CSIA Conference - business continuity and disaster recovery

EnerSys at CSIA: The Importance of Business Continuity and Collaboration in the IIoT Era

EnerSys has been a member of the Control Systems Integrators Association (CSIA) since 2005. Our participation supports our software company’s goal to stay current with the latest technology and best practices to support our clients.

This year, I was honored to speak at the CSIA Executive Conference on April 26 in San Francisco, California. I was part of a panel of CEOs who operated their business through a natural disaster in 2017.

The discussion focused on lessons learned about business continuity and disaster recovery from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Maria, and the Mexico City earthquake. In my breakout session, I was able to contrast EnerSys’ experience with two hurricanes that hit Houston over the past decade: Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

EnerSys lost the use of its building during Ike and had to execute an emergency relocation. In contrast, because of infrastructure changes make in the aftermath of Ike, EnerSys was able to operate 24×7 through Harvey. Likewise, there are valuable lessons to be learned from these experiences about how pipeline operators can deal with a natural disaster in their region.

There was another important lesson from the CSIA conference: the importance of successful collaboration in the current era of rapidly-advancing technology and the reliance on digital data to operate our businesses.

What do these two elements of business continuity and technology have in common? First, more than 90 percent of businesses that lose their data in a natural disaster never recover. Secondly, we cannot go at it alone; we need business partners that provide high-availability solutions so that we are ready for the challenges, whether the next natural disaster or the next cyber attack.

Why is Technology Collaboration Valuable to Operators?

Pipeline operators are increasingly dependent on SCADA not only to operate but also to support other critical business processes such as leak detection. With the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) pipeline operators are using increasingly more connected devices to collect data and perform analytics.

But, what happens if there is a disaster? Or, if there is an unexpected system failure? Safeguards should be built into any new technology because of the risks in play. Additionally, operators need collaborative support to provide for business continuity and disaster recovery.

According to Norma Watenpaugh of the Phoenix Consulting Group during one of the CSIA breakout sessions, the key to successful collaboration is “understanding where and when to augment your skills through collaboration.”

By taking the time to analyze your operation’s current capabilities, you can better understand how to “collaborate consistently and effectively” with similarly-positioned operators to achieve operational effectiveness in the IIoT era.

What is a Big Technological Challenge Facing Operators?

When you mix new, emerging technology with legacy technology that has been used for a decade or longer, there will be challenges getting these systems to talk to each other.

On a recent episode of the Pipeliners Podcast that I hosted, IoT expert Dan Turner discussed the importance of getting these connected devices that come straight from the field with advanced connectivity capabilities to interact with legacy devices. This way, data will flow freely and stakeholders in your pipeline will be able to access this data to make more informed decisions.

If the data is not flowing, then it makes it more challenging to achieve business continuity and disaster recovery during an unforeseen event such as a natural disaster or attack to your system. You will also be challenged to successfully collaborate with business partners who need access to your relevant data.

How Can EnerSys Support Your Pipeline During This Transformation?

EnerSys believes that the pipeliners need to have critical conversations about business continuity and collaboration for more effective and safer operations. That is why it is important for our company to participate in industry conferences such as CSIA, the API Pipeline Conference, and the AGA Operations Conference to share our experience and learn from industry peers.

We then pour this experience and learning into our software such as the POEMS Control Room Management Suite to support operators, plus provide first-class consulting services.

Embedded in our consulting capabilities is collaboration with industry leaders to understand the best practices and determine how pipeline operators can effectively implement these practices to fit their unique needs. We share this knowledge with operators to establish procedures and utilize tools to reliably and safely operate a pipeline using the latest technology.

If you are embracing IIot capabilities in your operation, consider talking to our team to discuss your current needs, such as blending legacy devices with new connected devices to ensure that your data is flowing and your system is safeguarded. We look forward to supporting your operation to ensure business continuity and successful collaboration with other operators.