Tech Tuesday: Quantitative LOPA with FT/ET

Joe Belland

Howdy, folks. As Jeremy has mentioned, this past Friday, April 4th, we hosted a webinar to demonstrate Isograph’s FaultTree+ tool. One of the topics we discussed was how you can use the Fault Tree and Event Tree features of the tool to perform a quantitative Layer Of Protection Analysis (LOPA). This post will serve as a little summary of that meeting, for anyone who was unable to attend.

The first stage of a LOPA might be done externally to a quantitative tool like Fault Tree. The first thing you’d want to do is identify hazards, determine an acceptable risk level for those hazards, and ask what you’re doing to mitigate them. This might have more in common with a Hazop study. Once you’ve identified your hazards and protection layers against those hazards, the next thing you might want to do is quantify it. How often will the hazard occur? How effectively will our layers of protection mitigate the risk of the hazards? Can we objectively rank these risks? This sounds like a job for Fault Tree and Event Tree analysis.

A Fault Tree can very easily be used to quantify a hazard. In fact, that’s the primary usage of the method. By coupling it with an Event Tree, we can find out how well that hazard is mitigated by protection systems. If you’re not familiar with it, Event Tree analysis is related to Fault Tree analysis. It uses a similar quantitative calculation. The difference is that, while Fault Trees examine the failure leading to a hazard, Event Trees examine the consequences following the hazard. Sometimes, when coupled together, they’re called “bowtie events”.

Yeah, it's cool. Bow ties are cool.

Continue reading Tech Tuesday: Quantitative LOPA with FT/ET

Performing a LOPA using FaultTree+

Jeremy Hynek

On Friday April 4th at 9am PST to learn more about applications of our FaultTree+ software. During this demonstration we will introduce our fault tree analysis software FaultTree+ and as an added bonus we will be discussing how to tie a fault tree to an event tree and perform a LOPA study. Layer of Protection Analysis, or LOPA, is a study developed to identify risk. By performing a LOPA on a system you can create a method for identify the actions available to mitigate the potential consequences of a particular risk. To do this we will start with likelihood of a particular hazard occurring, analyze the system using quantitative methods, and identify the mitigation measures against the hazards that have been identified.

Once the mitigating actions have been identified the probability of those hazards occurring can be reduced by implementing safeguards that bring the hazard into an acceptable level. An event tree is an excellent way to determine the consequences of successful, or the failure of, safeguards.

Basically, a LOPA is performed to identify the weakest points of a system and evaluate the safeguards in place to mitigate the consequences of that hazard.

To join this webinar: Register Here

Tech Tuesday: FlexNet Licensing, Part 3

Joe Belland

Howdy, folks. It’s about time we wrapped up our three part series on the FlexNet Publisher licensing system used by Isograph’s products. As we saw in part 1, the latest version of FlexNet allows for online activation and easy re-hosting of a license. In part 2, we looked at different methods of configuring a license server. Today, we’ll look at one of the most common errors encountered while configuring a FlexNet server license, and how to correct it.

So, you’ve just purchased or upgraded Isograph’s Availability Workbench, Reliability Workbench, or Hazop+ tools, and you’re ready to dive in and get to work. But then when you start the program, you receive an error:

No connection could be made to FlexNet license server and no valid features are defined in local trusted storage.

What does it mean? How do we work around it? Well, don’t fret; we can help.

Breaking down the error, we see two parts to it. The first “No connection could be made to the FlexNet license server” means that the program couldn’t talk to the license server. The second part “and no valid features are defined in local trusted storage.” means that the program couldn’t find a license on the local computer either. Combined, they mean the program can’t find a license and will run in demo mode—without the ability to save or print.

There are a few likely causes for this error:

  1. The client requires a newer version of FlexNet than what is running on the server.
  2. The server information is not entered correctly into the client.
  3. The FlexNet license server is not running, or is improperly configured.
  4. A firewall, or other internet security software, is blocking the client from connecting to the server.

The first one is usually the easiest to figure out. This occurs, for instance, if you were previously running AWB 2.0 on your client machine and you upgrade to AWB 2.1.1. You might get this error message. This is because AWB 2.1.1 requires newer versions of FlexNet than what was provided in the AWB 2.0 installation. As we saw in part 2, the server version of FlexNet must be greater than or equal to the client version. If you install an upgrade on the client only, without updating the server, you’ll probably get this error.

The second possible cause is sort of a dummy error, but still worth a check: if the server information is entered incorrectly into the client, you’ll probably get this error. If this is the problem, don’t feel bad; you’re not the first person to contact Isograph support due to fat-fingering an IP address.

Item 3 can be a little trickier to diagnose. The server administrator will usually need to get involved. Sometimes this one involves looking over log files to find any mention of problem. But sometimes this one has an easy-to-fix cause. If the installation was never completed on the server, then this error will occur. For instance, sometimes the server administrator will install the FlexNet activation utility, and activate a license, but then forget to take the follow-up step of configuring the license manager (LMTOOLS or LMADMIN, as we saw in part 2). If you see the “No connection” error, make sure that you’ve followed the directions outlined in the installation guide for configuring the license server manager.

Item 4—firewall issues—is the one we can provide the least help on. We can tell you if a firewall is blocking connection, but we can’t tell you how to reconfigure it so that it’s not. For that, you’d have to refer to your firewall hardware or software manual. The way we usually tell if a firewall is at fault is by using the TELNET command. This command, which is typed into a command prompt, will attempt to connect to a computer on a given port. If a firewall is blocking the connection, it gives an error indicating so. The format of the command is:

telnet <computer name or IP> <port>

So for example:

telnet 10.0.0.250 27000

…will try to connect to the server at IP address 10.0.0.250 on port 27000. When TELNET is run from the client to try to connect to the server, on the port used by the FlexNet manager, it will help you figure out if a firewall is blocking the connection.

telnet failed

One more thing you can keep in mind when diagnosing this error: does it occur on all client computers or on just one? This helps narrow down the cause. If it’s just one, then there’s likely an issue with that particular computer. Either there’s a version incompatibility or maybe the server information has been entered incorrectly into the software. If all users are experiencing the error, then the issue is most likely with the license server. Either it has been configured incorrectly or its firewall is not permitting access.

If you do encounter this error, don’t feel that you have to solve it on your own. Please contact Isograph technical support: support@isograph.com, +1 949 502 5749 (North America) or +44 1925 437 002 (rest of the world). We have a lot of experience working this one out and can help you find the problem and fix it.

Well, that just about wraps up everything you wanted to know about FlexNet licensing. Join us next time for a completely different topic!

EcoCar2…. what is it?

Jeremy Hynek

EcoCAR2_Logo_FinalOutlined

The EcoCar sounds very green but what is it? The EcoCar program is a 3 year student engineering program sponsored by the Department of Energy, General Motor and of course Isograph (among a few others).  The competition includes 15 North American Universities. Students take a Chevy Malibu and compete to improve environmental impacts without sacrificing safety, reliability, performance or accessibility to consumers.

Although the concept of giving a bunch of college kids a Malibu to take apart and rebuild seems  bit risky. The project has been a very beneficial endeavor for both the students and the sponsors. Most of Isograph’s support went to the University of Ohio. http://ecocar2.osu.edu/ , according to their website, they decided to use a Parallel-Series Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) architecture. The architecture includes an E85 engine, two Parker-Hannifin electric machines, an A123 battery pack, an automated manual transmission and a charging system. Which allows the Malibu to drive 50 miles before the gas engine turns on! Pretty amazing considering these kids would meet once a week and work on the car one day during the weekends.

For several years Isograph has supported students on the EcoCar. and EcoCar 2 programs. EcoCar3 is  taking applications so the competition should be back on shortly. The competition can be followed on the DOE website: http://www.ecocar2.org/

 

 

Tech Tuesday: FlexNet Licensing, Part 2

Joe Belland

Howdy, folks, and welcome back for another Tech Tuesday! Last week, we talked a little about FlexNet Publisher, the copy control method used in Isograph’s software. The discussion focused on basic license activation. Now, this makes sens for standalone, or node-locked, licenses. With this licensing type, the license is hosted and used on a single computer, such as a desktop computer. But for license servers, there’s another piece to the puzzle.

Let me back up a bit. Isograph’s software can be licensed as standalone or floating. Floating licensing allows you to share a limited number of licenses among many users. So, for instance, you could have two licenses for Reliability Workbench, but have five people who all have access to the software. This type of licensing can be more cost-effective; since licenses can be shared, the total number of licenses needed can be reduced. When one person isn’t using a license, someone else can.

 

When Availability Workbench is started on a client machine, this is the dialog that is displayed, allowing the user to select which modules to use.
When Availability Workbench is started on a client machine, this is the dialog that is displayed, allowing the user to select which modules to use. It also informs users how many licenses are available.

Now, in order to set this up, the floating license must be activated on a host computer, typically a network server. This computer will then become the license server, and automatically manage the licenses. Many companies have a FlexNet license server already configured, but even in these cases, there are a few things to keep in mind when configuring a license server for Isograph’s software.

Firstly, even if a FlexNet license server has already been installed and configured for other FlexNet-enabled products, you will still need to run the installer for the Isograph product, and choose to install the FlexNet license server components. For legacy products, such as AttackTree+, NAP, FaultTree+ 11, and AvSim+ 10, this is necessary in order to find out the composite host ID, which you’ll remember from last time is what the license certificate is based on. For newer products, such as Availability Workbench, Reliability Workbench 11, and Hazop+ 2013, it’s necessary to install the license activation utility, which is where you plug in the activation ID for online activation. For all products, installing the Isograph license server component is required to install the Isograph vendor daemon, which is one of the necessary components of FlexNet licensing.

The custom installation options for Availability Workbench 2.1. If using on a license server, you MUST choose to install the FlexNet License Server component to the local hard drive.
The custom installation options for Availability Workbench 2.1. If using on a license server, you MUST choose to install the FlexNet License Server component to the local hard drive.

The second thing you’ll need is the FlexNet license manager. Most server administrators who’ve worked with FlexNet before are familiar with LMTOOLS, the License Manager toolkit used to configure the licensing service. However, according to Flexera™, the company that develops FlexNet Publisher, LMTOOLS is at end-of-life. This means they’ve stopped future development on it. Their new, preferred tool for configuring a license server is called LMADMIN.

Isograph, going forward, is still supporting both LMTOOLS and LMADMIN. We recommend LMADMIN for users who are configuring a FlexNet license server for the first time. For any users still using LMTOOLS, however, I tend to recommend sticking with it, rather than upgrading. This is particularly the case since LMTOOLS and LMADMIN are incompatible with each other. A license server cannot run both at the same time. That means, if you want to upgrade to LMADMIN for one of your FlexNet-enabled products, all FlexNet-enabled products must be switched over to the new license manager.

The LMTOOLS service configuration page.
The LMTOOLS service configuration page.

My personal opinion is that LMADMIN is a much more feature-rich tool for configuring a license service. LMTOOLS was nice for its simplicity. No installation was required; you could simply drop the lmtools.exe onto your server, run it, and have the license service configured and running inside 30 seconds, if you knew what you were doing. LMADMIN requires a bit more setup; it has it’s own installation, and it acts like a web service: you access the LMADMIN interface through a web browser. This means there’s more overhead (and more opportunities for things to go wrong!) during setup, but once it’s going, it’s a very powerful utility for configuring license services. As I mentioned, it uses a web service interface, so you can remotely access it; you no longer have to edit license files to set things like what port numbers should be used; and the user interface provides much more information about the service, versions, and ports in use. I suppose from that, you can tell why I like it more. In my primary job providing technical support, when I’m assisting a user to configure a license server, it’s much easier for me to collect information and diagnose errors if the user is on LMADMIN.

The LMADMIN vendor daemon configuration page.
The LMADMIN vendor daemon configuration page.

Either way, both of these license manager packages are supported by Isograph and can be used to configure your floating licenses. Once the license server is configured, you’re free to install the Isograph software package on any client machines. The clients will connect to the server to access a license.

One last thing to keep in mind; all these components—the license manager utility, the license manager service (LMGRD), the vendor daemon, and the client software—all have their own files and versions. Flexera™ has defined a hierarchy for version numbers:

  • Version of LMTOOLS must be ≥
  • Version of LMADMIN/LMGRD, which must be ≥
  • Version of the Isograph.exe vendor daemon, which must be ≥
  • Version of FlexNet used by the client application, which must be ≥
  • Version of the activation utility.

Isograph’s latest products, Availability Workbench 2.1.1 and Reliability Workbench 11.1.1, both use version 11.11.1.1 of the FlexNet Publisher. What this means is that if you have an existing license server running, say, version 11.2 of LMTOOLS, you will need to upgrade the version of LMTOOLS on your license server in order to use the latest versions of those products. Isograph has download packages for version 11.11.1.1 of both LMADMIN and LMTOOLS available on our website. Please contact us to get either of these packages.

I realize I got a bit techy here, but that’s the name of the column. Join me next week when we conclude this series. I’ll talk a little bit about some of the more common issues that we’ve encountered while helping users with license servers.

Reliability 2.0 paper “Monte Carlo Simulation as an Aid to Optimization”

Jeremy Hynek

This spring there will be a lot of activity in Las Vegas. Some will be calculating their losses from March Madness, others will be finishing Spring Break with a yard of ale on the strip and David Wiseman and I will preparing to present our paper “Monte Carlo Simulation as an Aid to Optimization” at this years Reliability 2.0 conference. Reliability 2.0 Agenda April 7-11, 2014

Monte Carlo simulation techniques allow computer programs to emulate plant behavior and quickly assess the effects of alternative PM policies. In this presentation we will demonstrate how to optimize PM intervals. We will also show how simulators may be used to optimize spare part storage levels – a vital consideration when restocking is subject to long lead times. Such optimization techniques can help to reduce maintenance and spare part storage costs, while taking into account safety, operational and environmental risk.

WeibullCurve

 

Isograph will be supporting this years Reliability 2.0 event by presenting 2 papers and exhibiting at the conference.

Tech Tuesday: FlexNet Licensing, Part 1

Joe Belland

Howdy, folks! Welcome back to another Tech Tuesday. For our US clients, I hope you enjoyed your President’s Day weekend. I certainly did enjoy spending the day with my new daughter.

I’m back in the office and it’s business as usual, now, so I thought I’d take this time to write about the copy protection used by Isograph.

Isograph’s software uses FlexNet Publisher by Flexera Software. This is a very popular copy protection tool, used by many companies, such as Adobe, to maintain copy control. Most companies, it seems, already have a FlexNet license server set up. Some of our users also remember it when it was called FLEXlm or Flexible License Manager, and was developed by Macrovision. Either way, it’s a very commonly-used tool.

Isograph has used FlexNet licensing in our products since 2004, starting with our Network Availability Program (NAP) v1.0. In 2007, with the release of Availability Workbench 1.0, we switched to what is known as FlexNet trusted storage services. Now, the latest releases of Availability Workbench, Reliability Workbench, and Hazop+ all use trusted storage services via FlexNet 11.

See, the FlexNet that most people are used to uses what is known as certificate-based licensing. In this method—used by our legacy programs, such as NAP and AttackTree+, and older versions of Reliability Workbench, FaultTree+, and AvSim+—a license certificate, typically just a text file with a long code in it, is used to activate the software. This text file is created by Isograph based on some information from the computer that the user intended to have licensed. Many software vendors use the MAC address, or network address, but Isograph’s certificate licenses used the “composite host ID” which was based on several internal components of the computer, including the hard disk and network card. This way, the license file would only activate a single computer—the one it was created for. To activate the computer, the license file just had to be placed in the program’s directory.

A typical license file. This identifies the computer for which it was created (the "COMPOSITE=" number), the program it will activate ("FTP" = FaultTree+) the version (11.0) and the expiry date (16-Mar-2014).
A typical license file. This identifies the computer for which it was created (the “COMPOSITE=” number), the program it will activate (“FTP” = FaultTree+) the version (11.0) and the expiry date (16-Mar-2014).

The drawback to certificate-based licensing is that it’s difficult to move the license; it’s generated for a specific machine, so to move the software to another machine, you had to contact Isograph for another license. And because this could be abused, we typically asked for a written statement saying that you would delete your old license when you received the new one. We also ran into a few issues in some cases, where changing the computer’s components would result in the license no longer working. For instance, switching from a wireless to a wired network, or plugging a laptop into a docking station would fool the FlexNet service into thinking that it was now on a different computer, one that had not been licensed.

But as I mentioned, starting in 2007, we moved to FlexNet trusted storage licensing. In this method, rather than you giving us an identifying number from your computer, we simply give you a code called an activation ID. To activate your license, you simply copy and paste this code into the software, and it will connect to our license server over the internet and activate your license. Once this initial connection and activation is complete, no further contact with our servers is needed.

The license activation screen. Just plug in the activation ID we sent to you, press activate, and—Bob's your uncle—the software is licensed. Be sure to hang on to the activation ID, as you'll need it if you want to move the license to another computer.
The license activation screen. Just plug in the activation ID we sent to you, press activate, and—Bob’s your uncle—the software is licensed. Be sure to hang on to the activation ID, as you’ll need it if you want to move the license to another computer.

The advantages to this are many; you don’t need to wait on us to activate or move a license. If you decide you’d rather move the license to another computer, you can do it yourself very simply. It also works well with upgrades. Previously, if you needed an upgrade license, we would ask for written confirmation that you’d deleted your old licenses. Now, you can just return your licenses over the internet, and we’ll be able to see that you’ve done that. In fact, with the latest version of FlexNet publisher, upgrades can be done automatically. We’ll issue you an upgrade activation ID and when you activate it, your previous-version licenses will be automatically returned.

For users without an internet connection, which is common with servers or secure computers, trusted storage licenses can also be activated via request and response files. Basically, the same information that’s sent via a web connection can also be sent via email. You’ll enter the activation ID into the software, and generate a requestXML file, which you’ll email to us. We use this file to create a responseXML file which we send back to you. You’ll process this response file and the license is activated. Licenses can also be returned and re-hosted using this method.

The FlexNet Ops console. From here, we can create an activation ID for you, process a request file to generate a response file, and view the license activation history. We can only tell the date and time that a license was activated or returned, and if it was activated via the internet or request/response files. We can't see any information about the computer that activated it, such as IP address, host name, or your passwords.
The FlexNet Ops console. From here, we can create an activation ID for you, process a request file to generate a response file, and view the license activation history. We can only tell the date and time that a license was activated or returned, and if it was activated via the internet or request/response files. We can’t see any information about the computer that activated it, such as IP address, host name, or your passwords.

And for users with highly-secure computers, from which you can’t remove any files—this is common for top secret government or military contractors—we can still fall back on certificate-based licenses, where you’ll only need to send us the MAC address.

Next week, I’ll talk more about FlexNet license servers, the newest version of the FlexNet publisher server software, and the differences between LMTOOLS and LMADMIN for configuring the server.

FaultTree+ (IEC 61508) Training April 29th and 30th, 2014 Deerpark Texas

Jeremy Hynek

We are happy to announce that Dow Chemical will be hosting Isograph’s FaultTree+ IEC 61508 training again this year in Deerpark Texas near Houston on April 29th and 30th, 2014. Last year’s class sold out quickly so be sure to save a spot in this class. Depending on your industry there are several adaptations of the IEC 61508 which include: the ISO 26262 for automotive, the IEC 61511 for SIS in process safety, the IEC 61513 for Nuclear power, IEC 62279 for Rail Software as well as many others. Basically if you are calculating System Integrity Levels (SIL) or Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) we have you covered.

This two-day course will give users a brief overview of fault tree methodology, then focus on the many features in Reliability Workbench 11.1 designed to assist with safety instrumented system/safety instrumented function analysis according to IEC standard 61508.

For more information on our course schedule and course descriptions please refer to our website: Isograph FaultTree+ training .

 

Tech Tuesday:

Jeremy Hynek

Congratulations to our North American Technical Lead, Joe Belland, who is out on paternity leave for a couple weeks. If your curious about what Joe is up to we had him breakdown his week in the fault tree diagram below. Although Joe will be missed for the next few weeks its business as usual here at Isograph North America. Joe and our support team will still be responding to support questions via email support@isograph.com and Jeremy Hynek will be answering Joe’s phone 949 502 5749.

Joe wasn’t able to write his weekly column before his baby girl was born, but he did put together this Fault Tree explaining why he might be in and out of contact for the next few weeks.

A very serious and professional use of a $7000 software product.

 

FaultTree+ Friday

Jeremy Hynek

Today I would like to address one of the most commonly asked questions by new users of our FaultTree+ software, which is: Copy and Paste vs. Copy and Paste Special. When used correctly Copy and Paste and Copy and Paste Special can be a huge time saver. If used incorrectly this feature can unintentionally be introducing Common Cause Failures (CCF) which can kill the reliability of a system or create copies of existing events or gates, which were intended to be CCF, making your tree more reliable than it should be.

Copying and Pasting a gate or event will cause the same gate or event to appear in different parts of the tree. Pump1 will be our example, if we Copy and Paste Pump1 from gate GT1 and paste that pump under gate GT3. Pump1 would now be listed under 2 separate OR Gates.

As you can see in the example below the event named Pump1 has been Copied and Pasted under gate GT3. The event Pump1 has the exact same name in both events making Pump1 a CCF. Using Copy and Paste is representing the same event in two different branches of this fault tree.

FaultTree1

Copy and Paste Special on the other hand creates a copy of Pump1. This is not the same event but an identical event. As you will see below I have used Copy and Paste Special to add a copy of Pump1 under gate GT1 to gate GT2, the new identical pump is named Pump2 not to be confused with the event Pump1 under gate GT1 and GT3 . Pump2 is an identical in every way to Pump1 but is not the same pump. In this case Pump2 would not create a CCF. Please note that when using Paste Special the software has automatically renamed event Pump1 to Pump2. The new gate or event can use any naming convention you would like as long as it is not the same name as an existing event. When 2 gates or events have the exact same name the software recognizes those gates or events as the same gate or event.

Faulttree2