Internet and Industry


Thread Starter


Dear members of the list

I wish to know with facts (charts, diagramms, statistics) how many Industries are using Internet for their production control. Where can I find any clues about the penetration of the Internet (WWW, E-mails , FTP) in Industrial activity?

Jake Brodsky

First, keep in mind that many folks reading this site are engineers. As an engineer, I don't respond well to fuzzy concepts such as "penetration." I have no charts, diagrams or statistics to show a fuzzy concept like that.

So I'll put on my manager hat and speak platitudes and generalities:

1) Internet standards are finding their way in to industrial processes more and more. However the Internet itself is not so common. This is a security issue. Control systems are typically designed with performance and reliability first, security and access control second. Anyone exposing a system designed to those sorts of specifications on the internet doesn't sleep very well at night. Internet access doesn't happen unless there is a burning need to include it.

The folks doing this sort of thing are either very talented and experienced, or raving lunatics who have no idea what the risks are.

2) Industrial applications tend to lag behind the computer world by at least a half of a product generation life cycle. This is because industrial engineering tasks strongly prefer not to use imature products. The problems it could create if something goes wrong are not just academic.

3) Yes, they use common office computer hardware and software --but only because it's inexpensive and mass produced on such a scale that most bugs are usually worked out of the products. It's not uncommon to see ordinary internet switches and routers in SCADA applications.

4) TCP/UDP/IP are commonly used on the plant floor for gathering data from various PLC and DCS systems. It's not often used for raw I/O, however.

5) There are a few instruments and motor controls out there with HTTP access. These devices generally assume that anyone accessing them is on an exclusive LAN where everyone is trusted.

There. Those are my plattitudes for today. I'm sure there are many others, but this hurts my head :)