When you are talking about control and automation, you are really talking about industrial control systems used in industrial production. Some of these control and automation systems may include data acquisition systems and distributed control systems. It may also refer to smaller control systems like programmable logic controllers which are found in critical infrastructures and industrial sectors.
You can find industrial control systems in a wide range of industries today which include but are not limited to the electrical industry, the water industry, the oil industry, the gas industry, and even the data industry. Industrial control systems can also be used in remote station control devices which are also known as field devices which control the opening and closing of valves and breakers; they collect data from sensor systems and they monitor their local environments conditions.
There is no denying that control systems have evolved and changed quite drastically over the decades. They came to be after a slow merging process between three older systems to make things simple and easy to use and understand. The first system is called distributed control system which was used in many industries including plant, oil, gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, water, pulp, paper, mining, and power. This system is basically used to gather data and control the system on a large scale all in real time.
The next system is a programmable logic controller which became to be after a need to replace racks of relays in ladder form. Before this system, it was not reliable, it was difficult to fix and rewire, and difficult to find where a flaw was coming from. The next is called a SCADA system which is mainly used for power, gas, and water to gather remote data from sites that are far apart which all get sent back to the main control center. With industrial control systems, the limits of these previous systems have been removed.
If you work in an industry where a control and automation system is used, you will need to have a control system security which will prevent any intentional or unintentional interference with operations. The risks of working without control system security can include safety, environmental problems, lost production, equipment damage, information theft, and it can damage the manufacturer’s or company’s image. We all know how many components industrial control systems are connected to including electricity, production, water, transportation, manufacturing, and communications and they all have their own computers, networks, and operating systems which can all be at risk from cyber attacks. So if you are planning to use industrial control systems, make sure you have some sort of security in place.