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When Implementing IIoT, Quality Assurance Is Everything

By Special Guest
Pavel Novik, QA Unit Manager and the Head of Mobile Testing, Itransition
November 07, 2019

When it comes to industrial IoT, every aspect of creating and maintaining an efficient line is about maximizing utilized resources while reducing costs. Of course, this is easier said than done with the generally complex technicalities manufacturers face on a daily basis. 

The main catch with IIoT is taking the necessary steps to ensure quality and safety at each stage of the production line. Quality assurance experts a1qa look at how this can be done and map out the recommended steps below.

Common IIoT Implementation Challenges

Quality assurance means uncovering and solving common problems you will be facing when it comes to the implementation of IIoT in your production workflows. Three of the main challenges to deal with when implementing IIoT are: 

Interoperability 

Interoperability is seen as one of the biggest benefits behind IoT in many industries, especially in the healthcare and automotive sectors. In the industrial environment, it can be a bit more of a technicality. 

Warehouses, for example, often feature a labyrinth of machines and protocols that are not interdependent, making them what we classify as interoperable. The biggest challenge is to ensure the connection between legacy systems and effective communication between network devices. 


Security 

With more manufacturers implementing SCADA systems and M2M technologies, shared information is generally stored in one centralized location, such as the cloud, which can lead to increased risks in terms of cyber-security and online malpractice. 

IT and OT convergence

Information technology (IT) has developed at a rapid pace in the 20th century, whereas the growth of operational technology (OT) has been on more of a steady incline from the innovation standpoint. One of the biggest challenges is bridging the gap between these two assets. 

Data Mapping and Governance

In the industrial environment, data maintenance and quality control are essential to ensure there is no unnecessary resource usage. The idea behind data governance is setting up an IIoT infrastructure designed in a way that will help to gain insight into baseline metrics and identify core problems in the operational processes.

The manipulation of data can be broken down in two separate stages: 

  • Collecting and managing data to gather baseline metrics and identify key improvement areas. 
  • Harmonizing data collection pipelines and creating a central data storage point for sensor data, images, production line statistics, and any error reports within the equipment. 

Ensuring you are constantly maximizing the usage of data collected by machinery and devices will help you assure quality in terms of production line performance. 

Data Security

When it comes to ensuring a smart factory runs efficiently within the IIoT network, it’s important that you have a strong security system in place. With digitalization, it was shown that the U.S. federal budget for cybersecurity is $15 billion in 2019, a $583 million increase from the 2018 estimate. 

Ensuring security and total quality assurance within your IIoT network will also mean staying compliant with smart-factory standards and regulations.

This makes it all the more important to adequately portion a section of your budget to protect your employees, assets, and fellow manufacturer information for M2M businesses. To protect your business is to understand what threats you may face. Some of the most common cybercriminal activities include: 

Device hijacking 

This breach is generally one of the hardest to predict. Hackers utilize access to one device in your warehouse to infect all similar devices. Almost like a worm creating a botnet on a computer network. 

A prime example of this would be a hacker gaining access to a smart meter in the warehouse. They would then use malware to spread the infection, resulting in complete control over your energy management system.

DDoS attacks 

Distributed-denial-of-service attacks are generally aimed more at enterprises’ digital assets than industrial settings. However, as this is one of the most ubiquitous cybercriminal activities, it is worth mentioning.

The idea behind this type of attack is to overload systems with multiple access requests. DDoS attacks are also generally known as ransom activities. They result in overloading the system and essentially blocking all users. If you operate with different manufacturers through your website, this can cause a stall in your business. 

PDoS attacks 

PDoS attacks are designed to permanently decommission machinery or devices. As can be imagined on a production line, this could cause major disruptions. This is probably one of the deadliest cybercriminal attacks in the industrial sector. 

3 Effective Steps to IIoT Quality Assurance

You can utilize some of the following methods to protect your IIoT ecosystem from both security threats and operational malfunctions. 

Constantly assess devices and machinery for malware: 

It’s considered a best practice to do routine inspections of every component of your IIoT network. Through doing this, it will become significantly easier for you to pick up on malicious behavior. 

Establish a secure access policy 

You can implement a strategy called the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). Through restricting who has access to the back-end of your machinery and IIoT network, you can mitigate any potential risks.

Not only can this be used for data protection but it can also apply to equipment use. For example, a rigorous access policy can ensure no employees tamper with the machines on the line, which could end up costly or even harmful to a fellow worker. 

Hire an expert to test security of IIoT components 

In order to ensure that your security measures are adequate, you also have the option to call in a professional. They will help you identify any gaps in your security by running various tests on your system. This way you can catch any breaches or malicious activities before they have a chance of becoming costly problems. 

Through ensuring data quality and IIoT network security, you are on par with setting up your workflows to increase productivity, profits, and employees’ happiness, all of which is critical for your business success. 


 




Edited by Ken Briodagh


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