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Over the years, Industrial Control Systems (ICS) in the oil and gas industry have been transitioning into cost effective Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) strategies, which monitor near real time conditions of assets for owners and maintainers. However, the increasing threat of cyber-based attacks on connected systems leave many companies unwilling to engage outside CBM experts due to the lack of security associated with existing ICS products. As an expert in Ethernet and serial ICS protocols, Monico, a Texas-based company, facilitates CBM data analytics and remote monitoring by adding a secure layer to existing equipment to provide communications that meet enterprise grade data security.
Built on security as a core tenant, the company’s latest platform, mCore SDR, is a Secure Data Router with both legacy serial communications and the latest Ethernet and security protocols. “In mCore SDR, we securely inject an X.509 certificate into a tamper-proof location to create a root layer of trust in the device,” says Doyle Taylor, President and CEO, Monico. “We also use High Assurance Boot (HAB) to ensure the validity of each layer of software being loaded in order to create the most secure industrial edge router.” With five serial network ports, one Ethernet LAN port, and firewalled WAN port, mCore SDR is capable of providing secure communications for many serial and Ethernet protocols simultaneously.
Monico’s current suite of Gateways offer data aggregation and protocol conversion on four serial networks and one Ethernet port; the Gateway is capable of translating eight protocols simultaneously. The CDL Gateway is a custom protocol converter that provides an interface to the vast majority of existing Caterpillar engines and associated equipment.“We have over 6000 multifaceted gateways installed on CAT engines driving natural gas compressors in the midstream and gathering market, which is critical to supplying Natural Gas to end customers,” explains Taylor.
In mCore SDR, we securely inject X.509 certificate into a tamper-proof location to create a root layer of trust in the device
With over 10,000 CDL Gateways operating worldwide on the proprietary CAT Data Link network, Monico collaborates natively with engine management systems to gather information from various sensors attached to the system. The Gateway also communicates with the majority of driven equipment connected to the engine such as generators, gas compressors, marine propulsion and power generation, oil and gas drilling rigs, and large mining equipment. “Our gateways are an integral part of monitoring highly sophisticated heavy equipment in multiple markets,” says Taylor.
In one instance, a natural gas compression firm was experiencing catastrophic failures on their G3606 CAT compression engines, where they had cylinder liner failures every two weeks. The pressure to determine the root cause was intense due to the $17k cost of each repair. “The firm’s compression manager requested that Monico install a CDL Gateway,” says Taylor. “Within 1-2 weeks, another failure occurred and Monico helped transfer high-fidelity log files of the event off-board for analysis.” The resulting analysis indicated that a coolant temperature was spiking within the two to three minute poll frequency on their traditional monitoring system. Armed with high-resolution data, field technicians quickly identified the root cause of cylinder liner failures. “Within weeks, the customer placed an order to retrofit all 200 compressors in operation with CDL Gateways.”
Forging ahead, Monico plans to use mCORE SDR as a secure platform for delivering critical operational and maintenance data to any SCADA or cloud system. The company is working with OSIsoft—an operational intelligence software provider—to develop a connector system with OSI’s product, PI, which will allow secure data to flow to on-premises installations and cloud-based systems using trusted computing methods.