What started out as a small electric company, evolved into an organization with over 800 employees who thrive on tackling your most complex projects, and strive to develop innovative solutions built to meet your needs. Over the years, we have expanded our service offerings from electrical construction and engineering to instrumentation and plant floor automation. Our goal is to continue working with customers to better understand their needs and how we can add the most value.
Each one of these service offerings have continued to evolve over time in an effort to meet current needs, gain efficiency, and take advantage of new technology. One area that has changed significantly over the past several years is the infrastructure required on the plant floor. Initially, when automation was put in place, many called it a relay replacer. The plant floor “network” was just wires running between the devices on the plant floor to a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) which in turn, controlled the devices on floor. The status of the equipment was then graphically represented on a rudimentary computer in a control room. And basically, that is where it stopped.
Fast forward to today and think about the amount of data that is captured on the plant floor (some through a PLC but much of it not). That data is accumulated, represented in multiple ways, and shared with people all over the world. The industry has changed significantly in just a few years. In the early stages of this change, Interstates created a group called Manufacturing IT (MIT). The main emphasis of that group was to help create the infrastructure needed on the plant floor to support all of the data collection. With that came the need for increased cybersecurity, as well as the ability to analyze vast amounts of data for customers. While some of the tools used in the commercial space (think banks, insurance, retail, healthcare) can be used in the industrial space, they cannot be applied the same way and the risks are significantly higher. Because of those differences, what was once considered “IT” on the plant floor, is now referenced as Operational Technology or “OT”. While there are similarities between IT and OT, there are some big differences as well. For instance, one misapplied Microsoft update could take down an entire operating facility.
Because of this expanding need, we have decided it is time to better identify the additional services we provide. Our group that now handles what was traditionally basic MIT is now called Operational Technology Infrastructure and Security. They have expanded their services to provide design, installation, security, and support for the hardware and software systems that control and monitor the equipment and processes used in industrial facilities and plants. The unique challenges in this environment require solutions focused on keeping systems running securely and ensuring production uptime.
This is just one of many examples of how Interstates continues to live out our three why’s: providing opportunities for our people, pursuing a better way, and making a difference with our clients! Visit our website or contact us today to learn more about Operational Technology Infrastructure and Security.
Jack Woelber, Interstates Control Systems, Inc. President