Machine Control Going WWW - Opportunities and Risks When Connecting a Control System to the Internet

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Overview:

Over the last few years control systems have undergone drastic technological enhancements. Where the classic approach of using microcontrollers as a Programmable Logic Controller – PLC – was industry standard in the past, today’s machine control is based on PC technology adopted for the harsher environments found in industrial applications.

By applying this technology onto a machine control system a great variety of PC features is now embedded within the actual control. At the same time the World Wide Web brought electronic communication and networking the virtually everyone.

The combination of the Internet and embedded PC based controls now open opportunities especially in the areas of remote maintenance and diagnostics that are mutually beneficial for both the manufacturer and user of a production machine.

Though features like TCP/IP, web server, VNC, VPN, email have been available for around 2 years now they have not been adopted by many OEMs also because of security concerns and necessary implementation efforts of their customers.

This white paper provides an overview of available technology and show methods on how to maximize on diagnostics with minimal risk and implementation effort.