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Taking industrial cybersecurity seriously

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

Steve Hanna, Co-Chair of the Industrial Work Group at Trusted Computing Group (TCG), US, describes how to protect the digital future of pipeline operations.

Across the energy sector, Internet of Things (IoT) equipment is helping drive a digital transformation. From the equipment used in oil and gas extraction, to the monitoring tools assessing an end user’s consumption, the entire supply chain is becoming more connected.

In particular, the use of industrial IoT (IIoT) is on the rise, with the market predicted to reach US$124 billion this year. This kind of connected equipment allows energy companies to provide and employ more sophisticated techniques such as data mining and deep learning – functions that the cloud can provide by performing analysis on data. While there are many practical benefits of implementing IIoT, industrial cybersecurity must be taken seriously to avoid significant consequences.

An enabler for innovation

IoT technologies that are enabled by lightweight sensors, cloud intelligence and greater connectivity offer many benefits to operators. For example, they offer the ability to tune the operation of their plant or facility to meet the needs of the moment, whether that is to support increased energy production, or to help create individualised products. Operators can also carry out predictive maintenance to recognise when a particular device or system is likely to fail and address it beforehand. This is more effective than preventative measure where you simply replace a piece of equipment every three years, just in case. Recognising the signs of early failure means operators don’t have to replace equipment so often which helps to reduce costs and increase uptime.

For pipeline infrastructure, many parameters can be tracked that may be early indicators of potential failure. Pressure is the most significant variable, but sensors of varying types such as magnetic, ultrasonic, and electromagnetic acoustic can be used to detect structural abnormalities before they become a problem. Acoustic sensors can be used to detect formation or growth of cracks, and electromagnetic sensors can be leveraged to detect corrosion or other flaws. With the help of IoT devices like remote terminal units (RTU) connected to sensors and data collectors along a length of pipeline, this data can be collected and analysed in real-time. Valves and other actuators can also be remotely controlled via IIoT connections, reducing the need for onsite visits.

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US pipeline news Digitilisation news Trends and analysis