Controlling Industrial Processes Remotely and Securely

Take Control Wherever You Are With Ignition

62 min video  /  53 minute read View slides


Don Pearson

Chief Strategy Officer

Inductive Automation

Kevin McClusky

Co-Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

David Hostetter

Regional Manager (Eastern US)

SCS RMC (Remote Monitoring and Controls)

Janne Heinonen



In the wake of COVID-19, the ability to remotely access and control critical processes is not only recommended for industrial organizations — it has become absolutely essential. The Ignition platform makes it easy to set up remote control on any system; however, you should take the proper steps to keep your process safe from threats.

In this timely webinar, experts from Inductive Automation and the Ignition community will show you why Ignition is such a powerful platform for remote process control solutions, and they’ll share best practices for getting the most out of it.

  • Check out real-world examples
  • Hear best practices for security
  • Learn how remote process control is used at different levels
  • See a live demo in Ignition

Webinar Transcript

Don: Morning everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, “Controlling Industrial Processes Remotely and Securely — Take Control Wherever You Are With Ignition.” Thanks everyone for being here today. My name is Don Pearson, I'm Chief Strategy Officer with Inductive Automation, and I'm gonna serve as the moderator for today's webinar. Just a quick look at the agenda. I'll introduce our agenda for the next hour now, and then I'll introduce the Ignition software platform, and today's speakers. We'll give a quick overview of remote process control and why it's so important for industrial organizations right now. And we'll talk about using Ignition for remote process control. We'll talk about some security practices and commonly used system architectures for remote solutions. Then our guest panelists will share some real world use cases, as well as a few tips, then we'll show you a live demo in Ignition and we'll finish up by answering your questions.

Don: Most of you are probably familiar with it, those who are not, our Ignition software platform turned 10 years old this year. It's used by 54% of Fortune 100 companies, about 30-31% of Fortune 500, and customers like using Ignition because it provides a universal industrial application platform for them to use for their HMI, SCADA, MES and IoT solutions. Some bullet points are on the slides here of what differentiates it. It's unlimited licensing model, cross-platform compatibility, IT standard technologies, and of course, a scalable server-client architecture, web-based, web-managed, web-deployed designer and clients. It's got modular configurability, so you really just get the modules you need as you need them and scale and add when you need to, and rapid development and deployment tools. If you are new to Ignition, you can certainly know more about it by going to

Don: With that as a brief introduction, today we're talking about remote process control. It can be defined as a process or a system of controlling a facility or operation to full or partial automation. I wanna first give us a chance to meet our speakers for today and our guests. Kevin McCluskey is the Co-Director of Sales Engineering here at Inductive Automation. He's my co-presenter on the webinar today. David Hostetter is a guest panelist today, and David is the Regional Manager East of the Mississippi for the remote monitoring and controls group at SCS Engineers, which is an environmental consulting and contracting firm headquartered in California, with locations across the United States. SCS also, I might note, is an Ignition premiere certified integrate. It's also great to have as a panelist today, Janne Heinonen from Enermix. And he's also gonna be speaking and we're very pleased to have him come, and I think it's a little bit late where you are there, Janne, but thanks for being with us today. With that, I would like to ask Kevin, David and Janne to take a little time and maybe take a minute and give us a little more insight into your company, your role, anything you wanna share about yourself, give a little better introduction than I do before we get started. Kevin, I do know you fairly well, but let's start with your introduction.

Kevin: Sure, sounds good. So, my name is Kevin McCluskey. You may have heard me on one of these webinars before in the past, or in a number of other Inductive Automation events. I've been with the company for about 11 years now, and before that I was working with integration, so I actually came from an integration background before coming over to Inductive Automation. In terms of my role on today's webinar, I'll be showing off a few things, talking from a technical standpoint with Ignition and answering technical questions at the end as well. So if you have questions that are fairly technical in nature, that's part of why I'm here, and I love talking about these things. So that's a quick intro from my side. Thanks, Don.

Don: Thanks. Thanks, Kevin. David?

David: Hi, Don. I'm Dave Hostetter with SCS Engineers. SCS Engineers is a large solid waste and environmental consulting and contracting company. The lot of the work that we do is related to landfills and landfill gas engineering. My role within the company is to basically help grow and manage our SCS remote monitoring controls group across the United States. So, really what our group does is we try to listen to our clients' needs and then look to leverage technology to meet those needs. Many times, the solutions that we provide are centered around providing our SCS RMC Ignition cloud-based platform to our clients to help them provide remote monitoring control equipment and capabilities for their facilities and equipment.

Don: Thanks, David. Thanks again for being here too. Janne?

Janne: My name is Janne Heinonen and I'm from Finland, Nordic Europe, from Enermix. And what we are actually doing is we are developing this kind of building management system on top of our using the Ignition platform. We call it Talotohtori. What we are telling our customers that we offer them is a hardware-independent system solution on this, our platform, that they can easily connect their building automation systems and also IoT servers, sensors, and then provide a wide range of services with the single user experience. So this is the promise we tell our customer and we have been doing this now almost 10 years, and the last five years using the Ignition platform for doing this. My own background is actually from the software area. I used to be in the Nokia mobile phones business for 20 years before starting to run this company about 10 years ago.

Don: Janne, thank you. Totally appreciate you taking the time to be with us here also. So remote process control. Often you hear people talk about remote monitoring and control, and although the two terms are often used together, when you think of remote monitoring and you think of remote control, they're actually separate things, each with their own set of considerations. We actually did present a webinar in April that focused on remote monitoring. This is a follow-up to that webinar and we'll be focusing on remote process control here. You can also catch that webinar if you want to, 'cause we have it as an archive. As we said in the April webinar, remote monitoring gives you the ability to check on the process that's happening in your facility, such as the plant floor, and get instant access to information without needing to physically be there. With remote process control, you're adding the ability to take action based on what you learn through your remote monitoring. For example, an operator or a manager can check on the temperature of the warehouse from their home and turn the temperature up or down if necessary.

Don: Additionally, remote monitoring and control provides benefits that are not just nice to have, if you will, they're very important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies are striving as best they possibly can to keep their operations running, their costs low, and keep their workers safe. Remote process control helps you reduce the number of personnel who need to be on site. For instance, you can handle most issues remotely and only send someone out to the plant when it's absolutely necessary. If you're managing an operation that's spread out over a large area, you can reduce or eliminate the need to send people out to do manual control or maintenance, and these abilities reduce operational costs, improve worker safety, enable quicker response times, and reduce the need for travel, and just generally make work more convenient for everyone who's involved in it. Many experts agree that COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for remote operations and that this trend is here, and it's here to stay.

Don: Recently, on an Inductive Automation podcast, I had an opportunity to interview Craig Resnick, and Craig's the VP of Consulting for the ARC Advisory Group, and it's one of the leading tech research and advisory firms in the industrial sector. Craig told me on that podcast that before COVID-19, a lot of manufacturers said they never allowed remote access of their control systems or plant floor assets, because of cybersecurity concerns. But the pandemic hit and the pandemic caused them to make the choice between not operating their plants or operating them remotely and taking some of the potential risks. Craig said that's why a lot of companies that were resistant to remote access are now doing it, and they're working more closely with their suppliers and with cybersecurity companies to do it securely. ARC sees these practices as the new normal going forward, even after the pandemic. At Inductive Automation, we see that's happening as well. So panelists, I just think at least as a start here, before I actually hand it off to Kevin, let me go through each of you just to hear your perspective about this. Do you think that remote monitoring and control is becoming the new normal, as Craig may be alluding to, or what opportunities are presented by that change? So maybe I'll start with you, Kevin. Give your thoughts.

Kevin: Sure, sure. So I work with a lot of different integrators and end users, and I have seen that same type of trend in a very real way from folks who I work with on a regular basis, where maybe it started out where there was simply remote status that was needed or remote monitoring. And then over the last few months, it's evolved into being able to really run from a remote location without needing boots on the ground, so to speak. And then going forward, they've put things in place now, a lot of these companies where they can continue to operate in this way, even after everything returns to whatever the new normal looks like here, so I definitely have seen a trend in that direction.

Don: Thanks, Kevin. How about your thoughts, David?

David: Yeah, we've been providing services like this for probably the last seven or eight years, and business has continued to grow over that time period, but we definitely have seen an uptick, both in interest in the technology in general, and in business for us since the pandemic has hit. And one thing I wanted to add to your slide earlier was talking about the benefits of these types of systems; two things that we've really seen is, one, that you can see a reduction in environmental risk with these systems if it's implemented on an environmental system. Because it really gets at the fact that you're being alerted when there's an issue, and then you're able to take action on it as well.

David: So one of the examples that I like to give is that with a pump station or a tank, having a high level in that pump station or tank isn't necessarily an issue in and of itself, but if you let that high level turn into an overflowing pump station or tank, it really does become an issue. So having the ability to control the system and either shut off the inflow or turn on the pump to pump it down can really reduce your environmental risk. And then the second thing that we really use these systems a lot for is remote troubleshooting that even just today, we've had guys working here. I sit in Pennsylvania, we've had some of our staff working on systems from California to Tennessee to Florida to California, and that's not atypical at all, that once we get these remote monitoring control systems set up, we really start to be able to use them to provide additional benefits such as troubleshooting things when they go wrong.

Don: That's actually great, David. So I went back to this slide so everyone could note, add a couple of bullet points here from what David said. Good points. Now let's go to Janne, your thoughts.

Janne: Yeah, in the building side where we are working, this kind of remote access has been a constantly increasing kind of thing here in Finland, where we are working mainly. Ten Years ago when we actually made our first remote access to a heat pump, 2010, most of the heat pump manufacturers didn't have any remote capabilities. So we actually started needing to invent the first solution back then, and nowadays, it's pretty much a common thing here, in Finland at least, that when you buy a heat pump, you have a remote access capability there. It's also a fact that most of these remote access capabilities are provided by the manufacturer of the heat pump or some other device, and there are very many different solutions on the market. And I guess with this kind of independent platform, we can offer them one user experience to remotely access all the systems they have and having and keeping the same user experience. And I think that's a big added value for them, it will reduce their maintenance cost and operational cost. And they don't have to study and learn many different user interfaces to do pretty much the same thing in different buildings.

Don: That's great, thank you. Thanks to all for opening comments. It sounds like we've got a lot of territory to cover, so I think it probably makes sense now, with that in mind, that we take time to make sure that you are all set up for remote monitoring control and that you're doing it in the most secure way possible. So Kevin, you said in your introduction that you don't mind getting technical, as deep or as far as people wanna go, so to delve into more technical aspects of this subject, I'm gonna turn it over to you, Kevin.

Kevin: Thanks, Don. I'll go ahead and cover some of the subjects at a bit of a high level and then go a little bit deeper. So I'll start by identifying the two main levels where remote process control systems are used. The first and the most common type are systems that are used to control an individual plant or a site. These kinds of systems are basically like a remote HMI or SCADA or a remote replacement for that plant floor control. So they tend to be set up as if you were on the plant floor. The second type are higher level systems that provide central or cloud monitoring or control in multiple plants or sites or buildings. These systems let you see across multiple different areas and control multiple processes at once, often with a single click of a button. So these systems offer a higher level of automation than sitting and visualizing from the perspective of one client on one plant. Whichever level of process control you wanna use, Ignition's really an excellent platform for that. There are several reasons for that. For one thing, you'll wanna be able to connect to as many things as possible in your enterprise with a system like this. And Ignition makes that easy to do. You can connect to practically everything inside your enterprise, PLCs, touch panels, databases, desktop PCs, mobile devices. You name it.

Kevin: Ignition also lets you expand the number of tags and connections that you have without going over budget because of the unlimited licensing model that it has. Which means that you pay by the server instead of paying for each client or each tag or each break to the next level of clients or tags. It allows you to do a lot more since you don't have to be worried about that restrictive type of licensing. It allows you to do a lot more really with that remote solution and frankly, really empower your remote workforce. Since people are often accessing remote systems on mobile devices, you'll want to be able to easily build web applications for mobile devices. We introduced Ignition Perspective, which is that new visualization module for the Ignition platform that most of you have probably heard of, and it does exactly that. It also lets you easily build web applications for the desktop too, because it lets you build things inside HTML5, CSS, drag and drop tools, you don't actually have to know HTML or CSS, any of it in order to design an application. You... Because of those drag and drop tools, we tried to make it as easy and friendly to use as possible, to make it as easy to get started, and you'll see it here in a second.

Kevin: Perspective also lets you arrange components for different screen sizes and different designs, which helps when you are creating an application. You can create a single application and a single set of pages to run on a mobile device and in a web browser without having to design two separate applications. Ignition also has another module for visualization called the Vision Module, which is really good for dedicated plant floor displays and HMIs. And Perspective, on the other hand, is ideal for those mobile-first applications, but we're seeing a pretty heavily increased adoption on the side of dedicated plant floor displays and HMIs as well as in the control room on Perspective. You can use Vision and Perspective together, or you can use them on their own. You can use Vision for remote solutions, but it does require a small software installation to get going, whereas Perspective just runs inside a web browser. You type in an address and you're ready to go. You'll also want the ability to extend monitoring and control out to your devices in the field and at the edge of the network. With Ignition, you can add MQTT modules to build an IIoT architecture that lets you subscribe to large amounts of data from remote sites and field devices with a minimum in terms of bandwidth consumption. And our Edge product, Ignition Edge lets you capture data from field devices and easily add Edge computing as well onto your system.

Kevin: Ignition's modular. So I've mentioned the Perspective Module, the idea of modularity is that it allows for easy expansion of the capabilities of what your system could do. There are a variety of modules that let you build the exact solution that you need or to just adjust your module set and allows you to be flexible when your needs shift. For example, you could add the Reporting Module if you wanted the PDF reports. You could add the Alarm Notification Module if you wanted to get alarm notifications by email, text or phone call. Or you could add the Enterprise Administration Module to manage many Ignition gateways from a single location. These are just a few examples.

Kevin: Now, if we talk about monitoring systems versus control systems for a moment, it's important to make a distinction between the two. Typically, both can be done in Ignition, and we presented a recent webinar that Don mentioned at the beginning talking about remote monitoring specifically. For monitoring, read only connections could be utilized to provide a layer of protection. When control is being done, that's not really an option. Security becomes much more important since there's... Well, there's really more at stake. And so a lot of monitoring systems use protocols and technologies that really aren't intended for robust, real-time bi-directional communications using software that's written with control as a core functionality, not as an afterthought, helps a lot in the long run. Something unique about Ignition is that... And this is the key. This is really part of the crux of this.

Kevin: It's unique about Ignition that any Ignition project with the appropriate network permissions and architecture can be controlled remotely. And if you think about that for a second, that means if you're running Ignition today and you set up one of these architectures, you will immediately have remote access to Ignition. We'll talk about the architectures in just a second, and I have a few diagrams, but this is something that really is relatively unique about how easy it is to get going with Ignition. If you don't already have Ignition installed, you can easily spin it up and connect up to existing data sources, and provide a remote access solution as well, but all of this brings me to security.

Kevin: Any system that's accessible and provides remote control needs to have a focus on security. Typically, the easiest way to set up remote access is to simply set up a VPN connection. VPNs, I used to have to explain what VPNs are. At this point, everybody knows what a VPN is because we've all been using them for a while. They're a great option to protect your network traffic when you have remote access users who are going to private network resources. VPN connections come with that authentication and a layer of encryption built-in. In addition to going over a VPN connection, basic authentication to whatever application you're monitoring is almost always a very important security step, username and password or integration with external identity providers, which we'll talk a little bit more about here. In addition, a growing number of companies are using two-factor authentication as well, whether that connection is over a VPN or a direct connect. While it's easy to put your Ignition system online, as I mentioned before, before you do that, you need to think through your security options. A wide variety of security features are available within Ignition directly, which I'll give you an overview of next.

Kevin: What are those best practices? The first step that we recommend in addition to any VPN connection that you might have, regardless of if you have one or not, we recommend turning on encryption for your data, especially if you have those remote connections. Encrypting your data helps prevent the data from being monitored or captured by bad actors. The Ignition platform supports SSL and TLS for encryption. Specifically, it supports the latest HTTPS encryption technologies standards, and so by default, it has TLS 1.2 and 1.3. And for those of you who are really technical on the security side, we have a whole variety of cipher suites and we even give you access to enable and disable your own set of cipher suites there inside the platform. So we normally abide, when you install Ignition, by what are seen as some of the security best practices whilst still being somewhat permissible for device connections. If you wanna lock it down almost entirely, you can absolutely do that and you can set that up inside Ignition directly.

Kevin: These standards, specifically TLS 1.2 and 1.3, those are used to keep internet connection secure. So if you're not so familiar with this, they're one of the core technologies with internet connections from your browser to websites. It helps keep it secure by safeguarding any sensitive data that's shared between two systems. It's what banking websites use, for example, and it's used and available directly inside Ignition. Also, the Ignition Perspective Module has support for federated identity providers and standards. SAML 2.0, OIDC are both supported in Ignition directly. These protocols are identity provider protocols and let you use systems like Ping, Okta, Active Directory Federated Services, Duo, and a number of these other identity providers. Federated identity providers often support features like single sign-on and two-factor authentication. And in fact, at Inductive Automation, everything that we do with Ignition or just in our organization is protected by two-factor authentication wherever we can. So if you have any other web apps that are using single sign-on, you can normally just configure Ignition to use that same set of single sign-on, both for the apps and for the web browser visualizations, and it'll tie into the rest of the infrastructure.

Kevin: Perspective also has a rich permission model that lets you choose different ways to secure Perspective apps. If you're expanding remote access to more of your workers, it is very important to have specific access controls for who is allowed to do what. 'Cause no software is fully secure on its own, you have to secure infrastructure as well. Users should take some basic steps to protect their Ignition installations and their overall architecture. We put together a basic set of best practices around this, and this is a quick security checklist for Ignition. As I just mentioned, and it was important enough to give it its own slide, the encrypted communications is key. You wanna set that up right away using a valid certificate, either from inside the organization or from a certificate authority online. Device, OPC and MQTT security needs to be thought through. So if you're doing integration for any devices or OPC, or MQTT, you wanna turn on encryption where you can. And where you can't, some devices don't support that, you wanna think through the network architectures and see if it makes sense to segment things off.

Kevin: Security zones are important for different network segments as well. Application security needs to be carefully considered. Audit logging should be turned on, and that's very easy to do in Ignition. You just add a checkbox and it's essentially ready to go, but you wanna make sure you do that so you can see who is doing what at what times. Database security is... Should be thought through as well, you can encrypt the communication back and forth. You can also optionally encrypt data at rest with most databases, and there's username and password and other security items for different tables, and create permissions and a variety of other things. Platform security for the actual operating system should be thought through, active directory, authentication sources, identity providers like we were talking about a moment ago. And then a plan for software updates.

Kevin: Is there a patch cycle? And if there is a patch cycle, how much down time is that going to cause? And does it make sense to have Ignitions redundancy, for example. So if you take down the main server, the system doesn't go down because the back-up takes over while the patches are being run. This is important enough that we actually wrote up a 14-page document detailing these best practices in these areas. You can find that in the Ignition Security Hardening Guide in the handouts area of the gotowebinar console here or you can find it on our resources section on our website. We also recommend consulting with your IT department for specific security recommendations. Ignition is based on modern IT standards, and is normally very friendly to IT security policies.

Kevin: Now, this is an example of a typical architecture with what we were just talking about, the on-site system right there might have Ignition. Ignition is either connected up to an existing set of things. If you already have Ignition installed, it might look like that where it's connected to PLCs and databases. If you don't have Ignition installed, you can just put it right alongside what you already have and do the same thing. It could either connect to another SCADA system, and pull data from there, or it could connect directly to PLCs, databases. Ignition is very good at connecting to a whole variety of systems. And then if you want the remote access over a VPN, as I mentioned, this is one of the options here, setting up that VPN connection just looks like this. You have that firewall there, you have the VPN tunnel that's coming out here, and then this is going to be your remote system right there. This is me sitting from home in this case, and connected up over to our work network or office network that has a bunch of PLCs, and Ignition sitting there and gives me remote access.

Kevin: And as mentioned, this is something as long as you have a VPN set up and you have the appropriate network routing rules, this is something that makes Ignition accessible in about 10 seconds. So it's very quick to do this if you have the IT rules in place. If you're going to do that, we always recommend going through that Security Hardening Guide, of course. The other option, sometimes folks don't wanna use a VPN, and so what they prefer to do is have Ignition sitting somewhere accessible from anyone who has a mobile device or a computer without going to log in to a VPN connection at all, so just pull up a web address and be able to get into the system.

Kevin: This can be a really good design as well, and generally, if you're doing that, although technically you could put the main Ignition server online, you could do it with port forwarding, generally speaking, best practices are to have a server that is sitting on the cloud that has a secure connection back to that Ignition server inside the network. And this has become a really common design paradigm for a lot of folks who are doing this type of communication where data is pushed out and then it can be bi-directional there, where control is coming back there, but security precautions are taken and measures are in place at the steps along the way here. And in fact, I'm going to be able to show you a little bit of this a little bit later. So at this point, Don, I wanted to turn it back over to you and maybe you can introduce SCS Engineers here.

Don: Kevin, thanks a lot. Totally great. Yes, we'll get to some Q & A on that, already have some questions in the queue. But we're excited now to be able to showcase remote process control projects by our integrators. And so first up, we'll look at this project from SCS Engineers, and David, can you give us an overview of the project?

David: Sure, Don. So what I'm about to show you here is a typical example of what one of our cloud-based SCS RMC Ignition systems looks like, particularly for a landfill gas blower flare station. Now, all of our systems are customized to fit our client's specific needs, but this is a pretty good generic example of what a landfill gas blower flare station could look like. We've implemented similar systems for pump stations, tanks, air compressors, weather stations, landfill gas to energy plants, air monitoring equipment, you name it, basically anything that has a control panel or some sort of input or output, we can successfully integrate into this type of system.

David: Alright, so when our users first log into their system, they're presented with some sort of home page, and what you'll see throughout this example here is that there's a couple main concepts that we're trying to implement throughout the system. The first is full-blown mobile functionality. So the system that you see here is acceptable or is accessible from a PC like you're seeing here from the screenshots and also from major mobile devices as well, so we've designed around the Apple iPhone and android device screen size, and that's why you see the column format for many of these screens here, that this is basically the same size as an Apple iPhone, so that's Concept #1. Concept #2 is that we wanted to design our system so that the most important information is very accessible and very visible and really will pop off the screen. The other information that the system is collecting is still available throughout the system where you've just gotta kinda click into it and this makes sure that the important information is very accessible and is very easy to see and understand.

David: So for this example here, the important information that we're trying to impart to the users that the statuses of the equipment... So we can see here, there are flares that are both on right now, and all three of our blowers are on. If there was a problem, these would show up as alarms. And if we had an alarm, we would be able to go into this system and hit this reset button here, if appropriate, and restart the entire system. We find that many of our clients, this is the key button that they're hitting a lot, that their systems might go down from a power failure or maybe their flare gets blown out or whatever the case may be, and since this system is still, or is all mobile accessible, if it's the middle of the night, they can get their alarm, which comes to them through the Ignition system, and they can figure out what's going on through their mobile device, they can look at the data, and then identify if a mobile restart is appropriate. And if it is, they can just hit this button here. Make sure that everything comes back up and then go about their business.

David: So another thing that we've implemented here is that we're, basically for these systems, the most important information is the wellfield vacuum and the total flow. So we've implemented some graphics here to help the users identify what's going on. So for the wellfield vacuum, we created this target-looking thing that displays what the current wellfield vacuum is, and then it's also displayed as this black line. So as the wellfield vacuum decreases, the radius on the black line is gonna decrease as well, and when it goes outside of the screen annulus, the green annulus will turn to red indicating that they are now in an alarm condition. When the wellfield vacuum goes up and it goes outside of the green annulus, it will turn red as well, and an alarm would be sent out to the user. So they can really quickly identify what's going on with their wellfield vacuum.

David: And then the same for the total flow, that we're displaying the breakdown of the flow between the two flares here. And the reason why this information is important to the users is that this really helps them to make sure that their systems are still in compliance, so it gets back to that environmental risk and environmental compliance concept that I was talking about before. Beyond that, a lot of our users also really wanna know how their system has been performing over time, so we've got a graph down here of the previous week's worth of information showing their daily total flow and their average vacuum. Now, we added some additional functionality to this screen that shows when you hover over top of the wellfield vacuum you get this tooltip that shows you what the vacuum set-point is and what the high and low wellfield vacuum alarm set-points are as well. And then when you hover over the top of the graph, you can see what the daily average vacuum was and what the daily total flow was. So this is that same screen, just shown in a mobile interface. So all of our screens will display well, just like this, in a mobile interface, whether it's vertical or horizontal.

David: Now we looked at the home screen, and now we're starting to go through what we describe as the assets for the system. So for this system, they have two flares and they also have a set of three blowers. So the two flare screens are fairly identical, and this is the screen for Flare 1. The key information for the flare systems are the flow, the wellfield vacuum and the temperature, and we wanted to show these in ways that were eye-catching and really made the screen sort of pop. So we wanted the concept that green is good, red is bad, and we're displaying the flow up here, got the same wellfield vacuum target down here and the temperature. So just from looking at this at a real quick glance, we can identify that everything is fine and that our system is in good operation. Similarly, we have a graph of the flare flow and wellfield vacuum over here on the right, and the flare flow and temperature. So the users can look at these graphs and change the time frame on them to help them identify how the system has been performing over time.

David: We also have controls that are built into the system as well. And one of the other key concepts with mobile functionality with this is that we went with large control buttons, so that the system is very accessible in the field that when you're out there and you've got gloves on, and you can still hit that controls button, and you're not gonna accidentally hit the other data button or something else. So when you select the controls button, we have this pop-up that pops up, and this pop-up was designed, again, to fit on a mobile interface. So through the pop-up, the users have the ability to start and stop the flare, change whether it's in local mode, off, remote, or auto, they can go in and they can change some of their set-points, then they can change which one of the thermocouples are active as well. Another one of the key concepts for really all of our remote monitoring controls systems is that we want to give users the ability to remotely control the system, but only to the point where it makes sense. We don't wanna give them the capability of doing something that would either be hurtful or harmful to themselves or to the environment or to the equipment.

David: So in this case, in this example, we left off controls for things like re-setting up the sensors for the system, we don't really want them to re-span the system or re-span the sensors remotely, 'cause that's something that would have to really be done there in person when you're installing the equipment, and similarly, we also didn't give them the ability to tune the PID loop set-points because that's, again, not something that you really do remotely, it's something that's done in person. Another example of this is that we have user access controls set up on our system as well. So if the user like myself in this example doesn't have the ability to write to anything, all of these set-points are grayed out, so I can't go in here and change what the flow control valve set-point is, and similarly, if I were to come down here and try to click on one of the thermocouples, I would be... Or to change which thermocouple was active, I'd be presented with this pop-up that tells me that I don't have the permission to be able to do that.

David: Along the same lines for users who do have the capability of controlling the system, they get a similar pop-up when they try to change something that asks them, are they sure if they wanna do this or not? And it just adds another layer of security to this, that if you're out there and you're just trying to pan through the system and you accidentally click on something that you didn't mean to click on, it gives you the capability of saying, "No, I really didn't mean to do that, and I'll just want it to operate how it's currently operating." Now, I was talking earlier about how we wanted to have the most key information shown but still have the other information available. So to do that, we added this other data button up here on the screen. And through this button, the users are able to see the other information from the system. So they can see valve statuses, they can see whether equipment's turned on or turned off and other miscellaneous temperatures as well.

David: So the Flare 2 screen looks very identical to the Flare 1 screen. The only thing that we're showing here is that we have the same tooltip that pops up on the wellfield vacuum target as well as what we were showing on the home screen. The blowers continue the same theme that we're displaying everything in a mobile ready interface. And for this, for the blower system, we are concerned with the total flow, the wellfield vacuum and then the breakdown between the two blowers. So again, we're trying to display that in a way that adds information to the user and makes it very eye-catching. Up here at the top, we have a settings button. And when the users select that, they are able to change set points for the way that the entire system is operating up here at the top. And then they have the capabilities of changing settings or really controlling each individual blower. So they can go down here and they can turn the blower off or put it in auto and they can also reset the runtime. Using these navigation buttons down here at the bottom of the screen, they can either click on those and switch between the individual blowers or if they're on a mobile device, they can swipe and go back and forth between the various blowers. Similar to the flare screens, we've got our other data, and we're showing this for the individual blowers and the users can pan between the different screens similar to the previous screen.

David: Now, we've talked currently about the way that you can act on instantaneous data and control the system remotely. Some of the other unique things we've built into the system is really having the ability to analyze what's going on. And that's what the next three screens are gonna talk about here. So the first is a graphing utility that allows the users to be able to go in and remotely view how the system has been performing historically. So they can select whatever data points they want. And we've added in every data point that the system is recording, and then they can select what timeframe it is that they want, and basically hit the add tags button down there and it will add the information into the graph over here.

David: We've found that this is a feature that a lot of our engineers and operators really like, because they can use it for a lot of different purposes. They can use it for troubleshooting, they can use it for reporting purposes, it's really a great catch-all tool for anything that's not displayed on any other screens, they can really dive deep into it here and get the most out of the system. Similar to the graphing screen, we have a data query screen that's got the same menu structure, the same date query part. But instead of displaying the data in a graph, it displays it in a table. So here I've selected temperature and flow from Flare 1 and the wellfield vacuum from the entire system, selected a date range, and displayed it here in a table. The users can also download the data for further analysis or for use in reporting by clicking on that button and it's saved as a file under their computer.

David: Now, the final screen and I think what might be the most... Give you the most bang for your buck really out of all of these screens is the alarm analysis dashboard. And we found that this is a tool that again, our engineers, operators, managers really like because it really enables them to get the most out of the system and really gives them the ability to intelligently direct their field resources. So we all have limited amounts of time that we can spend on doing things. And just for the sake of argument, let's say that a technician has an hour that he can spend out in the field troubleshooting on something with his flare station. So what he can do is he can pop open this interface, he can do it on his phone, he can do it from his computer, he can look at maybe the previous week's worth of data, and then, it will show him how his system has been functioning over time. So it breaks down all the alarms that have happened over the time period that he selected. And it shows him the most important ones from a frequency standpoint, and from a duration standpoint. So this one tells us basically the quantity of times that these things have occurred, and this one says how long have these alarms occurred over that time period.

David: So from looking at this, we can see that the Flare 2 low temperature alarm has been the most frequent alarm and it's also been the one that was active for the longest period of time. So if that technician only has an hour to troubleshoot something, he is gonna be going out there and looking at this Flare 2 alarm, not one of these other ones, because this one is... Seems to be the one that is causing the most problems. So he can go out there, and he can look at what's going on with his louvers. Maybe he needs to tune his louvers, or tune his PID loop or something like that. So it really gets back to what I was talking about before that we try to listen to our clients’ needs. And we try to give them technology tools that really help our clients to work smarter rather than harder, and really make very smart decisions. And it's, in this case, really centered around our SCS RMC high Ignition platform. So that's all that I've got. Feel free to reach out to me if you've got any questions or comments.

Don: Thanks, Dave. I think I'm gonna move us along, and Janne, why don't you take over and share with us your use case.

Janne: Okay, sure. So I will quickly go through our system. And as I told earlier, we are working with buildings and here we can see the starting page when you log in the system. We have 189 buildings currently connected in this server. And we can see the buildings here. You can look to buildings also from the map and get from there to the actual site. And once you click it and then once again, you are on the site local level here. On the left side, we have the main menu, we have actually put quite a lot of effort to design the user interface and the UX, user experience so that our customers who could be in many different roles, they could be maintenance guys, they could be managers, they could be people living in the building, so we need to make sure that our usability is good for different kinds of users.

Janne: So the main menu always on the left side is fixed, no matter in which building you are connected. In the right side, we have this kind of info bar, we have guides and supports, and also our users can give feedback and ideas, like what to develop to the system. I will start solving some processes here. So now we're in this building, we have quite a lot of processes designed here. I will start from this one, and this is the ventilation process here connected from the building. We can remotely see how the ventilation works, we can open the charts to see the history, and we can quickly select the day or month or week history or the specific dates here as well, or check some individual trends here if we want to analyze them. Another process here in this building is this one, this is a district heating network in the building, so this is the heating system, and this is tap water heating here, and then we have actually one, four, three... Four heating circulations here, because it's a pretty big building. Again here, we can click the similar symbol here to get the history and trends.

Janne: So the user experience we try to keep always similar no matter where you are on the site, so that's the... Make it easier for people to use. And here we have this kind of quick sparkline chart, so if you want to start at this heating circuit, you can quickly take, for example, 24-hour history here, you can see the overview. And then you can go to details if needed. We can also remotely control the system, we can change the heating curve here, adjust the values and do some adjustments if needed, remotely. We also use the themes here, so it is the light theme, and then we can move to the dark theme if the people are more familiar with this or want to do it this way. And the third one is this kind of supervision view where everything actually is greyed, grey colors, and if there is some failure in the process, some heat pump is failed or some other part is failing, and it actually starts to blink in red, and you can easily see where the problem will rise, if you have a big process chart here about what you are looking for. So any user can choose what of the themes they want to use.

Janne: I can quickly jump to another building here. I will jump to... This one, this is an apartment building in one city in Finland. Again, the building itself has a totally different automation system, but still, the user experience here is exactly the same, and that's why it makes it so easy to use. I will also quickly show you some indoor living conditions. This is actually our office in Tampere, and here I will jump to the analytics part and I will take this one. So we can actually see the indoor living conditions here. We have a temperature here shown in different rooms of the office. We can look at trends of the indoor conditions and we can change the CO2 levels and so on. Again, pretty similar kind of user-perspective point of view. Then we can have floor plans. Let me quickly show you that. This is another building, again, in a different city in Finland. We can take floor plans and we can check how it looks, the different indoor conditions under the floor plan. Again, here you can see the trends of different places.

Janne: And then the last thing I think I will jump to is our newest version, it is here, and this is using the dynamic dashboard feature of Perspective; people can themselves design their own dashboards. And I have designed this myself, and this is my home. I have a kitchen fridge temperature here, and then another fridge, I have ground-floor indoor temperature measured here, and then the room average temperature. And if I put this in the dark mode, I can close these menus and I can put everything on the full screen. I could have a pretty nice overall dashboard to keep monitoring. So that's very briefly how we remotely monitor our buildings.

Don: Janne, I have to tell you that many, many years ago, when you first came to our offices in Folsom and visited us and you were talking about what you had already been doing, but you were moving over to Ignition, I have not followed along what you have done in Finland since that time but I totally appreciated your demo. You're doing some amazing stuff, and thank you very much for sharing it with us. I totally appreciate it.

Janne: Thank you, Don. I appreciate it.

Don: But Kevin, you've got just a few minutes left. I'm gonna turn it over to you then, for your demo.

Kevin: Sounds good. I am going to do my best to pack about a 10 or 15-minute demo into just a couple of minutes here. I wanna respect everyone's time, but I've got a few steps to go through but the idea is mainly to show how quick and easy it is to get everything up and running if you either have Ignition already installed or even if you don't. So I'm going to hit Show My Screen. This is... I should see my main screen here. And I'm actually going to minimize this and come over to a fresh system over here. I have a local Ignition gateway that's already installed right here, this one happens to have our demo project that's part of this. So if I launch this up, this is on my local network. And if I come over... Water/wastewater is an interesting demo inside here, because it has a lot of different details, it has some overview screens that render in a couple of different ways right here. So this is all local, this is on my local network and I happen to have a server on the cloud as well that doesn't have any of this inside it.

Kevin: So what I'm going to do is hop over there, I'm going to make this connection to the cloud. There are two options for that, I can go over MQTT or I can go over Ignition's gateway network. We have both as options just because... I was going to do MQTT but it has about an additional one minute for the configuration, so I'm instead going to hop in and go over the gateway network because that's super quick here. And do that from my local system here out to our cloud server. So from here, I'm just going into the configuration section and I'm going to set up an outgoing gateway network connection, do an outgoing connection right here. And I'll go to, that's the name of our server in the cloud. I just hit Create Connection. Now, I'll keep things left and right on this screen so that you can see what's where. So everything on the right is my local system, everything on the left is the cloud. So I'll go to my secure IO server right here. And of course, anything with a gateway network connections or anything else, it's going to be important to come in and set up security on those things.

Kevin: And so by default, it is using encryption for the communication back and forth. Just setting the incoming connections over here, and I can choose to approve what I want to approve in this incoming connection. So I'll say, "Yes, I trust this." There's the certificate, there's information about who this is. And then it's going to come through. And now that I'm approved, you can see this is a live connection going to come down and say, I want to stream my tags. Both the real-time tags and I want to stream over... Historical data over the connection right here, which once again, you can do gateway network or MQTT. And I'm going to go to my Ignition demo server, which is my local one, go to the default tag provider and I will call this default here. Hit the button and now we are connected and that's pretty much it.

Kevin: So if I wanna use the data that's available from my local system in the cloud, I can do that now. I'll start up a designer here. And in this designer, I'll launch something from that cloud server, which is the If you ever used the Ignition designer before, this is all very familiar to you. If you're not... If you haven't, it's probably not hard to follow along with. I will put in the right password here for logging into this. And inside here, we've got a couple of projects that I already had set up. What I'll do is I'll create a new project and maybe I wanna take a look at those water tags. So I'll call this water, default tag provider right there, which is what I just set up there and hit create a new project. And we can immediately see on this side that we're going to get the tags coming through. We can see the things that are inside the water/wastewater section of everything. I can come in and this is actually browsing that tag provider from my local system, so this is exactly it. These are all the tags that are available there. I can take a look at my tanks, I can take a look at my power or my pumps, and whatever else that I want right here.

Kevin: Of course, given that we have this connection, I can set this up in a way that I have... All of these are bi-directional, so as long as the permissions are in place, I can actually write back to these tags. And this happens to be an HOA tag right here. So I could come in and I could write to this HOA tag. I could say I want this to be in auto, for example. And we've got permissions on here as well. So this tag is set up with a read-only permission and that shows the limitation for that read-only permission going down here. A variety of other tags are set up for read/write. And then if we take a look at any of these, I can just drag them out to the screen and visualize this on the screen. This is all streaming from my local setup once again to Ignition running on the cloud. Not only that, if I wanted to have the exact same display that I have there, I could import the displays from that side. So I happened to export a couple of things earlier. So I will come in and import those because I was planning on doing a fresh export, just so that you could see what that looked like too but for the sake of time, I'll just take the ones that I exported just a few minutes ago. This is all those views in the water section, and I will import all of these.

Kevin: And then I'll go ahead and import the associated session properties and any supporting scripts that I have here. So I had three different files in this case, and now that I have those in place, I can come in. I can take a look at my water app right here, pull in this view. And keep in mind this is running on the cloud, this is accessible from anybody who has access to it and this is all data that is now streaming between my cloud server and that local server there. Not only that, it's the data that you see right here, and it's also anything that happens to have... If I pull up one of these, that happens to have some other items associated with it, where these are all related to each other. You have graphs, you have charts, this just started storing history. And you can see over this period of time, this is just streaming history from the edge right there.

Kevin: So a very quick example, but this is the idea. You get connected up, you are good to go. And make sure that you set up the security in the appropriate way, 'cause that's the hardest part of that, is just figuring out what you wanna do with security, it's not the actual connection here. That's the technology behind the scenes that we've created. We try to make this as easy as possible to just make these things accessible immediately in the cloud. Alright. And originally, I was going to have you join me in taking a look at that because it's on a public server here. We don't actually... I don't think it makes sense to take the time for that because I wanna respect everybody's time here. Don, I'll turn it back over to you and we might have time for a question or two if we run a couple more minutes here.

Don: Kevin, you've just done a masterful job of a very amazing demo in a very short period of time. There are still hundreds of people on this webinar, even though we've overrun. And so, I wanna be respectful of your time but make you an offer. Obviously, if you're new to Ignition, you can download it, you can get it in three minutes and work with it. If you want a demo, if you want Kevin or one of our account executives to give you more information, please, we're gonna follow up and we will get to all of your questions. So download it, try it for yourself. I also wanna say two things in closing. One, I'll say and one I'll let Kevin say in 10 seconds and that is, one, virtual conference, September 15th. It's coming up. You don't wanna miss it. We're 26 days from September 15th right now. That's the date of 2020. Secondly, it has an Ignition Exchange Challenge. Can you give us a quick info on what that is, Kevin, and then we'll wrap up?

Kevin: Absolutely. So anyone who is familiar with Ignition, who's already been doing things inside Ignition, if you go to the Ignition Exchange, which is the free open sharing site for any resources inside Ignition, if you create something cool that you wanna share with the community, that's the place to do it. And we have over 100 resources in there that folks have created over time. If you submit anything between now and August 31st, you've got a week left for this, there is the ability to be entered. There are top three entries that are going to have a special recognition at ICC. We had to... We have a cash prize. It is limited to the United States because of some of the laws that surround all of that, but that's going to be available for the top place winner. And we also have some Onboard partners who have said that they're interested in reaching out to the winners and possibly offering some actual hardware for all of that as well, and we're really excited about that. I think details are going out in the newsletter about what might be available there, too.

Don: Thanks, Kevin. Listen, you guys covered a lot of territory. Janne, David, Kevin, thank you so much. I apologize we didn't get to Q and A, but I go back to what I said at the beginning. If we didn't get to your questions during this, we will follow up. Here's contact information to account executives and the panelists today, David and Janne, thank you again. If you wanna follow up with them, I'm leaving it on the screen right now, so you can get a chance to follow up and ask them questions about what they presented today, and your questions will get responded to. So thank you very much for your attendance today. And with that, I think we've come to the conclusion of today's webinar. I do think that remote monitoring and control are pretty important topics and so we really dug into control today. So with that, thanks everyone. Have a great day.

Posted on August 10, 2020