Moxa helps oil and gas customers to capitalise on the benefits of IIoT

sukhdev 3Sever Sudakov, Moxa Senior Field Engineer, was demonstrating Moxa IIoT and cybersecurity solutions for the oil and gas applications at ADIPEC 2018. (Image source: Moxa)Taiwan-based industrial communications solutions provider Moxa is helping oil and gas customers to capitalise on the benefits of Industrial IoT without breaking the bank

A leading provider of edge connectivity, industrial computing, and network infrastructure solutions for enabling connectivity for the Industrial Internet of Things, (IIoT), Moxa has connected more than 50 million devices worldwide, with customers in more than 70 countries.

Speaking exclusively to Oil Review Middle East at ADIPEC, Sever Sudakov, the company’s Senior Field Application Engineer, explains, “IoT or IIoT is not a revolution, it’s more of an evolution. What this concept is trying to leverage is those IT technologies that can be applied to operational technologies. So it’s a symbiosis of IT and OT. As a communications vendor, we see that connectivity demand is up, the amount of traffic going from the field to the control centre and to the cloud is increasing, and therefore new technologies need to be applied.”

“By having that data in the cloud, higher volumes and more comprehensive data can be stored. IT specialists in machine learning and AI can apply algorithms to this data and figure out improvement points to increase the overall efficiency of the business.”

“Currently the most popular applications for IIoT are remote monitoring (a more advanced version of what we had before), and predictive maintenance.”

The oil and gas industry, which generates a huge amount of data, stands to benefit significantly from IIoT given the high number of remote sites and distributed systems involved.

One of the main challenges companies face in adopting IIoT technologies is the investment cost, says Sudakov. This is where Moxa comes in.

“Our mission and strategy, as the roll-out of new technologies can be very costly, is to leverage customers’ existing equipment, legacy OT controllers and RTUs, obtain the data from that existing equipment using old-style protocols, and bring that data into the cloud,” he explains.

“Our particular solution, which focuses on industrial applications, is Industrial IoT gateway, a ready-to-run solution that can gather data from the fieldbus legacy devices and existing automation infrastructure, and convert it into a format suitable for the cloud. We support popular cloud platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS, as well as any kind of other provider cloud or private cloud, with the help of the MQTT protocol.

“We also have a wide range of I/O devices that enable connectivity to the sensors, and these I/O devices are also IoT-oriented, which means that we support IT technologies like SNMP and RESTful API. So integration of our devices into IoT systems is very easy.

“We provide an edge to cloud comprehensive industrial Ethernet solution, which means we have a full range of Ethernet switches for industrial applications,” he adds.

Mitigating Cyber Security Risks

Another concern is cybersecurity. “We pay a lot of attention to cybersecurity, and design all of our devices to comply to IEC 62443 standard,” stresses Sudakov.

“Cybersecurity is a concern when it comes to connecting any kind of industrial equipment to public networks. It starts with a global approach – you can’t just buy a magical device which makes the whole system secure. You need to address security on all levels; ideally, the customer follows the recommendation of a standard, which specifies that components should have certain features, the system should be built in a certain way, using certain types of software and other appliances that will boost cybersecurity. It involves a multilayered approach, and we do our best to provide this with the products and tools that can help build a cyber-secure system.

“We perform all data communications with encryption using standard technologies like TLS and Open VPN. Our software can assess the level of security in the network and visualise the network status, including the security status, and help to fix any security lapses very quickly.”

Another challenge in adopting IIoT technologies is more business related. “Most IoT projects are still at the proof of concept stage, often with no clear financial evidence of its efficiency. This issue needs to be addressed by a good consulting service. To perform this, we rely on our partners around the world who implement the IIoT systems.”

Moxa’s communications solutions have been used in a variety of oil and gas applications globally, ranging from natural gas wellhead monitoring and pipeline monitoring to power distribution and connecting fracturing trucks. One of the company’s success stories involved an artificial lift monitoring system. “The customer used our IIoT gateway to collect additional data from the artificial lift monitoring system, such as pressure and other physical parameters, which is transferred to the cloud database. The customer is able to undertake predictive maintenance based on that data and the application of machine learning algorithms.”

At ADIPEC, Moxa demonstrated its in-depth cyber security and IoT connectivity (IIoT gateway) solutions. “To demonstrate in-depth cybersecurity, we built a small version of an industrial backbone network, and we demonstrate our software which visualises this network so customers can see the network status in action and can see that event on the screen immediately,” says Sudakov. “We show how these network devices should be configured to comply with the IEC standard. That can all be done through our software.”

“On the edge level, with this network, we have connected the demonstration of the IoT system, so we simulate wellhead monitoring using an existing wellhead monitoring system. In addition to that existing system, we add our IIoT gateway, which collects data from the wellhead system and sends it through the Internet directly to the cloud. The cloud we are using in this demonstration is Microsoft Azure, so the customer can see not only the gateway but also the dashboard solution based on Microsoft Azure cloud.”

The oil and gas industry across the globe is beginning to leverage digital technologies such as big data analysis, IIoT, AI…etc, to make organizations more competitive and agile. With over 30 years of industry expertise in industrial networking, Moxa assists customers in adopting digital transformation with reliable and smart connectivity solutions to obtain the benefit of optimised operational efficiency and maintenance cost reducing.

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