Environmental, Safety, and Security Evolutions
Societal and business concerns about cybercrime, worker safety, sustainability, and more will require a response

Processes for engineering design and operations change not only because of technological advances but also in response to economic and societal forces. As societies place more value on protecting the environment, for example, more investments will be made in the development of alternative energy technologies. Emissions and fossil fuel use will gradually be replaced by alternatives, and this worldwide effort will dramatically reduce carbon emissions. Automation professionals will be required to focus on efficient energy use and reduced emissions, as well as productivity. 

Global pandemics, cyberthreats, workplace shootings, calls for accommodating differently abled or culturally diverse workers—all these forces and more will push manufacturing and production facilities to adapt. Companies must keep workers and facilities safe, keep processes and products secure, and support corporate goals like carbon-neutral operations or diversity in hiring.  

Automation professionals must be able to evaluate technology solutions, combine big-picture thinking with practical implementation and management skills, and engage in global collaboration. 

Companies will need an integrated, cohesive cybersecurity approach that encompasses all manufacturing and production operations, including supply chain, production, quality, outbound logistics, product life-cycle genealogy, and customer service. The emerging organizational management model is one leader responsible for coordinating all cybersecurity with all stakeholders, deploying a holistic cybersecurity strategy. The chief information security officer (CISO) is most likely to take on this responsibility, coordinating activities among functional areas such as information systems, operations, production, and automation. 

Organizations like the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance will influence industries to get beyond technology fixes to deliberately and purposefully develop cultural norms that improve cybersecurity. Cybersecurity will be synonymous with a safety culture. Policies for all stakeholders in the value chain will provide prevention and escalation procedures to ensure the safety and security of assets, people, and the environment. Cybersecurity certification of control and automation equipment based on international standards will become a primary purchase requirement. 

By Bill Lydon, Automation.com Contributing Editor 

Key Elements and Drivers

  • Affordability and accessibility of alternative fuels and energy sources 
  • Aggressive robotics and mechatronics application 
  • Holistic cybersecurity protection achieved with the collaboration of all stakeholders 
  • Cybersecurity built into edge computers and intelligent sensors 
  • Pervasive Internet Protocol (IP) communications, both wired and wireless 

Industry Impact

  • Organizational changes to achieve cybersecure digital manufacturing 
  • Energy-efficient production methods become essential to be competitive 
  • Business computing systems integrated from sensor to enterprise, with processing happening from the edge to the cloud 


For ISA Members and Leaders

  • Expanded cybersecurity training and expansion of practical guides for end users 
  • Collaboration with IT cybersecurity standards and groups 
  • Development of intelligent sensor standards (ISA99 Level 0,1) 


Articles and Resources

Tesla's Virtual Power Plant: Re-envisioning the Electric Grid

ISA Interchange Blog - 26 May 2020

Consider the electric grid. It blankets most of the world. Its existence and reliability have defined the modern world for far longer than most of us have been alive. We owe most, if not all, of a century's worth of new technology to the grid.

The grid can only operate today thanks to millions of sophisticated, interconnected devices working together in complex patterns. Yet it is built for centralized generation with minimal points of control, and it relies on fossil fuels—concepts that are all rooted in the 20th century.

What would the electric grid look like if it were redesigned today from the ground up?

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5 Ideas to Help "Green" the Automation Industry and Make Some Green

ISA Interchange Blog - 21 April 2020

Consumers and end users are becoming increasingly vocal—and powerful—on many issues, including the environment and renewable energy. Consumers want to know which companies partner with green manufacturers to make their products, and they’re cosigning these decisions by pulling out their wallets. No matter where you are in the supply chain, your practices could become the center of the next media cycle’s public relations nightmare. Today’s consumers are savvy, and if you aren't prepared, a single Google search by the right person could lead to lasting reputation damage.

Read more