.

“Newer doesn’t always mean better, but in the world of control system technology, even a few years of innovation can provide enhancements and improvements for plant operation,” Trident CEO Jason Hurst said.

During this session, Trident will discuss the role of the service bridge, considerations for network security, the use of software tools such as SIMATIC Topology Editor for the PROFINET network, and SIMIT for testing the configuration to help reduce project risk.

In addition to learning from Trident, attendees at the Siemens Summit will also be able to consult with Siemens representatives, technical experts, access free training, and review the latest products in the control systems marketplace. For more information, please visit https://www.industry.usa.siemens.com/automation/us/en/summit/pages/summit.aspx

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