Chemical Processing Industry: An Interview with Patrick McConville, Business Development Manager at Asset Guardian Solutions Limited

Published by Suzanne Campbell on
The Safe operation of Industrial Automation and Control Systems (IACS).

Tuesday 20th December 2022, Edinburgh, Scotland – The adoption of advanced Industrial Automation and Control Systems (IACS), and Industry 4.0 technologies is driven by the desire for greater process efficiency, reliability, and flexibility. Plant design and operations are set to undergo a remarkable transformation.

However, the increased complexity and connectivity of industrial control systems have a downside. State-of-the-art chemical process plants will be more exposed to cyber threats and the number and severity of threats are growing year after year.

As a result, more regulations and guidelines are being introduced in some parts of the world, with the aim of providing greater resilience to the industry in the face of these challenges. Owners and operators are encouraged to adopt systems meeting international standards for managing the safety, integrity, and security of their IACS.


        1. What is your role within Asset Guardian Solutions Limited?

I’m a Business Development Manager and I’ve been with Asset Guardian Solutions Limited (AGSL) for four interesting and enjoyable years. One of my responsibilities is finding new customers and markets that can benefit from AGSL’s experience and expertise.

        2. What is your experience within the Chemical Processing Industry?

I spent the first 11 years of my career in the industry, working for a well-known manufacturer of corrosion-resistant process flow control equipment. I loved the challenge of solving problems for my customers, reducing costs, and adding value to their manufacturing processes.

       3. What are the most significant challenges facing the industry today?

I think the answer to this question depends on where your process plants are located. The energy crisis across Europe is causing the industry tremendous problems. We all must hope that there will be a return to something resembling ‘normal’ soon. The chemical process industry is a cornerstone of European economies and has a bright future.

The adoption of new technologies designed for Industry 4.0 applications will be a part of this future, but this comes with the challenge of ensuring the security of systems and the integrity of data.  The regulatory landscape is changing as a result of several high-profile cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure. The chemical process industry must adapt to growing cyber threats by adopting practises and systems that can help to ensure the safe operation of process plants. Regulatory bodies will require owners and operators to demonstrate compliance with the engineering Standards for Functional Safety and Cyber Security.

It’s unfortunate, yet inevitable that the industry will have to adapt to combat these threats. As connectivity and the centralisation of data management increases with the progression of Industry 4.0, it is inevitable that industrial control systems will become more vulnerable, and this situation needs to be addressed.

      4. What feedback do you typically get from customers?

AGSL works closely with customers across several industry sectors including, oil & gas, nuclear power generation, conventional generation, the chemical process industry, and pharmaceuticals, etc.

We receive feedback that Asset Guardian is intuitive and easy to use and that’s always good to know, but a major advantage we often hear is that our customers now have a tool that gives them the ability to talk to suppliers and service providers from an advantageous position about inventory management and managing lifetime costs. An Asset Guardian system has the potential to reduce costs throughout the operational life of their plants.

Often their adoption of the Asset Guardian software is driven by the need to comply with legislation, industry standards, or best practice. Or they want to manage cyber security or obsolescence issues.

      5. How can Asset Guardian help solve the challenges faced in the Chemical Processing Industry?

In common with all industries that are reliant on complex automation and industrial control systems, the chemical process industries face the challenge of ensuring the safety and integrity of these systems, while the threat level and frequency of cyber-attacks, on OT systems, are increasing.

Users of our software benefit from the inventory and configuration data contained within their Asset Guardian system in a number of ways, but primarily for the management of functional safety, cyber security, obsolescence, configuration change management, and compliance issues.

Asset Guardian acts as a repository for software backups and configuration data which can facilitate the rapid recovery of a process plant in the event of a cyber-attack such as ransomware or other malware attacks targeting SCADA systems and PLCs.

      6. Do you have any advice for decision-makers in the Chemical Processing Industries who are responsible for managing the integrity of their industrial control systems?

When you are just beginning to address these issues, it can seem like a very daunting task. Where do we start?  Do we have the resources and skill sets required to tackle these issues? What tasks should we prioritise? What will it cost?

My advice would be to follow the requirements and guidelines of the relevant industry standards but look further than just the soft benefits of complying with the Standards for justification of your plans. When our customers look at the financial benefits, the cost savings are usually very significant.

For more information, please contact us today.


Written by Suzanne Campbell. Suzanne is the Marketing Coordinator for Asset Guardian Solutions Ltd. Suzanne is responsible for developing and executing campaigns, creating and implementing content, managing website, traffic and social engagement and much more.

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