It is no longer impossible to keep an eye on every aspect of production from the plant floor to the control room
In a Connected Enterprise, paper processes are replaced with digital processes, which has been improving people productivity and enhancing visibility to production events.
But, as access to data and applications becomes easier, how can manufacturers help ensure safety and security of the operation system and data?
While helping safeguard every piece of the information, ThinManager® software solution and Relevance® mobile platform from Rockwell Automation provide manufacturing and industrial leaders with visual displays and software solutions to manage information and streamline workflows for a more connected manufacturing environment.
ThinManager® provides management and control of thin client and mobile devices, and helps enable secure delivery of applications to devices and users of those devices.
Relevance® is a core technology component of ThinManager® that enables delivery to be further managed by enabling location awareness.
Using Relevance®, in conjunction with “location resolvers,” applications and information can be securely delivered to a user when that user is in a specific location.
This leads to improved reliability, productivity and security as well as helping to lower energy and maintenance costs.
Leading global manufacturers implementing technology upgrades to meet their cybersecurity and sustainability goals agree that virtualization, thin client and mobility related technologies are key enablers in their operations.
Reducing maintenance costs and unplanned downtime are key initiatives for many companies.
When operating and maintaining several work sites, it can be challenging to efficiently utilize technical staffs whose skill levels are typically not similar at all sites, while ensuring all sites are running well.
But there is always a solution to every problem.
ThinManager® centralizes the management and visualization of content to every facet of a modern manufacturing operation, from the control room to the users in the plant.
For example, when ThinManager® technology is applied at work sites from a central location, maintenance or other technical teams can then view the operations at each of the sites and access the engineering tools installed there.
Moreover, experienced central staff can assist a site technician by “shadowing” his or her terminal, which will help improve the people skills at the site as they learn on the job.
Customers using ThinManager® have seen improved reliability and people productivity.
ThinManager® was designed from the start as an automation-centric product that works with applications from all vendors. It delivers quantifiable savings in several areas of an automation architecture:
- Reliability: Thin clients have an expected life endurance of 7-10+ years, compared to 3-5 for a PC. Replacing a thin client managed by ThinManager® is accomplished in a few minutes as compared to several hours of downtime in the case of a PC. Not to mention the loss of data, which could mean scrapped batches as well as re-validation costs in a regulated industry.
- Availability: ThinManager® includes the capability to configure failover management, automatically using backup application servers or network routes on failure of a primary component.
- Energy: Thin clients use about 20 percent of the power of a PC. Additional savings stem from cooling and UPS requirements being reduced.
- Operation management and control: A centralized control and management means faster and easier maintenance. Without stopping the applications, thin clients can be reconfigured from a central administration console, easing migration of production applications with minimal impact to production operations. Also, service updates to servers can be done during normal operation hours and typically on a few servers instead of each PC.
How it Works
It is feasible to go mobile with ThinManager®'s built-in mobility solution, Relevance® — the only location-based mobile management platform that allows applications and content to be securely delivered to specific locations within the facility and nowhere else.
ThinManager® combines remote desktop servers, virtualization, thin client, networks and security technologies into a powerful platform that delivers flexibility for managing and delivering production applications.
Together, they safely and securely transfer the content to any combination of device, user and location.
Relevance® for Mobility
The time for enhancing mobility on the plant floor has arrived. Relevance® provides the ability to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time and place with location-based content delivery.
Used in conjunction with Relevance®, resolvers allow a workspace to be defined completely as a location-based mobile facility.
Currently, ThinManager® uses the QR codes, Bluetooth beacons, Wi-Fi and GPS to resolve a location to confirm that mobile users and devices only receive content in authorized areas.
First Priority: Security
To tackle with cyber threat, designing for security is very important, but the design also needs to cater to the priorities of OT systems personnel.
In addition to the standard solutions available today, there are collaborations between leading organizations in the field to provide network and security consulting services to customers that helps to combine the OT experience and IT.
By using modern IT technologies such as virtualization, terminal services and thin clients along with ThinManager®, even as the work sites are opened to remote access, security will be protected and improved; at the same time, maintenance costs and system downtime will be reduced.
ThinManager® works with Microsoft Active Directory and supports several authentication methods at the thin client, including the use of biometrics and RFID access cards.
Additionally, the communications between thin client and ThinManager® server are encrypted. The thin client terminals are managed by ThinManager®; all communication between clients and servers, including mobile device communication, is encrypted to help ensure the automation network is available only to authorized users.
No data is stored on ThinManager®-ready thin clients, PXE-boot thin clients or on mobile devices using Relevance®.
Any use of an external storage device such as USB memory sticks is blocked by default.
Furthermore, by supporting IP and USB camera overlays into any existing applications, ThinManager® brings visual confirmation to any working screens.
A Complete Solution
ThinManager® is an easy-to-use, centralized and scalable management platform, addressing manufacturers’ needs to increase global competitiveness: improving productivity, visualization, mobility and security – and delivering on The Connected Enterprise, a vision for smart, safe and sustainable manufacturing.