The Role of Asset Management in the IIoT Era

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Tom Dietrich | June 28, 2024

Managing assets across global operations and continuous production cycles presents challenges as industries evolve. Enterprises worldwide face diverse devices and communication protocols in their facilities.

Asset management involves tracking hardware updates, integrating new connectivity methods, and managing firmware and software. A critical aspect is maintaining a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) to effectively oversee software libraries and components.

Addressing Cybersecurity Challenges

Once you understand your asset inventory, it’s time to investigate cybersecurity. The ever-changing cybersecurity landscape introduces daily threats and exploits. Integrating asset data with threat intelligence is essential to safeguarding operational technology (OT) functions against emerging risks.

Collaborative Approach to Asset Management

Successful asset management requires collaboration across departments—from operations and automation to cybersecurity and network management. Working with these groups ensures a breadth and depth of understanding of the equipment for the plant. If you find yourself lacking in areas, partnering with systems integrators enhances internal capabilities for accurate asset inventory and proactive security measures.

Steps to Strengthen Asset Management

To start handling this complex situation, work with your teams to walk through these steps.

  1. Comprehensive Inventory: Start with a detailed inventory of PC/server/virtual assets, including network, storage, power, and facility details. Identify OT-specific devices like PLCs and drives for comprehensive coverage.
  2. Software Management: Document software details, including SBOM, to ensure transparency in software components and facilitate efficient management.
  3. Lifecycle Planning: Track inventory from purchase requests through decommissioning.
  4. Security Analysis and Remediation: Conduct thorough security assessments to identify vulnerabilities and prioritize remediation efforts.
  5. Physical Security Considerations: Assess physical aspects such as doors, cameras, and building exteriors.

Real-time Understanding in the Age of Connectivity

The rise of IoT and impending 5G integration introduced device connectivity and communication complexities within industrial facilities. Understanding these dynamics—device locations, communication patterns, and vulnerabilities—is crucial for effective asset management. A comprehensive approach, where you can see all this information together, will further help manage assets.

Future Trends and Technologies

Advancements in AI, machine learning, and IIoT promise to streamline asset management further. These technologies offer real-time insights and predictive capabilities, empowering proactive decision-making and enhancing cybersecurity measures.

Effective asset management involves integrating data, leveraging technology, and fostering collaboration. A holistic approach allows organizations to mitigate risks, enhance efficiency, and thrive in today's evolving industrial landscape.

For more insights on how IIoT can transform your asset management strategies, visit the original article on Plant Engineering.