ARC Strategy Forum navigates an industry in transition

By Mike Rhodes
Managing Editor

ORLANDO, Florida -- The ARC Strategy Forum opened Monday in Orlando, bringing together industry leaders to discuss how companies are beginning to move beyond the computer-enhanced business models of the late 20th century.

Many are embracing new models that take advantage of intelligent connected products coupled with potent software and analytics.  Sessions and discussions are focusing on innovations in smarter products, new service and operating models, new production techniques, and new approaches to design and sourcing.

The  Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Smart Manufacturing, Industrie 4.0, Digitization and Connected Enterprise are all concepts that are clearly moving past the hype stage to the point where real solutions are emerging, backed by strong associated business cases.

Sessions included a discussion of the challenges of the growing global lack of skilled automation professionals across industry. Working with the US Department of Labor, The Automation Federation has assisted in the development of automation, cybersecurity and engineering competency models to help build the next generation of industry professionals. 

The federation presented a discussion on how these models are becoming the tool that the academic community, industry and government are using to address this critical shortage of trained professionals.

Cybersecurity also continues to grow as a vital issue in the petrochemical and hydrocarbon processing industries (HPI). On Monday, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hosted a well-attended session that updated IT and automation senior staff and practitioners on the latest cybersecurity threats to the US critical infrastructure, as well as covering current cybersecurity challenges as they apply to control systems and how users can protect against potential attacks.

Specific topics included: the importance of protecting control systems from cyberattacks, and why they are susceptible; an understanding of the risks and potential consequences of attacks, and the common vulnerabilities in industrial control systems; system exposures to attacks, various attack scenarios and associated mitigation strategies; and control systems security program products and services available to asset owners.

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