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Efficient process reliability management

Software suite combines engineering data with IT and OT data
Efficient process reliability management

Safetyinsight, a suite of digital software applications, helps businesses in the process industry manage their process reliability across a system’s entire lifecycle. It not only makes it easier for system operators to comply with documentation regulations, it also helps cut maintenance costs, reduce production losses, and above all, ensure process reliability for people and the environment.

Functional safety is crucial to the process industry due to the strict guidelines the sector must follow and because it is the key to protecting people, systems and the environment. This makes functional safety arguably the most important factor in system availability and investment protection. Complex workflows place high demands on process reliability. Managing this safety begins with three key questions:

  • What can go wrong?
  • Which systems can prevent this from happening?
  • Do they work?

ABB’s software suite Safetyinsight helps answer these questions.

Designed as a central source of information, the software digitalises early Engineering Technology (ET) data to create a digital map for process reliability. This information creates the context for the tremendous volume of data generated by information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems.

During the engineering phase, companies in industries that use systems with high risk potential in particular invest a great deal of time and money in developing fundamental safety and security principles. However, this elementary knowledge often remains tucked away and unused, while operations and maintenance teams must repeatedly reana-lyse the hazards and risks associated with their processes. Using Safetyinsight changes all this. The software suite combines IT and OT data with ET data, thus enabling enterprises to digitalise valuable engineering information (like the HAZOP analysis and LOPA analysis). The data is then made available to operations and maintenance personnel in simplified, intuitive and easy-to-understand visual formats. This makes it possible to perform ongoing risk assessments with digital safety information. Thanks to a software extension that includes IT/OT data, updates are possible almost in real time. The cumulative effect of operations and maintenance tasks can be visualised in a dynamic risk matrix, making performing risk assessments and managing operational risks that much easier.

Advantages for validation

Engineering technology data such as digital twins must be validated. Safetyinsight also simplifies this task by making it possible to capture actual operations and maintenance data in the context of early design assumptions. This enables operators to identify and deploy improvements – thus closing the process reliability management loop. These improvements not only enhance safety, they also help minimise production losses and cut maintenance costs. The software package includes process reliability dashboards that provide the right people with the right information at the right time so they can make well-informed decisions.

Safetyinsight and other ABB applications for information management systems have already delivered proven performance in major process industry businesses. In one specific case, the suite helped increase system availability to over 99 %. Another international corporation was able to reduce time and effort spent on annual safety system valves inspections by 30 %.

Safety for connected systems

The rise in networked systems in the process industry and increasing Internet connectivity have made plants more vulnerable than ever. Implementing a management system for information security (ISMS) in accordance with ISO 27001 or using other industry standards such as IEC 62443 in risk analyses or deploying a suitable architecture such as the ABB cyber security reference architecture are practical measures – and not just for critical infrastructures.

According to the 2021 Global Risks Report, cyberattacks are among the top five greatest threats to the global economy. All the more reason to ensure the appropriate cybersecurity measures are in place and not to rely too heavily on past actions. In practice, threats can come in many different forms. ABB’s cybersecurity portfolio is built on three key pillars: Foundation, Services and Operations, all of which address exactly these issues.

On the one hand, there is a steady stream of cyberthreats; simple countermeasures such as regular patches or other “Foundational Controls” can help mitigate these risks. On the other hand, precisely targeted attacks – also known as Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) – are also being carried out. Here attackers attempt to work their way through to the process control system in a series of steps. Countermeasures that exploit knowledge of the attacker’s approach and defend against it help mitigate attacks against companies in the industrial sector and individual plants and systems.

An example of an effective defensive strategy is detecting and observing an attacker in the early stage of target selection or in the choice of attack and adapting to the specific characteristics of the identified attack to prevent the attacker from reaching important assets and information. Availability, process continuity and process reliability are absolutely essential to the process industry. This is why it is advisable to keep pace with every version step by performing smaller updates throughout the entire life cycle of the system, including the implemented security controls to keep cybersecurity risk and the risk for upgrade projects or even system stops for major IT changes as low as possible.

The ABB Ability Collaborative Operations Center (COC) for cybersecurity enables experts to respond immediately to problems and threats in customer systems. Specific parameters are monitored to report anomalies to the COC. This allows experts to proactively inform customers and take immediate action. Remote Services from ABB help users transfer cybersecurity tasks to ABB experts in an effective and timely manner. This makes it easier to make the right decisions quickly and investigate existing security issues. The ability to effectively network with experts facilitates quick action, thereby boosting the efficiency and reliability of system operation.

ABB Automation GmbH, Mannheim


Technical Sales Support,
ABB Energy Industries

Author: Tobias Nitzsche

Cyber Security Practice Lead,
ABB Process Automation

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