A big responsibility
Energy, environment, securing the future main topics at ISA EXPO 2009
By Ellen Fussell Policastro
In times of crisis, it is important to keep our eye on the ball—and in this case, the ball is the state of our future. Taking care of the future is what ISA EXPO 2009 is all about. Making sure we have clean energy, and plenty of it, keeping our environment free of toxins, and knowing our manufacturing processes will continue free from malicious intent are all part of securing that future. The event is based on six exchanges that cover the vastness of automation from its processes, and how to integrate them, to conservation of energy and environment, as well as ensuring safe and secure plants, including wireless use. Keynoters will focus on these exchanges by sharing expertise in environmental issues, the nation’s plan for secure plants, and a manufacturing maintenance crisis that will involve participation from everyone to build the future of U.S. manufacturing.
“A hundred years ago, the nation was in turmoil because of monetary instability and continuing uncertainty.” After a historical monetary melee, with “panics, recessions, depressions, bank failures, and lack of trust in monetary stability, the notary problems were solved by taking money out of politics and giving authority to the Federal reserve bank to manage financial stability for the nation.” When it comes to solving the energy crisis, John Hofmeister said he believes we should take to a similar tack.
“We need to create a federal energy reserve board, which will be an independent regulatory agency to govern energy for the future.” Hofmeister, founder and chief executive of Citizens for Affordable Energy, will present his views during his keynote speech at the kickoff of ISA EXPO 2009, 6 October in Houston.
There is far too much “political hype” surrounding the energy crisis in the U.S., Hofmeister said. While supporters at the 2008 Republican Convention shouted “Drill, baby, drill,” those at the Democratic Convention chanted, “No more coal!” Neither set of solutions is feasible for the future of our energy supplies, he said. The former president of Shell Oil Company thinks we should be demanding more, and he will explain why increases in four critical areas (energy, technology, environmental protection, and infrastructure) called “The 4 Mores,” will ultimately lead to clean, abundant, and affordable energy. These are the building blocks of a grassroots effort to educate citizens and government officials about affordable energy solutions, environmental protection, energy alternatives, efficiency, infrastructure, public policy, competitiveness, social cohesion, and quality of life.
“What has happened in our dialog on energy as a nation is we have let political determinations set the agenda rather than practical solutions,” Hofmeister said. “Unfortunately the energy industry has done a poor job of communicating its reality to the American people. They have left the space to idealogues who look at their favorite solutions. More energy from all sources means a practical combination of all sources for energy because the future of the country will need all those sources. It means hydrocarbons remain important for decades to come. While we learn our way forward with alternative forms of energy such as wind, solar, biofuels, and hydrogen, the focus on future supplies, if it is not addressed to all forms of energy, will do great harm to the American supply side—there won’t be enough energy to go around.”
The real mission of Hofmeister’s presentation is to emphasize the importance of grassroots education for all Americans, “for their own sake so they don’t get dragged from one side to the other by what’s popular today,” he said. Instead, Hofmeister wants to build a fundamental understanding of why it is necessary to deal with this holistically. “We need a short term, medium-term, and long-term set of solutions. We cannot get short-, medium-, and long-term through the political process because it works in two-year and four-year time segments,” he said. “We cannot disrupt the forward investments in energy because of two-year or four-year election cycles.”
The answer, he believes, is to educate Americans to determine what is ultimately needed—“a major intervention at the Federal level to move energy out of politics, which will only happen when grassroots America demands it.” Hofmeister plans to offer a specific way forward.
Securing control systems a national priority
In May, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to make securing the Nation’s vital digital systems more secure stating, “Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy, and resilient.”
On Wednesday, 7 October, Sean McGurk, director for the Control Systems Security Program from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will talk about securing the Nation’s industrial control systems infrastructure.
As McGurk testified before members of Congress, each of these vulnerabilities are applicable to other sectors. “As most people know, in the control space, these components and devices are used throughout the industry, in energy generation, and distribution. One of the main landscape issues is the common vulnerability pattern is permeating critical infrastructures, which leads to a cascading effect; something that begins in a water facility may impact a chemical facility and subsequently an electrical facility.”
One example of this cascade effect is when there is hardware vulnerability with a PLC, that PLC may be used in a water treatment facility, a chemical, and a power distribution facility. “The fact these devices are used in all sectors allows a malicious actor to exploit a single vulnerability and have impact on multiple sectors,” he said. That is why industrial control and automation space is so important as well as “recognizing security activities for continuing operations of all our critical infrastructures.”
Several recent studies have shown the effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP), McGurk said. “Whether the EMP is generated from a malicious act through detonation of a nuclear device or through radio frequency interference or through a geomagnetic event such as solar wind, increased solar activity generates large magnetic particles, which have resulted in blackouts in the past,” he said.
McGurk referred to on major instance of industry’s responsiveness to cyber vulnerabilities. During the Aurora experiment in 2007, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Idaho lab launched an experimental cyber attack, demonstrating the capability to take a digital protective relay and create a condition that physically damaged a generator. “That is always one of the areas we’re concerned about,” McGurk said. “When we look at vulnerabilities like that, it is almost essential to involve industry in developing solutions and think about how all this equipment is integrated. At the plant level, there is no one size fits all. When we develop these mitigation strategies, DHS reaches out to all 18 critical infrastructures to make sure we’re developing mitigation to address the real problem. All the industry sectors we deal with are receptive and cooperative in developing these strategies. They understand the importance.”
The national infrastructure protection plan divides the structures throughout the U.S. into categories such as energy (electricity, oil, natural gas), water, critical manufacturing, and commercial facilities (aquariums, zoos). “We designated national monuments and icons, museums, the Statue of Liberty, and of course, financial services,” he said. “We look across the board at these key elements of our day-to-day operation to figure out how we can identify those unique characteristics and work with owners and operators to secure them.”
Secure cyber communications
Because many of our critical industrial control systems are interconnected with the corporate networks that run them, there is an inherent vulnerability in that architecture. That, coupled with legacy digital control devices and systems that were not designed with network security in mind, leaves many of our critical infrastructures at risk of remote cyber attack that can degrade, corrupt, or disable the processes upon which our economy and public safety depend.
A featured speaker on 7 October, Greg Garcia, from Garcia Strategies and former assistant secretary for Cyber Security and Communications for the U.S. DDHS, will offer his insight on strategies in industrial security.
All industries that use digital control systems that are run over an IP network are vulnerable, Garcia said. “Some are waking up to the vulnerabilities and making appropriate investments in vulnerability assessments and mitigation, and others remain asleep at the switch or are burying their heads in the sand.”
Garcia’s strategy is customer-driven. “The customers of the utilities and other critical infrastructures are businesses, governments, and consumers. Their growth, services, products, and safety are dependent on secure infrastructures, and they must demand security from their providers,” he said. “The providers in turn must demand more secure solutions from their device and service vendors. This can be a virtuous cycle.”
Cyber security responsibilities for manufacturers will change in the next five years in two ways. First, “as more vulnerabilities, threats, and attacks become apparent, there will be more sophisticated approaches to secure manufacturing and critical process control through secure technologies and practices,” he said. Second, “companies will, with the government and large business customer driving behavior, pay more attention to the security of the global supply chain.”
Garcia said at any point along the supply chain, malicious adversaries or even insiders can implant vulnerabilities or “backdoors” in software or hardware, “causing a networked product to ‘phone home’ to an adversary or to degrade the network or systems where it resides,” he said. “Securing this supply chain will require rigorous standards of practice that are only now beginning to evolve.”
Jonathan Pollet will host live demonstrations between teams in hacking and defending industrial wireless systems in his tutorial session. This live demonstration involves a moderated wireless battle between those who will be tasked with breaking the wireless systems (the Red Team), and those tasked with the responsibility of defending the wireless systems (the Blue Team). This session will give attendees the chance to learn techniques about breaking and defending wireless systems, as well as ask questions from the experts.
Bryan Singer, principal consultant at Kenexis Consulting Corp. in Pelham, Ala., will host the Industrial Security Lounge on the EXPO floor, where attendees can share their experiences with other presenters and industry leaders, who deal with the everyday challenges of protecting industrial processes against cyber security threats. Industry notables available to discuss problems include Greg Garcia, former Cyber Czar to President George W. Bush, and Sean McGurk, program manager for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Control Systems Security Program. Other experienced professionals include owners and leaders from standards and regulatory efforts.
With no one to fix broken pipes, frayed wires, aging equipment, and few who understand how to support modern automation technologies, nations are finding themselves in what Joel Leonard has coined, “The Maintenance Crisis.”
On Thursday, 8 October, Leonard, a maintenance evangelist, will present the Rimbach lecture, giving his views on how the crisis is affecting manufacturing and what we need to do about it.
The average age of hundreds of thousands of maintenance people across the globe is 48. Many of the boomer generation have started to retire, leaving empty maintenance positions unfilled. Companies are facing a challenge in finding qualified workers to fill these vacancies. “We wonder why we don’t have things that work right; kids look down their noses at the profession,” he said.
A maintenance technician is a catch-all term that encompasses mechanical, electrical, electronic, technicians, people that ensure reliability, performance, and capacity production of our machines. “We can’t run our businesses as if they are disposable razors. We can’t have people who are just good with their hands doing this work either. We need people who are skilled, who can make long-term decisions,” he said.
“If we build a surplus of these people—electricians, pipe fitters, plumbers—we could hire them at $20 an hour as opposed to the $30 and $40 an hour it takes to find them and have people willing to work 2nd and 3rd shifts. It’s critical for people to embrace the maintenance function and not look down their noses at it. I’m driving the impact learning center. We just created a mentorship program; we took a bus boy from Cracker Barrel and turned him into a multi-craft technician. He was making $8 an hour, and now he’s interviewing for $15 an hour.
“We want to bring more women in the field and be more proactive. Get people to realize maintenance is not janitorial, or landscaping. We think we’re concerned about Chinese taking our jobs? Well, all countries are concerned. Holland is doing something about it. They’re mimicking Silicon Valley, but they’re calling it Maintenance Valley. They’re trying to build a surplus of maintenance technicians. There are a few success stories. A guy came in from the Navy. His resume was not adapted to facilities. But when you’re running a ship, you’re running a building. He couldn’t get a job. He got a certified plant maintenance manager. Got a job in a couple of months. Volunteered to serve as an officer in a trade organization. In the process, he got connected locally and by being president of chapter, the national and regional office was sending him job orders. The word got out in his company. They got scared, and gave him a $15K raise. There are people in this area who make six figures in maintenance functions. The equipment requires someone who’s careful, with attention to details, not a Superman who waits for something to break and comes in and saves the day, but someone there all the time, paying attention, and in tune to pneumatic systems, electronic, and hydraulic systems. We need somebody to develop antennae. Women are needed in all engineering disciplines. This is a national security issue; it’s not just an economic or profitability issue. We’ve got nuclear power plants with 40% of our workforce getting ready to retire. How safe does that make you feel?”
SOURCE: Joel Leonard on the air at www.plantservices.com/skilltv.
Nobody wants to work in the boiler rooms,
—Joel Leonard (www.plantservices.com/skilltv)
InTech gives Innovator Awards
On Thursday, 8 October, ISA EXPO 2009 will recognize significant contributions to any field in the automation profession during the first InTech Innovator Awards. Fields include design, development, and construction of tools, equipment, technical services, instrumentation, and an innovative service made by an individual, organization, or company. InTech editors and an independent committee comprised of industry professionals will select gold, silver, and bronze award winners.
Young people rock
Leading industrial companies, ISA members, and leaders will be on hand again this year to discuss career opportunities at YAPFEST. This annual event celebrates the automation profession by hosting a networking opportunity for students and professionals (ages 18-30) who want learn more about the benefits of a career in automation and how they can make a difference in the automation world. Professionals across the industry will give advice on interviewing, so do not forget your resume.
Middle and high-school students can even get in on the automation scene at IAU2M8.09, a program that introduces the concept of automation to middle and high-school students and provides examples of the career choices available to them if they choose a future in automation.
Automation Career Connection will enlighten the next generation of automation professionals about exciting careers in automation. Automation Career Connection is designed to bring young automation professionals, college students, and middle and high-school students together with real automation professionals. Attendees will see live exhibits, hear speeches about vibrant jobs in automation, and take part in games and other interactive activities related to automation.
The 1st Undergraduate Student Research Conference is a pilot program giving two students each from three schools the opportunity to present papers at ISA EXPO on 6 October.
Programming committee co-chairs Gerald W. Cockrell, Nelson Ninin, and Kim Miller Dunn worked with university advisors Mary Canon and Alexander Bobovitch to guide the student authors on their research projects. Student participants will receive an ISA certificate along with the chance to present their papers at EXPO and gain not only experience in presentation, but exposure to their work and the automation community. All abstracts will see publication in the 2010 Proceedings of the UNESCO Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Participating colleges include Instituto Tecnologico Superior de Tantoyuca, Veracruz, Mexico; Lee College, Baytown, Tex.; and St. Petersburg State University of Aerospace Instrumentation, St. Petersburg, Russia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ellen Fussell Policastro is the associate editor of InTech. Her e-mail is email@example.com.