Research Reveals Defending Digital Supply Chains Remains a Business Challenge

Research conduced world-wide initiated by BlueVoyant, a cyber defense company, revealed that 98% of firms surveyed have been negatively impacted by a cybersecurity breach that occurred in their supply chain. This is up slightly from 97% of respondents last year. Digital supply chains are made of the external vendors and suppliers who have network access that could be compromised.

“The survey shows that supply chain cybersecurity risk has not decreased and, in fact, more enterprises than ever have reported being negatively impacted by a cybersecurity disturbance in their supply chain,” said Adam Bixler, BlueVoyant’s global head of supply chain defense. “The good news is that across industries and regions, organizations are making supply chain defense a priority, but these organizations need to better monitor suppliers and work with them to remediate issues to reduce their supply chain risk.”

  • Study finds 98% of surveyed enterprises say they have been negatively impacted by a cybersecurity breach in their supply chain, an increase from 2021.
  • 40% of respondents rely on the third-party vendor or supplier to ensure adequate security.
  • In 2021, 53% of companies said they audited or reported on supplier security more than twice per year; that number has improved to 67% in 2022. These numbers include enterprises monitoring in real time.
  • Budgets from supply chain defense are increasing with 84% of respondents saying their budget has increased in the past 12 months.
  • The top pain points reported are internal understanding across the enterprise that suppliers are part of their cybersecurity posture, meeting regulatory requirements, and working with suppliers to improve their security.
  • In manufacturing, 64% of respondents say that supply chain cyber risk is on their radar and 44% say they have established an integrated enterprise risk management program.

Schneider Electric to Invest $46 Million to Modernize Manufacturing Plants in Kentucky and Nebraska

For those US-based readers interested in investment in manufacturing here, this news provides a bit of good news. I’ve visited the Lexington plant discussed here. It is an impressive operation. Glad to see Schneider Electric putting some additional money there.

Schneider Electric announced it will invest about $46 million in its Lexington, KY and Lincoln, NE manufacturing plants to modernize their operations and increase circuit breaker and related electrical product output for its customers in the U.S. and Canada.

In addition, company officials said: 

  • Construction of its El Paso, TX manufacturing plant is progressing on schedule. The 160,000 square foot plant is projected to be operational by the end of 2022.
  • Expansion of Schneider’s Tlaxcala, MX operation continues as the company seeks to meet demand for the circuit breakers and electrical panel boards produced there. The 150,000 square foot operation will employ about 600 workers and will provide the company with the capability to manufacture and ship products in-region should the need arise.
  • Schneider will expand its manufacturing operation in Monterrey, MX with a 185,000 square foot manufacturing plant that will build and ship customized switchgear products used to transmit power most often in commercial buildings. The company expects to employ about 325 workers and begin shipping products before the end of 2023.  
  • The Lexington, KY plant is recognized by the World Economic Forum as both an Advanced Lighthouse and a Sustainability Lighthouse for its adoption and use of 4IR technologies and for achieving sustainability and productivity breakthroughs, respectively. Schneider Electric was ranked No. 2 in the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2022. It recently ranked eighth on the 2022 Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production list by Fortune magazine.  

Multiple Supply Chain Risks Accelerate Reshoring

International trade exists. It has existed for thousands of years. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tells the story of a boy sold to passing traders going from approximately modern Iran to Egypt. International trade in grain was an outcome of the story. That happened maybe 3,500 years ago. The benefits and exasperations of international trade continue unto this day. (Thinking of this week’s OPEC+ decision to reduce oil production to force up the price.)

I favor globalization in many guises. But…and it’s a big but as they say…there are national priorities. I had a customer in the defense industry back in the 90s. I wondered about outshoring back in those days. What if our nation’s defense was put at the mercy of a future enemy? Not to mention all those over-educated MBAs with their spreadsheets figuring it was cheaper, and hence more profitable, to send manufacturing work overseas.

Supply chain problems even before the pandemic were causing a rethinking of that latter strategy. The Reshoring Initiative has compiled some latest numbers.

In 2021, the private and federal push for domestic supply of essential goods propelled reshoring and foreign direct investment (FDI) job announcements to a record high. Projections from Reshoring Initiative 1H 2022 data show reshoring and FDI continuing these gains. The current 2022 projection of jobs announced is around 350,000 – another record and up from 260,000 in 2021. If the projection is achieved, 2022 will bring the total jobs announced since 2010 to over 1.6 million.

The Eclipse Foundation Releases 2022 IoT & Edge Developer Survey Results

The Eclipse Foundation announced results from its 2022 IoT & Edge Developer Survey administered by the Eclipse IoT Working Group, the Eclipse Edge Native Working Group, and the Eclipse Sparkplug Working Group. Now in its eighth year, the survey is the IoT & edge industry’s leading technical survey.

“IoT and edge computing are arguably the most important technologies today, particularly for industries like industrial automation, agriculture, and automotive,” said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. “The insights detailed in this survey report can help guide internal developer teams and technology decision-makers as they seek to bring the Industrial IoT to life.”

  • The online survey was conducted from April 1, 2022, to June 15, 2022, during which 910 global developers, committers, architects, and decision-makers from a broad set of industries and organizations participated.
  • Java, C, and C++ are the most widely used programming languages for constrained devices. Developers indicate that Java is the preferred language for IoT gateways and edge nodes.
  • MQTT continues to be the most widely used IIoT communication protocol, though there seems to be increased fragmentation. HTTP/HTTPS and REST show slight decreases in IIoT usage compared to 2021, while alternative communication protocols (TCP/IP, AMQP, in-house/proprietary) have seen noticeable growth. 
  • Agriculture (23%) has emerged as the leading industry for IIoT and edge computing technology, followed by industrial automation (22%), automotive (20%), and energy & smart cities (17%).
  • Concerns around security have nearly doubled in this year’s survey, making it one of the top 3 challenges developers face, along with connectivity, and data collection & analytics.
  • There is increased public cloud fragmentation, and the big three are being challenged. Despite continued dominance, Amazon AWS with 36% usage (-8% in 2022), Microsoft Azure with 18% (-11% in 2022), and Google Cloud Platform with 16% (-4% in 2022) have all lost ground against a growing competitive landscape.
  • Container images (49%) are the most frequently selected edge computing artifact.

Instrumentation Device Profile for OPC UA Field eXchange

Catching up on some older news. The history of the OPC Foundation has seen collaboration and reciprocal specs with just about any organization that came along. The benefit includes ability to use many other protocols with OPC UA. The drawback—OPC UA spec becomes more cumbersome. Several people have had this conversation with me over the past month.

At any rate, here is another OPC Foundation collaboration. This one involves the FieldComm Group. This work involves driving multi-vendor interoperability of instrumentation devices based on OPC UA and the extensions for the field level, named OPC UA FX (Field eXchange). 

The intent—ensure that the market will have only one single standard. The aim is to provide an interoperable interface between PLC / DCS and instrumentation devices, such as transmitters, instruments, and actuators.

A new OPC UA Instrumentation Working Group is being hosted by the OPC Foundation, under the leadership of the Field Level Communications (FLC) Initiative.

The working group will add to the UAFX base specifications the definition of interfaces and behaviors which are typical for instrumentation devices, including:

• commonly used interfaces and data types for the industries mentioned above including functional safety,

• diagnostic information specific to instrumentation devices,

• operation modes of instrumentation devices,

• state machines and timing models for instrumentation-specific functionality, where appropriate.

Festo Marks 50 Years in the U.S. with Major Expansions

I can’t remember the date of my first visit to a Festo facility in Germany. I do remember being impressed with what engineers can do with pneumatics—a technology that I mistakenly thought at the time was at a dead end. Far from it. And Festo keeps growing. Especially in the US. I’ve visited one campus in the US, since I used to live close to the Mason, Ohio area. This news emphasizes 50 years of growth in the US for Festo.

  • The Festo Mason, Ohio, Campus will be the site of a Global Production Center and expanded Technology Engineering Center. 
  • Festo U.S. celebrates its 50th anniversary year 
  • Announces expansion plans for its 47-acre campus in Mason, Ohio. A new production facility and the expanded research and development center will be dedicated to U.S.-centric automation components, systems, and solutions. Festo, a $3 billion family-owned company, is a global innovation leader in pneumatic and electric automation systems. 
  • The campus, 30 miles north of Cincinnati, will be the site of a new Festo Global Production Center (GPC), the designation for the company’s most advanced automated manufacturing facilities. The GPC will focus on flexible automation in a direct response to Festo customers who want custom solutions that serve to maximize performance and differentiate their machines and systems from the competition. 
  • The Mason campus is also the location of the newly expanded Festo Technology Engineering Center (TEC).
  • Festo Didactic North America recently relocated to the Mason facility. Festo Didactic supports educators, educational institutions, and industries to develop the workforce of today and tomorrow through both hands-on and digital learning experiences.

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