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.

300,000 Tons in Carbon Emissions to be Saved by Autonomous Oil and Gas Operations

Taking environmental issues and carbon reduction out of the political arena and placing among those who can actually do something promotes good stewardship—and good business. Check out The Carbon Almanac (click the photo on the web page). This book contains a wealth of facts and action items for us all.

The major automation technology providers have invented and unleashed many ways customers can reduce carbon footprint. This research from ABB shows how offshore companies can reduce global carbon emissions by 300,000 tons per site per year, the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.

  • Moving to autonomous operations increases reliability and predictability of energy supply
  • Annual savings of up to $30 million can be achieved  

ABB has published another of its ‘Energy Transition Equation’ reports that shows how industrial customers can reduce carbon emissions and manage the energy transition for a more sustainable future.

Based on nine months of research and modelling, the report highlights how early adoption and integration of automation, digitalization, and electrification technologies to enable autonomous operations can deliver savings of over 300,000 tons of carbon emissions per annum for offshore sites (approximately 25 percent reduction). This is the equivalent of removing 150,000 combustion cars from the road and is the same volume of CO2 responsible for five million tons of glacier mass lost each year.

The report also demonstrates how companies can realize production efficiencies of up to $30 million in annual savings, while delivering net revenue increases of up to $120,000, thanks to autonomous operations.

A key part of this is redeploying companies’ offshore workforces, moving them from hazardous roles into new ones onshore. In doing so, employers can offer safer working environments, a better work-life balance and fill industry talents gaps by reskilling employees to support a data-led approach to oil and gas exploration and production.

In 2021, ABB reduced its own CO2 emissions by 39 percent as part of its Sustainability Strategy 2030 and expects to be fully carbon neutral by decade’s end. The strategy details how ABB will support its global customers in reducing their annual CO2 emissions by at least 100 megatons by 2030, the equivalent of removing 30 million combustion cars from the roads.

The report’s economic modelling was undertaken by independent economist Steve Lucas of Developmental Economics, in conjunction with ABB Energy Industries and supported with desktop research of academic and industry sources. ABB will publish reports focused on the power and chemicals markets in 2023.

Notes to editors

These figures are based upon hypothetical scenarios of a 1 x 150000 barrel a day (oil) FPSO and a 1 x 150000 barrel (oil) Fixed Platform. Both assume an operational life cycle of 15 years with a 5-year development phase. Some have been rounded out for the purpose of the press release – exact calculations and figures can be found in the report or can be downloaded here.

Festo Didactic Takes Its Apprenticeship Program to the Next Level

Festo has made significant investments in education and training over the past few years in Mason, Ohio just outside of Cincinnati. This news notes the next step.

Festo Didactic Learning Systems North America and its partners announced plans for the Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program (MAP) at its Regional Service Center (RSC) in Mason with industry, education, and government coming together.

And a word from a graduate.

“Festo’s side of the apprenticeship provided an affordable, unique, hands-on approach to learning mechatronics. This program taught me the very basics of electrical power up to advanced industrial troubleshooting,” said former Festo Didactic Apprentice, Kenneth Bibb. “I was able to gain more learning and experience with Festo than I would have in a traditional four-year university. Festo has set my life up perfectly by providing the skills I needed through the apprenticeship to begin a successful Mechatronics Engineering career.”

The award-winning mechatronics program has been a growing collaboration among Art Metal Group, Clippard Instruments, E-Beam, MQ Automation, Nestlé, Festo Didactic, and others. At its core, MAP supports manufacturers locally and nationally in training and retaining skilled workers. Heading into its sixth year, MAP will begin accepting apprenticeships on a rolling admission basis instead of a semester schedule. The program will consist of 57 weeks of training instead of five semesters. This transition will allow for more apprentices to enroll faster, train faster, and get to work faster.

My grandfather launched a solid career in manufacturing through an apprenticeship program in the early 1900s. Companies stopped doing that for a long time. I’m happy to see a rebirth.

Nationwide, apprenticeship continues to experience strong growth. On September 1, 2022 the White House launched the Apprenticeship Ambassador Initiative—a national network of more than 200 employers and other organizations who signed on to create almost 500 hundred new registered apprenticeship programs. Through the new federal initiative, companies agreed to build new programs across a wide range of industries and to hire 10,000 new apprentices in the coming year. The Department of Labor also announced plans to invest over $330 million through grants to states, employers, labor organizations, and workforce intermediaries to expand and diversify Registered Apprenticeships.

According to apprenticeship.gov, managed by the Department of Labor (DoL), 93% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship retain employment, with an average annual salary of $77,000.

Bosch Rexroth Expands ctrlX Ecosystem

  • Salesforce supports digital service concepts 
  • SICK contributes sensor data integration and sensor apps 
  • Partner world ctrlX World now includes over 60 third-party providers 

Ecosystems and partnerships are the current rage. The idea has been building for several years. I’ve seen them with software platforms and also with some hardware. Success with the execution has been spotty. It is a good way to spread the word about a new platform. Bosch Rexroth has been busy bringing partners to augment its new ctrlX control platform. They have accumulated an eclectic mix of partners. Recently Salesforce and Sick have joined up.

With ctrlX AUTOMATION, Bosch Rexroth has created a world of automation in which the specialist knowledge of companies from various domains is combined for the purpose of co-creation. The partner network, ctrlX World, is expanding the automation toolkit –adding hardware and new apps. More than 60 third-party providers have already joined the partner world – most recently Salesforce and SICK.

Why Salesforce?

“Our joint solutions with Bosch Rexroth and other ctrlX World partners enable data-based decision making and business automation in mechanical engineering and other industries. For example, manufacturers can quickly visualize and analyze all of the data coming from ctrlX AUTOMATION. Another use case is the preventive maintenance of machines or the automation of spare parts orders. Our Manufacturing Cloud enables business and service automation based on business intelligence. ctrlX AUTOMATION provides the important data for this,” said Juergen Brixel, Regional Vice President Industry Solutions & Strategy at Salesforce.

Sick is a leading sensor company. Here is an explanation of why it joined the ecosystem.

“By integrating our solutions into the ctrlX AUTOMATION partner world, we can provide sensor and application data in the easiest way possible. We do this via the ctrlX Data Layer. It offers secure, managed access to the data. Machine manufacturers for example can easily benefit from valuable data and use these data in order to meet IoT and Industry 4.0 requirements,” said Walter Reithofer, Senior Vice President R&D at SICK.

And some other partners.

Other partners that have joined the ctrlX World in recent months include: 36ZERO Vision by Deutschdata Karamat und Ziesche GmbH, Dataprophet, FANUC Deutschland GmbH, Hailo Technologies Ltd., i-flow GmbH, KEBA Industrial Automation GmbH, SIMON Modellierungen GmbH, Timecho Europe GmbH, WEPALL ROBOT EASY TOOLS, S.L. and Balluff GmbH.

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.  

Skills Gap Threatens to Stall Industrial Digital Transformation

This one shouldn’t surprise anyone. Hitachi Vantara commissioned a study by 451 Research to determine if there is a skills shortage that could inhibit industrial digital transformation.

Competing priorities and skills shortages in IoT, AI/ML data science and robotics undermine potential progress in IT/OT convergence and security.

Research found a lack of digital skills is jeopardizing industries’ digital transformation initiatives. The report “Industry 4.0: Maturity of Adoption and Its Impact on Sustainability and ESG”1 surveyed more than 600 IT and OT leaders engaged in Industry 4.0 initiatives across the manufacturing, transportation, and energy and utilities sectors. 

  • While 100% of companies surveyed are engaging in or planning digital transformation projects for their operations or supply chains, more than half of companies said they lacked sufficient skills in key areas. 
  • The most critical gaps cited are in data science (42%) defined as artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics; IoT deployment and development (48%), or robotics deployment and operations (60%). 
  • Given the technology skills gap, at least 37% of respondents indicated that they had no plans to implement IoT-led initiatives. 
  • Once viewed as a potential barrier to Industry 4.0 and digital transformation initiatives, IT/OT convergence is happening with 95% of respondents saying the two departments collaborate adequately or better for IoT projects.