The Oji Group in Japan starts SDN operation in its four paper plants

In plants around the world, there is an increasing need to improve productivity, safety, and maintenance efficiency, and this is being achieved through the introduction of Industrial IoT (IIoT) technology. Networks help to create new value by connecting various types of devices, but it is essential to be able to flexibly change their configuration, quickly respond to surges in data volume, and ensure more secure operations. For the optimal implementation of IIoT technology, attention is now increasingly turning to the use of software-defined networking (SDN) technology in plant IT infrastructure. This also will help company IT departments manage the IT infrastructure at their plants in a more integrated manner.

From that viewpoint, it is noteworthy approach of Oji Holding Corporation (the Oji Group), the almost 140-years old and one of the leading company of pulp and paper industry, started operation of SDN at its four paper plants in Japan. This is first-ever plant-wide implementation in Japan of SDN, a software-based technology that enables the creation of virtual network environments, according to the news release published by Yokogawa Electric, which has recently completed the installation of the SDN solution to the Oji Group.

With conventional plant networks, network devices such as routers and firewalls, must be installed and configured for each individual application, location, and facility. The software-based SDN technology enables flexible implementation of virtual networks for each individual application, linking network devices using the same physical network. This facilitates the integrated management, implementation, and reconfiguration of networks. Also, this helps to reduce the required number of network devices and the amount of wiring that needs to be performed, saving both operating and management costs.

Furthermore, the visualization of network status leads to enhanced security.

Problems can be easily identified, and network operators can remotely shut down specific segments of the plant network in the event of an emergency.

For this project, according to Yokogawa, NEC Corporation’s Univerge PF series of controllers and switches was chosen as a proven SDN network device solution. While minimizing impact on plant operations is usually difficult when replacing IT infrastructure, Yokogawa was able to do this by assessing their IT infrastructure at each of Oji’s plants including exiting networks, and then designed and deployed its SDN technology solution based on this assessment.

Yokogawa is also providing on a trial basis a security management service that monitors the status and health of the networks throughout these plants. While enabling timely preventive measures that help to maintain the health of the networks in these plants, this service also ensures that prompt actions can be taken in the event of an emergency, according to Yokogawa.