Astec achieves ISO 27001:2013 certification

Astec have successfully completed certification to ISO 27001:2013, demonstrating our commitment to best-practice information security processes. As the risk of cyber attacks increase for ourselves and our customers, having an information security management system certified and externally audited to ISO 27001:2013 is paramount to mitigate the threat. As the level of integration between systems and equipment in the IT and OT space accelerates to drive digital transformation, being able to implement best practices in security and information management is extremely important for our customers.

Managing director Andy Tripp commented, “Achieving ISO 27001:2103 certification underlines the robustness of our information security management, adding a level of compliance, process and procedure which demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibilities with our data and systems and those of our customers. I’m extremely proud of the hard work of the team in achieving this accreditation.”

Established by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO 27001:2013 specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an information security management system within the context of the organisation.

Blowdown of Rugeley Power Station Cooling Towers

On Sunday 6th June 2021, the view from our Rugeley headquarters window changed forever as the 4 cooling towers at Rugeley B Power Station were demolished. A permanent feature of the Rugeley landscape for over 50 years, they were reduced to rubble in a few seconds and will eventually make way for homes, a school, employment space and a country park along the river Trent.

You can read more about the development plans for the former Power Station site here.

Remote monitoring of critical IT/OT systems and equipment

Critical IT and OT assets are at the heart of every manufacturing operation. In the IT space, servers are responsible for hosting every system and application required to remain operational. ERP systems, MES, databases, CRM, scheduling and warehouse management are all mission critical systems found in almost every manufacturing facility across the land.

Add to this the plethora of OT equipment and before you know it you have a fairly large list of critical assets, any one of which could fail and disrupt operations. OT equipment by its nature and heritage is not as open as modern IT systems and is generally not monitored as readily as the more open and ubiquitous IT equipment.

Some of the equipment can be over 20 years old and locked away in control cabinets in areas of a facility that may be hazardous, inaccessible or dirty. Performing routine walk around checks may require a technician to put on PPE and open panels which have exposed electrical components. And in the majority of cases, a visual inspection of a PLC for example may not provide much evidence of an issue.

It’s easy to understand why it’s essential these assets, systems and applications are able to perform continuously and why any degradation in performance or downtime of any one can have such a detrimental effect on business performance.

Having access to the right resources when things go wrong can mean the difference between a rapid response with insight to overcome the issue with no significant downtime, or a delayed response with lengthy investigation and troubleshooting while your production lines and team that run them wait for a resolution.

Prior warning of an issue before it escalates is even better, and imagine how good it would be if the first you knew of a problem was when you were informed a problem had been discovered and corrective action taken to avoid any business interruption.

That’s exactly what Astec’s Service Operations Centre offers. Continuous monitoring and proactive health checks for all your critical IT and OT assets. Our system works like a 24 hour guardian, constantly looking for warning signs that something isn’t quite right and alerting our engineers to an issue or potential issue.

Service Operations Centre is different to any other remote monitoring tool available because it monitors your critical OT assets as well as your IT assets. Often overlooked by standard IT monitoring tools, OT equipment failures can be difficult to isolate down to the correct component and diagnosing the problem can be time consuming and labour intensive.

Talk to Astec today about how our solutions, including Service Operations Centre, can help reduce unplanned downtime, increase productivity and boost profitability for your manufacturing business. Call us on +44 1543 888134 or email

Infinitely scalable, Service Operations Centre has tiered pricing to fit any budget and because it’s a fully managed service you can be certain someone is continually monitoring your systems, ready to respond when necessary.

What an OT support and maintenance contract should include

This is the second in a series of articles about the importance of Support and Maintenance contracts for your manufacturing OT Systems. In the first article, Chris Barlow, Technical Director at manufacturing software specialist Astec IT Solutions explained why it was important to have a Support and Maintenance Contract. He now moves on to discuss the next phase; revealing what that contract should include.

If you were going to undertake any kind of project, whether at home or at work, you’d want to know a few things beforehand. Other than price, you’d probably want to know exactly what service you could expect for your investment. For example, what the service includes, what hours are included, what the Service Level Agreement (SLA) is, what are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and whether or not there is there a 24/7 helpdesk, etc.

It is always important that these agreements are set out right from the start. We’ve probably all read a horror story about business technology, where large scale system implementations have overrun, or basic deployment standards have not been met. More often than not, these events have happened because of a failure to put an adequate contract in place from the beginning: there have been no SLAs in place and KPIs have not been determined. Therefore, projects run wayward and basic demands are not met.

At Astec, we always make sure these considerations and agreements have been set out at the very start of every project. We offer several flexible support plans which provide expert technical support and ongoing system maintenance. Each of these support plans has clear SLAs, so you know exactly the service you can expect from each of the plans.

From our experience, here is some of the detail you should be looking for when it comes to a support contract:

Service Level

Does your support plan provide an appropriate service window, which meets your requirements? If your operations run 24/7 there is not much point in having a helpdesk which closes at 5pm. Conversely, if you only need support between 08:30 and 17:00, why pay for more?

Response Time

Is it clear how quickly your support provider will respond to a request for assistance? What are the different levels of support included in your contract and what are the response times for each of the levels you have in your contract? A good support provider will always be clear about these, because it is in everyone’s interest.

Inclusive Monthly Hours

What are the minimum and maximum hours included in your support contract? This is important, because if you haven’t got the right level of cover and you move into ad hoc hours, your support bill will be quite expensive. Plus, by having a sufficient level of minimum hours, you can ensure that all your preventative maintenance is taken care of too. Thus, you will have minimised downtime due to unplanned stoppages as a result of OT systems failure.

Support Channels

This can really be where a good provider can make a difference. How do you raise a support case and how convenient and fast is the process Should you use email, web or the telephone? Does your plan include service visits? If so, how many? Is remote access available? What about remote monitoring? Finally, if the worst happened and you suffered a critical systems failure, is there an emergency support button you can hit from anywhere?

As you can see, Support and Maintenance Contracts are not all standardised, so it is important to examine the detail. At Astec, we’ve tried to make this simple for you and will work with you to agree service levels and KPIs upfront to ensure you always receive the service that your business needs.

Visit our website to learn more about our range of flexible support plans which provide expert technical support and ongoing system maintenance.

Supercharge Remote Support with FREE AR-Enabled Remote Assistance

As we all come to terms with the unprecedented challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting to a new way of working remotely as effectively as possible can be particularly challenging.

To help our customers stay safe and connected during this challenging time, Astec has partnered with PTC to offer free access to Vuforia Chalk, a collaborative remote assistance tool, for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Vuforia Chalk is a remote assistance product that leverages Augmented Reality (AR) to enable off-site and on-site employees to collaborate in the operation, maintenance and repair of all kinds of products and processes. It’s like a video call with Augmented Reality superpowers for industrial settings and is easy to set up and use on existing devices.

Please feel free to share this information with others within your company that may benefit from the use of Vuforia Chalk.

This is a genuine offer of support from Astec in these difficult times. A full version of Chalk is available with free access, not just a trial version and there are no automatic conversions or billing.

Contact us for further information or if you’d just like to get started, click here.