Git-based version control is the de facto standard used by software developers. Recently, Copia Automation introduced capabilities that enable industrial automation professionals to utilize Git more effectively when developing and maintaining PLC control programs.
For the first time, control engineers can track their code revisions, see the ladder logic or function block diagram code displayed outside the development tool, and even visualize the differences between versions. There are well-recognized business benefits that Copia/Git delivers to industrial automation.
- Improved Productivity and Collaboration: Copia/Git's distributed version control system allows multiple developers to work on a project simultaneously. This makes it easy for developers to share their work, provide feedback, and merge changes from other developers, improving collaboration and productivity.
- Enhanced Code Quality: Copia/Git's features, such as branching, merge tracking, and code review processes, make it easier to maintain high-quality code. Branches allow developers to work on new features or bug fixes in isolation, reducing the risk of breaking the main codebase. Code review processes simplify identifying and fixing issues before merging into the main codebase, improving code quality and reducing bugs.
- Better Disaster Recovery: Copia/Git allows you to store multiple versions of your code, making it easy to revert to a previous version in the case of a disaster or data loss. This makes Copia/Git a valuable tool for protecting critical code and ensuring the long-term viability of your projects.
Three added benefits
Before moving to Copia, most industrial automation teams used manual processes to manage and share files. This method is not only error-prone; it does little to promote teamwork. As companies embrace Git workflows, they quickly realize the above benefits but are often surprised by other efficiencies that arise from increased visibility and collaboration.
- New Engineers Are Onboarded Faster
With Copia’s ability to show PLC code directly in a web browser, checking a colleague's work is convenient and easy. New hires better understand the codebase, track changes, and contribute to the project without disrupting the work of other developers. Further, Senior Engineers can continuously review the new hire’s changes and comment directly on any concerns (rungs, blocks, tags, etc.). Skills increase as senior engineers share their knowledge.
A great case study highlighting this benefit can be found here: How Senior Engineers Reclaim up to 8 Hours/Week with Copia
- File Security is Improved
Many features in Copia improve file security:
- Administrators can set granular permissions which control user access, managing who can change (commit new versions), delete, merge, and revert code
- Copia securely stores your code on remote servers, which can be easily backed up and are protected with additional security measures such as encryption and 2FA (two-factor authentication)
- Copia/Git's cryptographic design uses hashes to identify each version of the code uniquely, making it difficult for unauthorized users to tamper with your code without being detected
- Finally, Copia’s DeviceLink™ automatically backs up control devices on the factory floor. Copia will detect and notify users of changes, ensuring that any unauthorized edits can be addressed
Copia takes security very seriously. Read about our SOC 2 compliance.
- IT and OT Become Aligned
Copia can be an effective tool in bridging the gap between IT and OT and facilitating the convergence of these two domains. In most companies, IT is familiar with Git workflows and utilizes Git to support other departments. When implementing Git, IT gains visibility into the critical data of OT and how those files are developed. Likewise, OT can benefit from IT’s expertise to set up streamlined processes.
Ultimately, IT and OT teams can collaborate on projects by tracking changes to code and configurations, making it easier to merge their work and resolve conflicts. This can lead to increased efficiency and reduced downtime as IT, and OT teams can more effectively coordinate their efforts. Additionally, Git's version control capabilities allow teams to maintain a clear history of changes to code and configurations, providing a valuable source of information for auditing and compliance purposes, which is important in many industries that are heavily regulated.
The best time to move to Git is now
Git is the ubiquitous standard for managing development work. Replacing the manual, error-prone file management processes in industrial automation with Git-based source control will certainly shorten timelines, promote higher-quality code, and increase machine uptime. However, in today’s business environment (where companies are struggling with labor shortages, remote teams, and high operation costs), there are other amazing benefits to be realized. Companies will leverage their collective expertise to better onboard new hires, increase security and enable greater team collaboration. With little disruption, and the ability to easily set up and use, there is no better time for industrial automation professionals to make the move to Git.