How to Create Energy Savings and Sustainability with IoT

Power costs are rising, and environmental sustainability has become a must. With so much at stake, how do you drive energy savings while also supporting regulatory compliance?

The short answer: digital transformation through the Internet of Things (IoT). Or, more accurately, through the IIoT (the Industrial Internet of Things).

From energy and utilities, to manufacturing and mining, to oil & gas, building owners, facilities managers, and digital transformation specialists are realizing the benefits of leveraging the power of the IIoT to achieve (and prove) energy sustainability.

So, if you’re not making the most of IoT, now’s a good time to change things.

Watch this webinar where MSA FieldServer participated in a joint panel session with Measurlogic and Losant.

Together, we shared a real-world case study, discussed energy monitoring with IoT, and offered practical and proven ways to:

  • Monitor and manage energy usage across a continuum of complexity
  • Improve data collection and dissemination
  • Extract actionable insights about how and where energy is used (and wasted)
  • Support more informed decision-making

Learn more about the tools and solutions enterprises need to increase energy efficiency, ensure compliance, and decrease costs.

Want to know how FieldServer fits into a Cloud-based IoT strategy?

Understanding your current energy consumption is the first step toward implementing an energy-savings strategy. But getting there can be like learning a foreign language—unless you have FieldServer gateway and Cloud products as your de facto translator. Our industry-leading IIoT solutions support protocol conversion, solve communication translation challenges, and empower enterprises to reduce energy consumption and boost energy savings.

Discover How FieldServer Devices Can Help You with Your Energy Efficiency Goals

The Difference Between FieldServer™ Manager and FieldVEU

Industrial connectivity is continuing to evolve even as the future of Industry 4.0 is being created today. Real-time insights are proving not just helpful but crucial to the improvement of products, processes, and production.

So, whether you’re fully immersed in a data-driven world or just getting started with your connected journey, understanding which Industry 4.0 tools to use right now can go a long way toward maximizing operational efficiency and streamlining organizational effectiveness.

Managing Devices vs. Understanding What’s Happening

Managing devices is just what it sounds like. It’s keeping track of device function and status. Back in the day, managing the fleet meant using paper-and-pencil tracking and spreadsheets. Now, technology automates that work.

But don’t make the mistake of equating device management with understanding what’s happening at any given time on any given site in real time. That’s different. Prior to technological advances like building automation, the only way to have awareness of what was going on at a particular location was to have personnel physically on site looking and in the presence of the device.

Thankfully, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has changed that for the better.

For example, consider a manufacturing facility with four different production lines. Smart devices can monitor these production lines and collect important data, such as how much energy each line is using.

But that information, that data, in and unto itself, isn’t enough to do anything with. Instead, that data must be available and presented to whomever makes the decisions about managing energy consumption. Not only that, but the data must also be provided in an understandable form. Only then can the decision maker determine what to do next. This awareness is what leads to actionable insights, which leads to making improvements that benefit the bottom line. In this instance, such data could be used to determine where and how to cut energy usage while simultaneously maximizing production.

Putting It Together

As you can tell, both parts of the equation (managing devices + understanding what’s happening) are required to effect change.

And that’s where the MSA Grid FieldServer Manager and FieldVEU solutions come in.

These solutions, especially when used together, are a powerful way for organizations like yours to reduce costs, boost profits, and maintain a competitive edge.

About FieldServer Manager

FieldServer Manager is an empowering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology solution that provides a cost-effective way for users to manage a fleet of deployed assets. FieldServer Manager works with all FieldServer IIoT gateways and allows users to remotely configure, update, and support connected devices.

FieldServer Grid Manager for FieldServer device management and  3rd party cloud connectivity.

Who is FieldServer Manager for?

  • Device OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), their customers, and system integrators within these applications/environments:
    • Boiler controls
    • Chiller and air handling
    • Data centers
    • Energy metering
    • Fire panels
    • Generator/UPS
    • Life safety
    • Lighting
    • Security

What are the benefits of FieldServer Manager?

  • Remote monitoring and control of devices to:
    • Ensure the proper performance of assets
    • Reduce field truck/personnel expenses
    • Send real-time notifications (text or email) for faster, proactive event response
  • Secure, portal-based access for total privacy that also allows for:
    • Multiple user accounts within the portal with varying login and security credentials
    • Permission-based access to MSA tech support for troubleshooting assistance
  • Data collection and dissemination that includes:
    • Secure data pushes to third-party Cloud services via Webhooks or RESTful API
    • 30-day storage in the gateway
    • 12-month Cloud storage
  • Fast, easy deployment and full scalability to accommodate changing demands with:
    • No OEM engineering development time needed
    • Seamless set up and registration through the Cloud portal
  • Cost-effective solution with:
    • No annual subscription for connection to OEM devices
  • Optional features, including:
    • Proxy Tunnel
      • Remote access to end device web pages
    • OpenVPN
      • Remote device connection for local applications
        • Diagnostics
        • Configuration

About FieldVEU

FieldVEU is a mobile-friendly visual dashboard that displays a variety of customizable data metrics from one or many devices connected to a FieldServer, enabling full visibility of the fleet.

FieldVEU allows users to visualize devices for data analysis.

Who is FieldVEU for?

  • The same users as FieldServer Manager: OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and their customers

What are the benefits of FieldVEU?

  • User-friendly, intuitive design featuring:
    • Minimal configuration and user created FieldServer profiles
    • Customizable dashboard templates that enable OEMs to create specific views for devices
    • Enhanced data visualization for quick, concise monitoring of device function and status
    • Easy-to-understand gauge and graph displays of such data as averages, real-time values, and other important metrics
    • Drag-and-drop organization capabilities
  • Enables collaboration and comparison across multiple sites and:
    • Displays up to 15 data points
    • Allows users to set up unique alarms/notifications
    • Enables Cloud-based data to be viewed for up to 30 days of data per device
  • Highest level security, featuring:
    • AWS (Amazon Web Services) hosting
    • Encrypted data transfer
    • Third-party certification

Keep Up with Cloud-Based Connectivity

Contact us to find out how FieldServer Manager and FieldVEU can help you level-up proactive management of your fleet.

Why Security Is the New Normal

“The industrial internet of things is still a big mess when it comes to security.”

If that headline from business technology news outlet ZDNET doesn’t give industrial organizations pause, we don’t know what will. Stop for a moment and think of all the potential entry points the IIoT could allow within IT/OT operations.

  • How vulnerable to attack are these systems?
  • Could a cybercriminal gain unauthorized access?
  • Is the organization’s data at risk for theft?
  • Might ransomware make its way into the system and take control?

Citing a Barracuda cybersecurity analysis, ZDNET reported that “94% of industrial organizations experienced a ‘security incident’ during the past 12 months” with many organizations indicating that the attack had “significant” impact on their operations.1

These alarming findings are why we’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about cybersecurity and the IIoT—and we’re not done yet.

As the IIoT continues to grow, thanks to Industry 4.0, so, too, will the need to make cybersecurity the new normal for industrial, manufacturing, and commercial operations.

Here are 3 security-related things that organizations can do right now to help secure their IIoT-enabled systems and adopt the new normal.

Make a list and check it twice.

If there’s one thing cyberattacks have taught the industrial world, it’s that no one is immune. While it’s impossible to secure a network from attack 100%, that doesn’t mean organizations shouldn’t try.

One of the biggest mistakes industrial and manufacturing companies can make is to rely solely on their device manufacturers to ensure the security of their systems. While that may have been good enough in the past, the new normal requires organizations to increase their involvement and understanding of security at every turn.

A good first step is to make a list of all the IIoT-enabled products, devices, and sensors within the organization and rank them by which devices are secure, and which are not.

A similar tactic is to ask about security features, functions, and protocols when purchasing new devices. Security countermeasures are evolving just as rapidly as criminal activity.

Say ‘yes’ to updates.

Some of the best products on the market, including FieldServer, are designed for “set it and forget it” installation. But that doesn’t mean industrial organizations should sit back and take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.

On the contrary. Protocol gateways also require security measures or else they’re vulnerable to attack. So, if and when a device manufacturer offers firmware updates, patches, and other upgrades, organizations would be wise to take advantage of them.

Add another layer of security.

Wouldn’t it be great to buy the latest and greatest devices to replace products that are more than a year or two old? Of course, it would!

For most organizations, though, that’s not the most efficient nor cost-effective way to do business or ensure security.

So, until the product is at the end of its useful life and is ready to be replaced with something more advanced and secure, organizations should consider adding a passthrough device like a FieldServer gateway solution. Our rigorously tested and secure gateways are an affordable and portable way to boost security among connected devices.

In fact, one of the reasons we’re so adamant about the security of our FieldServer gateways is because we offer secure connection within systems, at the edge, and to the Cloud.

Other devices offer an “either/or” connection, forcing a choice between the network or the Cloud. FieldServer, on the other hand, offers “both/and” protocol translation and connectivity for secure, encrypted data exchange via ethernet, serial, and cellular.


Cyberthieves are continually finding new ways to threaten the security of industrial and automation systems. That means organizations need to become more proactive in finding ways to strengthen security.

If your organization would like to learn more about the new normal for IIoT security, let’s talk. In addition to offering ODVA certified gateways, our cybersecurity experts can share more about the latest technologies, best practices, and strategies to better detect and protect against attacks.

Big Challenges… Bigger Opportunities for Energy Efficiencies

This year marks the 90th annual International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition. Simply known as the AHR Expo, this is an annual event that contractors, engineers, OEMs, and other HVACR professionals look forward to with great anticipation.


Because #AHRExpo lives up to its claim: The event for everything new in HVACR.

Please join us in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, February 6-8 for the AHR Expo 2023 where you can find us in Building C, Level 1 – C5323.

In addition to demonstrating our Chillgard® 5000 Refrigerant Monitor, the next generation in refrigerant detection, we’ll also be featuring FieldServer and talking about how we can help you become more energy efficient.

Top HVAC Trends

For now, though, we want to give you some insight into the future of HVAC and energy efficiency. To help, we turned to AHR Expo’s recently published 2023 Trend Report. This report includes some industry-wide themes, as well as reflections from a few of AHR’s endorsing association leaders.

We wanted to offer our own insights into the industry, especially as it relates to automation, connectivity, and cybersecurity. Our goal here is to help HVAC industry professionals like you understand which trends matter most. More importantly, we want to help you seamlessly connect your existing systems with all the new products so you can forge confidently ahead toward a cleaner, more energy-efficient future.

Indoor Air Quality

As technology and tools continue to evolve, HVAC professionals must re-think their approach to everything from building automation to indoor air quality (IAQ). Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the spotlight’s been on IAQ. But even as IAQ quality goes up, energy costs must come down. Small, incremental changes are no longer enough. The HVAC industry must become even more proactive in its IAQ efforts, encouraging commercial building owners and managers to retrofit their facilities with the latest technologies to ensure a safer, more comfortable indoor environment.


  • Cloud-enabled HVAC systems
  • Smart sensors and detectors
  • Continuous, real-time monitoring and remote notifications


Digitization has been one of the most remarkable transformations HVAC—and the world—has seen. With it, however, comes an often talked about but little understood danger … cyberattacks. Threats are real and HVAC systems are especially vulnerable entry points for hackers. So, it’s imperative to ensure that you and your HVAC equipment and solutions vendors strengthen cybersecurity.


  • Third-party penetration and vulnerability testing
  • Attestation letters as evidence of security testing
  • Proof of industry certifications
  • Regularly scheduled security runs based on the latest trends in hacking and security


Decarbonization and electrification are among the hottest topics for 2023 and beyond. While this is undoubtedly good for the planet in the long term, in the short term, it’s sure to tax an already stressed power grid. That’s because more and more commercial building owners will be replacing their fossil fuel HVAC systems with new, energy-efficient heat pump technologies in an effort to limit their carbon footprint.


  • Is this heat pump/solution proprietary and will it limit interoperability?
  • Does this heat pump technology allow both monitoring and remote control of devices?
  • Can this new or retrofitted system receive data that we can use for better management of energy consumption?

Hint: A FieldServer gateway is the solution to any or all of these challenges.


Of course, there’s much more trending in HVAC right now, but we hope you’ll use these pre-show predictions as a starting point for your discussions with colleagues, presenters, and vendors at the AHR Expo.

Remember that the experts at Bacharach have a wide variety of HVAC tools to safeguard your people and places, while FieldServer can help you connect any of the exciting new products you’ll soon bring into your operations.

We’d be happy to provide more information, support, or a demonstration of any of our solutions, so feel free to connect with us at the show or email us anytime.

Industrial Fire and Gas Protection and Detection: 3 Questions to Help You Evaluate Your Performance

If you’re in the life and safety business, you’re also in the business of asking the hard questions so you can ensure the safety of your people, places, and high-value assets. Questions like, How can we be sure our detection devices are in full working order at all times?  What can we do to prevent false alarms? How can we be certain we can quickly deploy help in the event of a real emergency?

Perhaps the biggest question of all is this: Are we adequately protected? While we can’t answer these questions for you, as global safety leaders, we can empower you to figure it out for yourself, using these three questions.

Question 1: Do we have real-time visibility in our system, including device status?

When it comes to fire alarms and other emergencies, every second counts. A fire and gas detection system that’s connected to the building management system (BMS) or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) can help you better monitor inputs and outputs. The key to achieving that is to have a seamlessly connected system with help from an IIoT gateway. An IIoT gateway can enable easy, reliable linking of your fire and gas systems, including FACPs (Fire Alarm Control Panels) or FGFD (fixed gas and flame detection) systems.

Remember, the primary function of these systems is to allow you to know the status of a protected area at all times. So, full visibility via a connected system can help you know what’s going on both on-site and, in the field, —regardless of whether the location is manned or unmanned.

If you’re not 100% confident in the connectivity of your gas- and fire-related devices to your BMS or SCADA, you may want to consider FieldServer™ fire alarm panel gateways. Our products, which are quietly at work all around the world, support a wide array of protocols to ensure that all your life and safety devices, including disparate fire alarm panels, pull stations, heat, smoke, flame detectors, and pressure switches, are communicating with each other (and with you).

Question 2: Are we able to get the critical data we need as fast as possible?

If you don’t have a system that helps you minimize risk and reduce loss, then you’re not getting complete insight into what’s happening at any given time. You might also be dealing with false alarms, which wastes both time and manpower.

Instead, make sure that your system can quickly provide you with all the data points you need to make swift and sound decisions. Not only is automatically receiving key data points like alarms, troubles, supervisories, and battery fails convenient for you, but it can also help minimize safety risks and maximize operational efficiencies.

If you’re not staying informed of the most important things in real-time, perhaps it’s time to give FieldServer IIoT gateways and our 24/7 Cloud-based monitoring capabilities a closer look.

Question 3: Does our system enable real-time remote notifications?

Information is everything in a life and safety situation, so if your FACPs or FGFD systems are not pushing automatic notifications to you no matter where you are, then you have a big problem. Because without speed of relevant information, it’s more difficult to act quickly in the event of an emergency.

Here are some of the key capabilities to look for when it comes to remote connectivity:

  • Instant and secure remote access of devices
  • Secure data transfer from device to Cloud
  • Secure data downloads
  • Secure field device programming and troubleshooting
  • Direct and secure connection from any mobile device
  • Secondary notifications pushed directly to the mobile devices of key personnel

Primary and secondary remote notifications are especially crucial for sites that are unmanned or vacated during the off-hours, including evenings and weekends. One of our customers, a mass transit agency with its own on-site hydrogen production plant, needed a reliable system to detect hydrogen, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide, as well as notify them immediately of any leaks or issues. They turned to us specifically because our solution lets them monitor and communicate with their detection system, which is located separately from where most of their personnel is located. Now they get notified of the potential presence of hazardous or combustible gases, thanks to real-time text and email notifications sent directly to appropriate personnel.

FieldServer can help strengthen this part of your fire and gas detection system, allowing you to remotely monitor alarms, check the status of signals, and retrieve real-time information about system performance. Even better, FieldServer can enable this through your BMS or SCADA or via the Cloud for anytime, anywhere access.

How to Improve Your Fire and Gas Protection and Detection Performance

Not all life safety systems are created equally. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the latest technologies. Whether you have a single FACP, a chain of hundreds of panels, or a FGFD system, you take your fire and gas detection seriously. So do we.

In fact, we’re experts in fire and gas systems and IIoT solutions for life safety, which means we can help you figure out what the problem is, as well as guide you toward the right solution.

Need a roadmap to fast, cost-effective fire alarm-to-SCADA integration? Download our white paper today or contact us to learn more.

Why Your EtherNet/IP Gateway Should Be ODVA Certified

The year 2022 is winding down and along with it comes an avalanche of new product introductions, like Rockwell Automation’s GuardLink 2.0 with new EtherNet/IP interface. As the number one Ethernet Industrial Automation protocol in the world in terms of nodes shipped, it’s not surprising that the number of shipped nodes will continue to increase exponentially—especially in light of the predicted growth of industrial communication. In fact, a recent forecast report from says the industrial communication market will grow to $141.04 billion by the end of 2023.1

The opportunities for how EtherNet/IP can continue to expand and enhance industrial automation is great. With opportunities, however, come challenges. Among those challenges is finding a way to reliably connect devices, controllers, sensors, instruments, and systems within the same network.

That’s where the EtherNet/IP protocol can make a difference. Although EtherNet/IP is one of many well-known protocols it is, perhaps, the most ideal for manufacturing and process automation applications.

Here are just a few of the many advantages the EtherNet/IP protocol delivers:

  • Enables seamless control, configuration, and data collection from smart devices over a single network
  • Is compatible with standard internet protocols, such as HTTP and FTP, as well as OPC UA
  • Allows for higher speeds and more data transfer in less time
  • Is a certifiable standard

The FieldServer EtherNet/IP Driver

Our FieldServer gateway solutions include the EtherNet/IP driver, enabling seamless connectivity, as well as swift and secure transfer of data to and from devices.

For example, one of the largest global data centers in the world, Equinix, uses FieldServer gateways to connect Rockwell Drives (EtherNet/IP) to their Building Management System  (BACnet/IP) in order to control the fan speed for the HVAC system. This allows for optimization of temperatures within the data center to ensure adequate cooling while also conserving energy in what is traditionally considered an energy-intense environment.

This level of automation is only made possible because FieldServer with EtherNet/IP enables Equinix’s different systems and disparate devices to talk the same language.

What does EtherNet/IP have to do with ODVA certification?

The developmental roots of EtherNet/IP date back to the 1990s and a standards development group known as ControlNet International, Ltd.2 This group later teamed up with the Open DeviceNet Vendors Association (ODVA) and, together in 2001, they introduced EtherNet/IP to the world.

ODVA has since taken over management of the technology. As part of their ongoing commitment to advancing open, interoperable communication in industrial automation for Industry 4.0, ODVA offers conformance testing for vendors who build interoperable products—like MSA FieldServer.

Why does ODVA certification matter?

The only way to achieve true interoperability is to have disparate devices from a wide variety of manufacturers work together, both seamlessly and reliably. ODVA specifications are intended to help accomplish just that. These specifications are designed to help ensure that there is a common network interface for products, regardless of who the manufacturer is.

Here’s what ODVA has to say about why they employ such a rigorous testing methodology:

By subjecting all products to this requirement, industry has vendor-independent assurance that products using ODVA technologies comply with ODVA’s specifications and can interoperate in systems with products from multiple vendors. The result benefits users by providing them with more freedom to choose vendors and products that are the best fit for the application requirements.

As we said at the beginning of this article, the future of industrial automation is big and getting bigger. To stay competitive, industrial organizations are going to need all their disparate devices to work together. Fortunately, ODVA-certified products can help make it happen.

FieldServer Achieves ODVA Certification

That’s why we’re proud to announce that FieldServer passed the test, and our name has been added to ODVA’s list of conformant products.

We should mention that ODVA’s conformance testing process is objective, independent, and thorough, which means that FieldServer’s compliance with ODVA’s EtherNet/IP standards is verified and confirmed without bias.

Even more exciting is that, unlike many products, FieldServer achieved compliance on its first attempt.

Choosing an ODVA certified EtherNet/IP gateway like FieldServer can give you peace of mind as you move closer to Industry 4.0. If you’d like to know more about EtherNet/IP gateways or interoperability among a multi-vendor system, we can help. Contact us to schedule a call.

BMS Security: 3 Tips for OEMs to Better Protect Their Devices for Local and Remote Connections

Connected Building Management Systems (BMS) definitely make a difference in terms of increasing operational performance, reducing energy and maintenance costs, and improving building health and safety. None of this could happen if it weren’t for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like you who supply building owners and facilities managers with IIoT and Cloud-enabled devices that, together with IIoT gateways and/or the Cloud, help the BMS run more cost effectively and efficiently.

But do you ever feel like it’s nearly impossible to stay on top of emerging technology trends while also trying to introduce device updates and new products? Do you find yourself unable to keep up with device-related security concerns?

As an OEM that works hard at creating value-added products and services for your customers, no doubt it can be frustrating to have new, more sophisticated cybersecurity challenges continually thrown at you. So, it’s important to know what the current industry standards and best practices are—and to adhere to them.

The truth is that the onus is on OEMs to keep up with device security concerns. Spoiler alert: If you only focus on optimizing equipment without also focusing on the cybersecurity of your devices, you’re putting your customers at risk for cyberattacks through their BMS and SCADA.

The good news is that you can do something about it. Here are 3 tips to help you ensure that your smart, connected, and Cloud-enabled OEM devices and products are more secure against cyberattacks.

Prioritize security.

Connected and Cloud-enabled commercial and industrial equipment has become essential to seamless and automated operations. Couple that with the fact that cyber threats are growing in frequency and sophistication, and you have a recipe for a security disaster. OEM devices are not immune to attack. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Just do an online search of “BMS cyberattacks” and you’ll find headline after headline detailing the disastrous tales of cyberattacks that have happened to some of the most well-known organizations around the world; and all because hackers got in through an HVAC or other building management system.

The best time to think about the security stature of everything from boilers to elevators to fire alarm panels is at the start of a new product design or update so security can be baked into the device from the very beginning and to continue it all the way to the end-user application, employing the latest industry standards and best practices. Remember, you cannot adequately protect against hackers if you’re merely adding a one-off security layer on top of a product or solution after it’s been developed and released. It’s simply not enough.

Team up with security-minded partners.

Chances are, if you are a small- to medium-sized OEM, you likely do not have a team of IT professionals to help make your devices smarter, connected, and Cloud-enabled. In fact, with rising costs and pandemic-fueled supply chain shortages, it seems that OEMs of every size are operating with lean budgets and reduced staffing.

But that doesn’t negate the need for security expertise, including keeping up with IIoT cybersecurity standards and best practices. Of course, that doesn’t have to mean hiring an in-house team. On the contrary, that’s where the right security-focused technology solution providers and industry partners can help. The key is to pick a partner that is doing the heavy lifting by building their solutions from the ground up using best-practice security measures, including adhering to standards, and engaging in robust penetration testing.

Verify your partners’ security measures, too.

Like it or not, as the OEM you are responsible for making sure that any provider or partner solution you integrate into your devices (including Cloud and building automation gateways) are designed to be secure. You can’t tell by looking and you certainly shouldn’t believe the sales hype. Instead, do your due diligence. How? By asking for proof of industry certifications and third-party security testing. If your provider or partner is taking security seriously, you can bet they’ve submitted their products and solutions to third-party companies for rigorous security testing.

Here at MSA we are adamant about putting our FieldServer™ gateway and Cloud-based solutions to the test. MSA routinely conducts penetration testing on our IIoT gateways and Cloud solutions.

We challenge our third-party testers to relentlessly hack, crack, and compromise our devices in an attempt to invalidate them as being secure against cyberattack. If they find a vulnerability—and sometimes, they do—you can be sure that we take appropriate measures to secure our solutions.

Not only does our third-party partner test annually, but they also do monthly security runs based on the latest trends in hacking and security. Whether you’re using a FieldServer solution or something else, be sure that your partner has a partner that tirelessly tests and retests for cyberattack vulnerability.

Can Security Breaches Still Happen?

There is no such thing as a 100% fail-safe product. Regardless of how much security is built into a product or how much it is rigorously tested for vulnerabilities, hacks still happen. That’s because malicious attackers are continually finding new ways to penetrate organizations.

However, by baking security into your products and solutions from start-to-finish; by engaging experienced cybersecurity-informed partners; and by following the latest industry standards, you can ensure a better defense against cybercrime. To learn more, contact us today.

Author’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated and rewritten for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Industry 4.0: What It Means for Your BMS/SCADA

You’ve automated your operations. You’ve identified key data points. All the pieces and parts are in place to give you the insight you need into your building’s performance.

Then along comes Industry 4.0, the Industrial Metaverse.

Is this a fad or a next-generation innovation? Is Industry 4.0 something to “wait and see” or an “I need to get on board with this” phenomenon? More importantly, what does the Industrial Metaverse mean for your Building Management System (BMS) or SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)?

The Industry 4.0 bandwagon is here, so before you decide whether to jump on, let’s talk about what it is and how it can help you meet your most pressing challenges.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 (also known as the Industrial Metaverse) is an evolving concept and not something that is easily defined—yet. The best definition we’ve found, however, comes from the International Society of Automation’s publication arm,

“Industry 4.0 is not merely a matter of connecting machines and products through the Internet. It encompasses a wide range of advanced technologies, such as digital twins, artificial intelligence, high-speed wireless networks, deterministic wired networks, cloud and edge computing, and virtualization technologies like augmented reality.”1

In other words, Industry 4.0 is a digital transformation concept that enables the delivery of real-time insights, which can be used to improve products, processes, and production.

Central to Industry 4.0 is something we’ve all been immersed in for a while: data.

The fact is, this is a data-driven world—and that world includes building automation, industrial automation, life & safety, and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). The amount of data has grown beyond anything any of us have seen. And now, thanks to Industry 4.0, data’s usefulness to transform operations is growing, too.

Why the Industrial Metaverse Matters

Perhaps it’s difficult to imagine how this new concept could directly impact your operations. So, we’d like to offer an example to help illustrate Industry 4.0’s potential.

Introducing, the Smart Factory @ Wichita, a project that’s the brainchild of consulting services firm Deloitte and Wichita State University. According to Deloitte this is a project that demonstrates how advanced technologies and intelligent automation can help organizations overcome their biggest challenges, whatever they may be.

There’s a lot going on over at the Smart Factory @ Wichita. The real point is that this isn’t some futuristic, sci-fi notion. Rather, it exists to demonstrate what was once imagined has now become possible.

For you, that could mean leveraging Industry 4.0 to bring data-driven processes and automation to mission-critical operations. For us, it’s something we’ve been working toward for quite a while now.

In fact, our FieldServer and the MSA Grid were early players in Industry 4.0 solutions, so this is a great starting point for building managers and systems integrators who are relatively new to the Industrial Metaverse. Using our experience working with companies in energy metering and others in connected machine data-to-Cloud applications, MSA FieldServer can help you leverage Industry 4.0 initiatives so you can bring together the processes, people, and places that fuel your operation.

Information Sharing Is Key

Now the question becomes, “How can Industry 4.0 help transform buildings, operations, and systems to make them faster, safer, and more efficient?”

The answer: information sharing.

Industry 4.0 can enable more and better use of the data contained within organizational resources, such as smart devices and the BMS or SCADA. For example, here at MSA, we’ve recently introduced the ALTAIR io™ 4 gas detection wearable to gas detection customers who are looking to support a stronger, more proactive culture of safety and performance.

Among its many features are visual compliance indicators, device lock-out capabilities, device health statuses, digital tagging, and more. Plus, as an Industry 4.0-enabled solution, our ALTAIR io™ 4 customers can now live-monitor their workers across their organization’s entire footprint, as well as enable automatic updates, provide real-time situational awareness, automate inventory management, and much more.

While you may not need gas detection in your workplace, it’s likely that you do (or will) need to know the “who,” “what,” and “where” of other operational aspects. Industry 4.0 can make that happen.

And though Industry 4.0 is still an emerging concept, device manufacturers like Siemens and Rockwell Automation have already created Industry 4.0-enabled smart devices, which are specifically designed to collect the data points needed to make the best possible informed decisions. MSA FieldServer™ is participating in Industry 4.0, too, by ensuring that this all-important data gets delivered to the appropriate destination.

Should You Jump on the Industry 4.0 Bandwagon?

Only you can decide if Industry 4.0 is right for you. However, Industry 4.0 is proving to be the go-to innovation for enabling more meaningful data collection, dissemination, and analysis.

Industry 4.0 also supports the integration of physical and digital technologies/assets across an enterprise, including Cloud computing technologies and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices. This means you can have persistent, digital visibility into your physical operations, and tap into next-level insights—insights that can literally change the way you operate.

To learn more about using FieldServer in the application of Industry 4.0, reach out to us. For more information about the Industrial Metaverse, may we suggest the following resources:


[1] “Introduction: The Birth of Industry 4.0 and Smart Manufacturing.” Accessed 26 October 2022.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: 3 Things You Should Know

Hackers, attackers, and intruders. These are the people wreaking havoc on every industry and sector from data centers and energy plants to federal and military establishments to commercial building automation and manufacturing facilities.

Their goal? To intentionally cause harm to organizations and their customers by exploiting computer, Cloud, and software weaknesses so they steal data and maybe even extort money.

As shocking as it is to think about such malicious organizational devastation, it’s also a good reminder of just how important it is to be vigilant about cybersecurity. And since October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we thought it was also a good time to help system integrators and facility managers like you brush up on what you should know about IIoT security.

Devasting IIoT cyberattacks can and do happen.

At a predicted worldwide cost of $10.5 trillion by 2025, cybercrime is big business.1 And it’s getting bigger every year. Remember 10 years ago when the Target Corporation’s IT breach put 40 million cardholders at risk and cost a reported $300 million? Now, a decade after the fact, the Target breach remains one of the largest security breaches on record.

The potential to similarly disable organizations and facilities that adopt Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies is real, too. While the Target breach is considered an IT breach, there have been plenty of IIoT breaches that have been just as, if not more, destructive.

Take, for example, the 2022 Optus telecommunications breach in Australia that reportedly cost $1 million, and all because of unauthenticated APIs.2 Then there’s the 2021 Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack that caused the pipeline to stop production, and all because of a single compromised password.3

Hacking a data center or connected industrial environment not only has financial implications at the magnitude of the Target breach, but it can also lead to other, further-reaching consequences, such as shutdowns, shortages, destruction of high-value assets, and compromised health and safety for employees.

Unsecure IIoT is a problem that has led to new and increasing levels of disruption.

The advantages of IIoT software, hardware, and Cloud solutions includes their ability to streamline workflows, increase safety, and boost productivity, efficiency, and compliance. The drawback, however, is their potential susceptibility to cyberattacks.

Unlike IT systems that have evolved to become more secure over time, not all IIoT devices in 2022 are designed with security in mind. Worse, according to IBM, industrial control systems have seen a 50% increase in vulnerabilities related to IIoT devices, and manufacturing has now become the world’s most attacked industry.4

The reason? Attackers are looking to disrupt the global supply chain and can do so by attacking one of its most critical players: manufacturing.

The point is that hackers are looking for vulnerabilities. Which is why manufacturers, the energy sector, data centers, and others like them must strengthen security, and they must do it ASAP.

You don’t have to sacrifice the benefits of IIoT solutions to maintain security.

If you do any research or reading about IIoT hacks, you know that communication protocols are among the most vulnerable. Which is why we at MSA FieldServer® take cybersecurity precautions very seriously.

We’re about to go through our annual penetration testing with our provider, Breachlock. This in-depth manual penetration testing is in addition to monthly automated scans. Together, these tests have helped us identify our own product vulnerabilities so we can go back and fix them. We prioritize medium and above vulnerabilities over minor ones, but rest assured, we’re maintaining all MSA FieldServer gateways and Cloud-based solutions to the absolute latest standards.

In fact, since we last talked about how MSA FieldServer strengthened security, we’ve evolved our policies and adopted even more cybersecurity strategies—strategies that we hope will serve as a reminder for you, too.

Security Standards: Keep up with ever-changing security standards, and make sure that your device manufacturers are keeping up, as well. Here at FieldServer, we’re committed to the newest standards, including ISA/IEC 62443-4-1 and other cybersecurity benchmarks for building automation, power generation, oil & gas, and other similar industries. We’re also ISO/IEC 27001 accredited, which means we’ve demonstrated that our organization, including our people, processes, and products adhere to these best practice standards.

If you’re not sure if your provider has adopted the last standards, here’s an easy thing you can do: Ask. Ask every provider, because even something as seemingly innocuous as plugging a USB drive into a laptop can lead to the infusion of a bot. Remember, cybersecurity doesn’t start with IT; it starts at the design and engineering level. You have a right to know what security measures were taken with every product or device you connect to your system so ask your provider for proof.

Zero Trust: As an extension of the aforementioned security standards, it’s a good idea to implement a Zero Trust policy. That’s a policy that essentially means “trust nothing, verify everything.” The truth is, if you’re using third-party tools, there can be vulnerabilities and it’s up to you to be proactive in working to protect your organization against cyberattacks. (Side note: We do this at MSA FieldServer, too.)

Smart Devices: Inventory your IIoT devices so you know which are secure and which are not. Then work towards bringing all your devices into alignment with current security standards. That’s one of the many reasons we developed one of our more recently released products, the MSA FieldServer Dual Ethernet Port. As part of our ongoing work to help our customers achieve secure automation, we developed our two-ethernet port solution to provide updated protection that includes physical separation between the LAN and WAN, allowing routing connections only from specific subsets, and features updated security between the gateway and the browser.

Device Security: Because connected devices need to be secure, you’ll want to make sure you understand what kind of built-in security your devices have. What you’re looking for is a device that leverages the latest security measures, including robust user/password management, self-signed certificates, and compliance with current IIoT safety standards. Take, for example, our FieldServer solutions, featuring FieldSafe. FieldSafe is a security feature set that we add to every one of our gateways. FieldSafe takes a multilayered approach to security. That means FieldSafe secures your device, as well as your connections and data, yet still allows data to move securely across disparate subnets.

Security: Ensure that your Cloud-based solution provides secure, remote connectivity. Cloud-based solutions are incredibly efficient for automation. But not every Cloud-enabled gateway is as secure as ours. Our Cloud solution undergoes rigorous annual manual penetration testing by an independent third-party. Plus, we continually monitor compliance with the latest standards, such as ISO/ISE 27001.

Cybersecurity Strategy: Maintain a proactive cybersecurity strategy. Remember the Target breach we mentioned earlier? Those hackers gained access through the HVAC system. Keep in mind that this breach was 10 years ago, and hackers have become even more sophisticated. It’s more important than ever to have an up-to-date strategy and action plan to help minimize your exposure. It should include everything from ensuring multi-factor authentication to training employees on how to prevent phishing email attacks to when and how you’ll conduct your own penetration testing.


IIoT technology is changing fast, but so is the accompanying cybercrime. In addition to the helpful information and tips offered here, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to partner with a solutions provider that prioritizes cybersecurity and implements cybersecurity best practices.

So, reach out to us if you’d like some additional cybersecurity resources or if you have questions about the security of any of our gateway products or Cloud solution.

In the meantime, here’s to a safe and secure National Cybersecurity Awareness Month!


[1] “Cybercrime to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.” Accessed 6 October 2022.

[2] “How a Common API Vulnerability Might Have Cost Telco Optus $1 Million.” Accessed 6 October 2022.

[3] “One password allowed hackers to disrupt Colonial Pipeline, CEO tells senators.” Accessed 6 October 2022.

[4] “X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2022.” Accessed 7 October 2022.

2 Technology-based Tools Water/Wastewater Plants Need for Safety

If you work in the water/wastewater industry, we don’t have to tell you just how dangerous treatment plants can be for worker well-being. We also don’t have to explain that water/wastewater plants have an even greater potential for danger after hours and on weekends when no one is physically on site.

What you may not realize, though, is how advancements in safety technologies, namely IIoT or Industrial Internet of Things solutions, have made it easier and more economical to monitor and manage toxic gases and other critical factors and ensure safety.

Here are two specific technology-based tools that can make a real difference:

Protocol Transition

Nothing is more important than protecting water/wastewater facilities and workers against fire and explosion hazards. And the NFPA 820 Standard for Fire Protection in water/wastewater treatment and collection facilities is the de facto guide to help ensure protection.

Which is why Fixed Gas and Flame Detection or FGFD solutions are an essential part of that protection. Combine durable, dependable devices with smart technologies and water/wastewater treatment plants can enjoy operational autonomy and increase safety and efficiency.

To illustrate what we mean, let’s look at a real-world application featuring a customer of ours. Even though this particular customer is in a different industry, they had constructed a potentially dangerous hydrogen production plant. As such, they needed a way to monitor their operation for hazardous gas leaks, reliably and remotely. Moreover, they asked that the solution facilitate communicate with the rest of their system.

You can read their full story here, but the point of it is this:

They needed a plug-and-play solution that could connect to and integrate their MSA FGFD products, giving them full visibility and control of their FGFD detectors. The same can be done for water/wastewater treatment plants with help from MSA FieldServer gateways.

Remote Notifications

If you’ve got a high gas alarm in a water/wastewater treatment facility, you’ve got a problem. With an IIoT solution like the MSA FieldServer FGFD ProtoAir Gateway, you can get instant remote monitoring capabilities for all MSA FGFD devices, as well as those from other manufacturers.

Even better, when integrated with the MSA Grid, FieldServer enables Cloud-based alarm notifications for full transparency into the life safety system.

That means those who need to know what’s going will get an SMS or email notification whenever a trouble or alarm condition is triggered, providing the necessary insight to determine if it’s a false alarm or something else that needs immediate action.

FGFD for the Water/Wastewater Industry

We’ve written before about smarter wastewater treatment and how a Cloud-based solution can help ensure that water/wastewater facilities are monitored 24/7, with or without on-site workers. But one of the greatest enablers that Cloud technologies offer is the ability to enhance the value of data to help:

  • Reduce costs
  • Boost productivity
  • Improve uptime
  • Maximize efficiencies

As an example, FieldServer helped a California-based wastewater treatment plant monitor all their fire safety conditions at each of their multiple wastewater plants—and do so from a COMC or Central Operations Monitoring Center.

Not only did FieldServer help eliminate the plague of constant false alarms, it also saved our customer from having to respond to false alarms with expensive manpower dispatches and unnecessary shutdowns.

#WEFTEC: The Latest Advancements in Gas Detection

So, now that you’ve seen the benefits of being connected and protected, you may be wondering how you can take advantage of these technologies in your water/wastewater treatment facility.

Well, we’d be happy to show you!

Talk to one of our sales reps or, better yet, come see us at WEFTEC® 2022, October 10-12, 2022 in Orlando, FL. When you stop by booth #3929, you can see for yourself the latest advancements in gas detection for the water/wastewater industry, including:

We look forward to talking with you soon!