Remote Access to Plant Equipment
The Organization for Machine Automation and Control (OMAC) is a global organization that supports the machine automation and operational needs of manufacturing. Realizing the importance of Remote Access to industrial machines, OMAC initiated a workgroup in September 2020 to create best practices for network-based Remote Access and data collection methods for industrial applications based on comprehensive research of existing technologies, deployed solutions, and emerging requirements in terms of security and privacy. This document is a summary of the workgroup’s findings and recommendations.
This essential guide details all aspects to consider for a successful implementation, including strategies and tactics to develop healthy information technology (IT)/operational technology (OT) working relationship and promote cybersecurity. The focus is on the OT requirements to establish a safe and secure connection while working within IT’s boundaries.
In summary, Remote Access will continue to evolve and play a more significant role in supporting manufacturing operations. By documenting the current state of best practices for Remote Access, OMAC has developed a reference point that can be used by OEMs, systems integrators, end-users, and automation suppliers to gauge where they stand with their current or planned Remote Access solutions. Involving various individuals from the automation ecosystem provides a broader outlook at this topic which balances the requirements of the user with the services of the supplier. This document can be consolidated into the following steps:
- Assess your current situation
- Ensure there is good IT/OT collaboration
- Develop a Remote Access plan
- Understand your industrial automation network architectures
- Create levels of security for individuals seeking Remote Access
- Establish a verification process that allows you to connect to the correct device• Implement and maintain cybersecurity throughout the process
Business Acumen for System Integration Companies
The Exotek BASIC Model covers the essential elements of a successful system integration business. For each element, we can help you implement proven approaches, best practices, and efficient processes, so you have ability and confidence to take concrete steps to equip your company for the future.
Working with Exotek and CSIA gave us the right input to cross the hurdles of a growing company. Identify some gaps and working on improvements was the big benefit for us, including comparison with the CSIA detailed best practices matrix/point system. You go through your entire company in detail and it opens your eyes when you do. We will continue the collaboration with Exotek and CSIA to even improve and get better in our challenging system integrator business.
The support, insight and vision offered by Exotek during the thorough audits provided an action plan for our improvements. We raised our quality approvals and standards, and achieved ‘partner’ status rather than ‘preferred supplier’ with a number of our major accounts. I would say that Exotek’s guidance has been instrumental in the changes that will transform our company, and to ensure that the growth is sustained.
Exotek engaged us with the CSIA audits and provided great guidance on Best Practices and helpful ideas on stabilizing our business model and organization. We adopted metrics for use in our Project approach and overall performance and our monthly reviews which he has consistently attended and helped with improvements in our use of review time.
We are living in a changing world with new realities that forces us to find new mechanisms to work even more efficiently. So we must re-align our strategies to reach our objectives. Since 2013, Gersa Monterrey has adopted CSIA Best Practices and trust it as a method to meet our organizational expectations. Being CSIA Certified positions our business for sustainability and growth. While we would have preferred an on-site audit, we chose a remote audit from Exotek given the current pandemic situation. It was as great an experience and appreciate this new approach for re-certification.
Using their depth of experience, Exotek turns the audit into a valuable consultative experience to guide our next steps in improving our business. Bringing an outside perspective from a deeply knowledgeable and respected third party, the audit gets at the truth of your company’s strengths and weaknesses, which must be the foundation for authentic improvement moving forward.
Polytron has a long-standing relationship with Exotek starting with our first certification audit in 2013, said Ron Rich, President of Polytron, “We continue to choose Exotek because of the great experience that we have had with them over the years, and more importantly, because they add value to our organization with each audit. In preparation for each audit, we focus on our processes and the involvement of a broad team. We strive to be a continuously learning organization, and we gain valuable knowledge in the audit that helps us to refine and improve our processes for our current and future business. Re-certification gives us a repeatable framework for benchmarking our business processes against the best practices for our industry.
Given Exotek’s stellar reputation and extensive experience working with other systems integrators, their audit gives us the best opportunity to utilize the shared knowledge of the entire CSIA community. Preparing for the audits is a driver for continuous improvement in our organization.
We value the CSIA Best Practices and Benchmarks as a guidebook to the best path to success for all that we do as a business. We have based
our continuous improvement program and many of our growth programs on them. The audit is a critical component of that plan as it sets a cadence to our outside review and insight that we are getting better and our improvements are being adopted within the company. The market and our business continues to evolve and continuing our re-certifications is
vital to us as a test and validation of improving our business so that we can ensure that we will be a thriving business most importantly for our people but also for our current and future customers. Exotek and specifically Brian Mullen, has conducted our audits over the +20 years and that helps in a couple of ways; Brian has already looked behind the curtain, knows manyof our people, our processes, and our culture so he can pinpoint our weaknesses and not only audit our processes but have deep conversations about our business needs.”
Outbound chose Exotek as their auditors due to their professionalism and experience. During our first audit as well as the recertification, it wasn’t just about passing a bar, it was finding ways that we could improve our internal processes even more. We don’t see recertification as the goal, it’s just the validation that our processes are sound and that they are followed. We look forward to our next recertification audit in three years.
We have been CSIA-certified since 2003, and this latest successful audit further demonstrates the effectiveness of our organization and our commitment to the highest standards of operations and providing the support our customers expect, matching the excellence of our products. Alongside our ISO 9001, ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 certifications, this latest accreditation will make it easier to choose Alfamation when high-quality automated functional & optical test systems are required.”
We have used Exotek as our CSIA auditing firm for each of the 8 audits. Brian is very knowledgeable with regards to all aspects of the business. Brian’s history with our organization provides the benefit of knowing where to focus (areas for improvement) versus sections where we are stronger as a company. The CSIA audits are one of the key feedback data points that drive our continuous improvement process. The input that Brian provides helps us focus our efforts to improving our standards, training, and procedures. As an organization we believe we are always striving to better the organization. It is also important to recognize that what may have worked 20 years ago doesn’t today. Similar to keeping up with new technology, businesses should continue to evaluate their processes. The CSIA benchmarks are a great reference point for any systems integrator.
Evaluating ourselves against the highest standards in our industry is key to providing the best service to our clients. Therefore, the CSIA Certification process is highly valuable, as is utilizing the best auditor.In choosing an auditor, we wanted to work with the firm that we, and many of our peers, consider to be the best – Exotek. From our first audit in 2012 through today, Exotek has provided the PDA team with the ‘how’ of achieving certification and the ‘why’. We have left each audit with actionable steps and a clear understanding of the continuous improvement to achieve our strategic vision – to be the source of knowledge on, and provision of, Automation and Digitalization solutions for the food and beverage industries.
The Exotek Team have been closely associated with our industry for well over a quarter century. Their analysis and feedback is invaluable. Even though we passed, there is always room for improvement and the audit is great at identifying those areas. As Peter Drucker pointed out, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.’ So, having Exotek perform a triennial audit is great way measuring yourself against the CSIA Best Practices and Benchmarks.
Don Roberts and Exotek provide so much more than the assessment. DMC is a better company because of our involvement with Exotek and Don’s consulting.
We decided on Exotek to be our auditing firm because the firm experience in the CSIA Certification and the quality of its Auditors. We have relied on Exotek since our first Audit in 2009. There are a myriad of benefits from being audited and reaudited. The most relevant are:
- Keeping up with the organizational evolution of the company.
- Improvement tips in every aspect of the organization.
- The benchmark with the top tier of integrators worldwide.
- Self-evaluate and identify improvement opportunities in our processes.
- Raising the bar and assess the evolution of our company every three years
We want to perform like the best companies in the world. While meeting ISO and Safety requirements are important, we are learning a lot from CSIA about the management of our system integration projects. By validating our capabilities against industry standards, we demonstrate our ability to deliver quality solutions in other countries. For us an audit is a continuous learning process, and Exotek has been part of it, bringing experience to improve our system. Thank you for all the time, you both take to help others getting better every day.
Automate has appreciated your collaboration during these months in getting the certification. Your assistance has made this process easier and your advice has been very helpful. I know that we are just at the beginning of this path and for sure we will be needing your support again.