Security affects us all

See Pilz at MachineBuilding.Live, 4 October 2023, on stand 41 

Industrial security not only includes the protection of data, but at the same time also guarantees the integrity of safety functions and measures, as the experts at Pilz explain.

If a production worker starts up a plant, even though they are not authorised to do so, this is already considered a security incident. This manipulation, even if unintentional, endangers the safety of other employees. This makes it even more important to consider safety holistically – because it also plays a key role in questions of liability.

Compared with the more tangible topic of machinery safety, industrial security still appears to be more of an abstract concept. Many people primarily associate it with external cyber attacks, but security is relevant down to the smallest machine in a production facility. Security encompasses safety, ensuring its integrity and thus the protection of human and machinery. With new legislation, security measures will become obligatory, for example in the European Machinery Regulation from 2025. But even today companies are already working to ensure the safety of personnel, machinery and data.

Assuming responsibility

If management fails to implement general organisational measures and instructions when structuring work, it can be held liable for this. Problems such as near-accidents or the occurrence of new risks at the workplace must result in suitable measures. Regular checks identify any need for action in good time.

Consider as an example an employee who opens a safety gate and thus brings the machine to a stop. The manufacturing process is interrupted, resulting in economic losses. The employee didn’t actually have authorisation to open the safety gate, but due to a lack of work instructions they were unaware of this, and access to the plant was not clearly regulated. In this case, the task was delegated to an unqualified person and there were no work instructions or they were incomplete. The company management is thus liable for the consequences.

An all-round safe workplace

Employee protection goes hand in hand with liability protection: the operator of the plant or machinery is responsible for the protection of its employees and must take appropriate measures.

If a machine is protected by a safety gate, for example, but access is not regulated, a cleaner or similar could enter the machine’s danger zone and be injured. In this example, the safety device is not sufficient. In the course of a hazard assessment, potential hazard sources would have been identified early on: Is access to the machine sufficiently protected? What qualification must the employees have on the machine and for which work steps are they then authorised?

Prevent manipulation

A third area that is becoming increasingly relevant is data protection. Security is often associated with this as stated previously and there is great concern that an attacker could manage to access a company’s OT network. This can happen, for example, if a USB stick with malware has been intentionally or unintentionally used on a machine. If there is no segmentation within production, hackers can thus not only cripple this one machine, but manufacturing as a whole.

This is the ‘worst case’, and this situation is also sensitive with a view to data protection. Data and expertise must be protected against external attacks as well as from danger originating within the company.

All three scenarios described are not only relevant for reasons relating to liability, they also have a major influence on a company’s productivity. So what can companies do to play it safe? Security precautions must be regularly scrutinised and adapted to the current conditions. A holistic risk analysis indicates possible weaknesses and includes both safety and industrial security. Based on this analysis, appropriate measures can be taken and the machinery retrofitted, if necessary.

Clearly regulate access

For the examples mentioned, comprehensive identity and access management, meaning the regulation of accesses and entrances, could be an adequate solution. If an access permission system such as the PITreader from Pilz is used, only authorised people are issued an RFID key with their individual permissions for plant and machinery on which they carry out work. They only achieve the desired access after they authorise themselves on the machine by inserting their key into the PITreader.

Authorisations can be issued and managed centrally. If there is however a safety incident or manipulation, the system can be used to track who last worked on the machine.

Lock out attackers

If machines are to be protected against unauthorised access and manipulation, an industrial firewall such as SecurityBridge from Pilz also offers protection. It monitors the data communication within an industrial automation network. To protect the data flow of a production facility, switchable and activatable products can also be an appropriate measure. The activatable USB‑2.0 host interface of the Pilz operation element PIT oe USB controls the manipulation-proof import of programs, export of data and connection of a keyboard or mouse. If the operation element is combined with the access permission system PITreader, the activation is only performed with the corresponding authorisation.

These measures can be easily integrated or retro­fitted into an industrial application. Industrial access management thus contributes to greater industrial security and ensures the integrity of the machinery safety. At the same time, the company management can rely on this holistic safety concept and thus assumes responsibility for the company and for its employees.

Pilz Automation Ltd

Pilz House
Little Collier's Field
NN18 8TJ

+44 (0)1536 460766

More products
17 hours ago
Spring budget presents mixed bag for UK industry
The Chancellor’s spring budget presents a mixed bag for UK industry, says Mark Yeeles, VP for industrial automation at Schneider Electric in the UK and Ireland, commenting: “While the full expensing measures are a good step towards encouraging the investment that is vital for our sector to become more efficient and productive, the imminent end to energy cost support presents an existential threat to many businesses in our sector.”
3 days ago
William G Search wins Atlas Copco Compressors’ Distributor of the Year Award
Honouring William G Search with the Distributor of the Year Award, Ariel Rubinstein, general manager at Atlas Copco Compressors, said: “At Atlas Copco, we want to recognise and celebrate partners who contribute towards our overall growth.
3 days ago
CMZ and NSK celebrate over 25 years of technology collaboration
World-renowned Spanish lathe manufacturer CMZ is lauding more than 25 years of high-level technological collaboration with linear motion and bearing specialist NSK. The company’s machines incorporate NSK innovations that include ground ball screws, linear guides and super-precision bearings.
4 days ago
Ensuring regulatory compliance for razor blade assembly machine
When consulting services company Laicon identified the need to appoint a European Authorised Representative (EUAR) in compliance with EU Regulation 2019/1020 for a razor blade assembly machine project, it turned to Hold Tech Files.
4 days ago
Delta Electronics recognised as Top 100 Global Innovator 2023 by Clarivate
Delta has been honoured for the second consecutive year as one of the Top 100 Global Innovators (2023) by Clarivate for its superior innovation and patent intellectual property portfolio.
4 days ago
Schneider Electric appoints Mark Yeeles as vice president for Secure Power
Schneider Electric has appointed Mark Yeeles as the new vice president of its Secure Power division in the UK and Ireland. Yeeles joins the Secure Power division from Schneider Electric’s Industrial Automation business, where he delivered a sustained period of growth through its robotics and process automation solutions.
5 days ago
Sustainability and green technology create new markets
Sustainability efforts create entirely new markets, lead to attractive business models, and offer great opportunities for the key technology that is robotics and automation. Automatica, held in Munich from 27 to 30 June 2023, presents the opportunities of sustainable production.
5 days ago
SBTi approves SKF’s science-based emissions reduction targets
SKF has received validation of its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions reduction targets from the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). The SBTi has verified SKF’s net-zero target by 2050, validating both SKF’s near and long-term science-based emissions reduction targets.
6 days ago
New labour saving ‘apple-ication’ for ai-optimised 3D vision
Scorpion Vision is presenting a new application for its AI-powered 3D vision platform. The new 3D+AI solution will enable fresh produce processors to automate the peeling, coring and chopping of apples without impacting yield for the first time ever.
6 days ago
Low-cost molecular diagnostic tests delivered using Festo technology
A new near-patient diagnostic testing system which promises to slash the waiting time for results relies on handling gantries and electric axes from Festo for pipetting and dispensing.

Login / Sign up