Cybersecurity Breaches Identified as Major Cause of Downtime

Cycles of marketing thought intrigue me. Suddenly PR people are flooding my email inbox with offers to interview CTOs of security companies who wish to comment on how cybersecurity breaches are a major cause of downtime. I chose this one to post for now partly because it’s a new company. I’m also intrigued by how the IT guy from Uber thinks he can disrupt industrial automation.

Oh, and yes, this is yet another survey done by a developer company. It’s the new way to generate media coverage when you don’t have a new product to release. And, yes, I’m an enabler.

In brief:

  • Copia Automation Finds $4.2M Per Hour Lost in Manufacturing from Cybersecurity Breaches and Coding Errors
  • Survey of 200 U.S. executives on the emergence of Industrial DevOps reveals half of all downtime is caused by programming mistakes

Another point. Copia is taking the IT idea of DevOps (see previous blog post) into industrial settings much as HighByte did with DataOps.

Copia Automation, empowering companies to gain end-to-end visibility and control of their operational technology, released its first annual State of Industrial DevOps Report today, the first survey of its kind on the application of information technology (IT) DevOps principles and practices to the industrial sector. The report reveals that industrial coding errors cause manufacturing shutdowns lasting 30 hours on average, costing $4.2M per hour and $126M per shutdown. Half of all downtime is caused by industrial code changes, code confusion, lack of visibility into industrial code, and issues with programmable logic controllers (PLCs). 

The survey highlights significant vulnerabilities in operational technology (OT) — the software and hardware that control industrial equipment. A possible cause for these is ad hoc fixes in industrial programming, with 79% of respondents saying they are commonplace. 

“The cost of downtime minimizes or eliminates the margin between profitability and failure for manufacturers,” said Copia Co-founder and CEO Adam Gluck. “With coding errors and cybersecurity breaches shown as significant causes for downtime, manufacturers need to take every technological measure to protect their bottom line and ensure continuous operations with enhanced productivity. Industrial DevOps delivers the technology and the process-change to do this.”

Aras Introduces New Supplier Collaboration Solutions

I just posted about collaboration within an organization. Many companies now send news about supplier collaboration and relations. Supply chain has never been my focus in writing. My early career involved procurement and supplier relationships. This is more than a passing interest. Aras invited me to their customer conference this spring. I’ve been impressed with many of its initiatives and technology.

Aras, a leader in product lifecycle management (PLM) and digital thread solutions, announced availability of its new Supplier Management Solutions for Aras Innovator. This suite of applications streamlines collaboration, assessment, and connectivity with suppliers and OEMs by providing secure, remote access to controlled subsets of digital thread and PLM information through configurable mobile-optimized web applications.

Product oriented organizations rely on suppliers and business partners as extensions of their operations. In recent years, the supply chain has experienced increasing pressure from strict compliance regulations, new sustainability initiatives, and an increased focus on transparency. For example, the Digital Product Passport initiative in the European Union strives to promote sustainability and sourcing transparency by mandating tracking and reporting guidelines for a range of industries starting in 2026. Many organizations struggle to meet these demands due to outdated systems, limited visibility into partner information, and inconsistent communication with supply chain partners.

Aras’ Supplier Management Solutions empower organizations to collaborate more effectively with suppliers and OEMs via a unified secured environment, allowing all users access to a single set of processes and data that is up to date.  By facilitating communication, data sharing, and connectivity across the full lifecycle of product development, organizations can achieve better visibility, data analytics, and efficiency. They can also reduce inventory and overhead costs, while improving quality control.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Controlled Access: Provides secure, remote access to relevant PLM information for suppliers and OEMs.  This reduces program delays and ensures timely enhanced communication and trust between all users.
  • Streamlined Communication: Facilitates bi-directional communication and threaded discussions between organizations and suppliers, resulting in quicker, better and transparent decision making. Inform suppliers of risks, changes to shipping addresses or company policies by sending Buyer Notices
  • Configurable Applications: Customized mobile-optimized web applications to meet specific business needs and support processes, improving flexibility, productivity and performance. 
  • Document Sharing: Allows sharing of relevant supplier documents such as CAD files and product specifications to all stakeholders trusting in one source of truth. This results in improved pricing, timing and quality from suppliers.
  • Platform Security and Compliance: Ensures a secure, traceable bi-directional exchange of information between supply chain partners. With automated processes for supplier quality and risk management, organizations can effectively address compliance issues and regulatory risks, maintaining consistent quality standards across the supply chain.
  • Measure Supplier Performance: Monitor supplier performance with supplier scorecards allowing Buyers to compare and make more informed sourcing decisions. Issue suppliers corrective action requests (SCARs) and track progress through collaborative workflows. 

Live Collaboration Environment to Analyze and Troubleshoot Industrial Operations 

Industrial collaboration tools flourish as manufacturers discover better tools and better people leadership. Further finally a press release promoting a product that includes generative AI without that as the headline! This looks interesting. Anyone out there using it? I’m curious about how it actually works.

Comprehensive collaboration workspace powered by dataops and a generative AI copilot that unify knowledge across assets, processes, and people 

SymphonyAI, a leader in predictive and generative enterprise AI SaaS, announced IRIS Workspace, a no-code application for industrial knowledge workers to engage in a live, collaboration environment with all relevant information for rapid problem-solving. 

IRIS Workspace empowers cross-functional teams to simultaneously engage with time-series, P&IDs (piping and instrument diagrams), documents, drawings, and images in a shared workspace for real-time problem solving using unified and contextualized data from IRIS Foundry, an AI powered, composable industrial dataops platform. Industrial users can collaborate within or across teams in a live environment, including adding notes and comments, notifying users, and drawing freehand or using the built-in annotation toolbar. Additionally, IRIS Workspace provides governance capabilities including version tracking and data and user audit. IRIS Workspace seamlessly integrates with the IRIS Copilot, introducing powerful generative and predictive AI into the collaboration workspace to provide search, summarization, insights, pattern recognition, and recommendations. 

Commenting on the launch, Sukant Acharya, Executive Vice President & Global Business Head – Sustainability, IoT and Industry NeXT, HCLTech, said, “We congratulate SymphonyAI on the launch of IRIS Workspace.” He further adds, “HCLTech and Symphony AI are committed to advancing transformation of the manufacturing and industrial sector powered by Gen AI. By combining HCLTech’s Industry NeXT solution and capability suite and SymphonyAI’s IRIS Foundry platform, the collaboration will empower enterprises with real-time data collaboration and accelerated innovation.” 

“With IRIS Foundry, we took bold strides to profoundly and meaningfully simplify our customers’ operational transformation with predictive and generative AI at scale,” said Prateek Kathpal, president of SymphonyAI’s industrial division. “IRIS Workspace delivers the power of a unified data platform to users’ fingertips for real-time, interactive collaboration that significantly increases productive teamwork, supports informed decision-making through data visualization, and captures breakthrough outcomes to rapidly remediate or even prevent future problems.” 

Industrial DevOps Platform Said to Boost Manufacturing Efficiency, Minimize Disruption 

This company intrigues me. Copia Automation. Its co-founder and CEO’s credentials include heading IT at Uber. They have taken the IT technology of DevOps and ported it to industrial use. HighByte performed a similar adaptation of DataOps to Industrial DataOps in 2016.

Maybe the time is ripe for better programming paradigms for industrial control? We’ll see. I hope so.

I thought Copia PR had queued me for an interview, but that evidently fell through. Here is the press release.

Copia Automation, empowering companies to gain continuous quality control and streamlined production, launched Copia Industrial DevOps Platform, a cloud-based Git solution that serves as an operational technology (OT) control center. The platform provides a clear view of all code within industrial operations to eliminate unexpected disruptions resulting from coding errors. 

Industrial operations gain a strategic advantage with continuous quality control, production optimization, and preemptive crisis management to minimize product recalls, downtime, and safety or cyber threats, saving millions of dollars in lost productivity. 

Amazon recently deployed Copia’s technology at its warehouses and expects an 80% reduction in unexpected downtime due to unapproved control changes — a significant increase in the scalability of code improvements — and a 25% improvement in high-severity issue resolution time. Copia has raised $30 million from investors since 2020, and has been adopted by more than 1,500 developers at 100 companies globally. 

“We’re going beyond increasing efficiency to fundamentally transform how the manufacturing industry operates where the application of code is a strategic asset to enhance efficiency and foster innovation,” said Copia CEO and Co-founder Adam Gluck. “By deploying the principles of Industrial DevOps, manufacturers can bring established IT practices into the world of operational technology to ensure their operations run smoothly with minimum downtime.”

Copia brings many of the concepts, tools, and best practices that helped DevOps revolutionize the IT industry (e.g. visibility, automation, validation, and quality control) to the operational technology industry. As coding at scale increases at industry sites, Copia offers enhanced code visibility to:

  • Enable greater collaboration among coders
  • Provide a one-stop platform for all files and upgrades
  • Boost efficiency by standardizing code and upgrades across multiple sites
  • Supply actionable visibility and control, and immediate disaster recovery

Research—PLM and Digital Thread Address Key Sustainability Challenges

  • “Spotlight on the Future” Report Highlights How PLM and Digital Thread Solutions Address Key Challenges with Sustainability Data Accuracy, Availability, and Analysis 
  • Aras Research Finds That Three Out of Four Companies Feel Pressured by Regulation, Customers, Investors, and Employees to Become More Sustainable 

Most news invading my email client these days involves companies sending out some questionnaires and compiling a report. This one from PLM and Digital Thread developer Aras called “Spotlight on the Future 2024,” focuses on sustainability.

The report highlights that three out of four companies say they feel pressured by customers, investors, and even their own workforce to operate more sustainably. The research also uncovered a potential reason why in-demand sustainability initiatives are not implemented sooner: a majority of companies reported that in order to do so, they must greatly improve the collection and processing of their data.

“Progress towards greater sustainability is key to continuing economic advancement,” said Roque Martin, CEO of Aras. Whether in the U.S., Europe, or Japan, 90% of companies who took our survey say that management has already recognized that sustainability is an important contributor to future business success.”  

The so-called three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle – already play a central role in the implementation of companies’ sustainability goals. 83% of the companies surveyed said that the lower consumption of raw materials and products is already a high priority. In addition, 70% of companies are already relying on the use of recycled machines, the conversion of existing systems, and the return of materials to the economic cycle. Interestingly, with 84% of companies reducing, 72% reusing, and 70% recycling, industrial companies in the United States are at the front of the pack when compared to other nations’ sustainability efforts. 

74% of respondents acknowledge that they are missing data (i.e. from suppliers); 72% of companies said they have poorly prepared data; and 67% admit that they simply lack the ability to properly manage their data. 

A throwaway economy is being replaced by a production model based on reuse. However, for the transition from linear resource processing to a circular economy to succeed, companies have to think about and plan their development and production processes differently. To fully take advantage of the green potential, companies must not only collect and analyze their data from the design and manufacturing phase, but also integrate the supply chain. 

Aras’ “Spotlight on the Future 2024” study, conducted in December 2023, surveyed 835 executives from Europe, the US, and Japan. Survey participants work in companies with a minimum turnover of 40 million euros in the automotive, aerospace & defense, mechanical engineering, medical technology, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food industries.

SCADA Is Changing the Game

Long-time acquaintance Travis Cox, Inductive Automation Chief Technology Evangelist, writes in Efficient Plant magazine (check it out—I had a very small part in that a long time ago and run by some friends) that SCADA is Changing the Game.

An engineer at a Phoenix Contact event approached me about 20 years ago. “You!” he exclaimed. “It’s all your fault. The boss reads your articles about remote monitoring and access to the control system. He now thinks that even when I’m on vacation at the beach, he should be able to reach me and have me fix a problem.”

We have come a long way since then.

The pandemic and government-mandated shutdowns had a significant impact on industrial organizations. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of staying connected to our industrial processes not only within the factory but remotely. It accelerated the demand for data and, for most organizations, was the catalyst for digital transformation. 

My conversation was a couple of years before I met Steve Hechtman, founder of Inductive Automation. A few years later:

The biggest question many organizations faced was whether their SCADA system was ready for transformation. The most obvious requirement was the ability to remotely see and control their process so operators and managers could stay connected from home. For some, this meant setting up VPNs, VNC servers, remote desktops, providing company laptops, purchasing additional SCADA client licenses, and installing modern SCADA systems.

I believe open standards foster innovation and better solutions for the user.

To meet the needs of today’s world, SCADA needs to be based on open standards, integrated with OT and IT, inherently secure, and deployed through modern practices. The days of siloed or closed systems are behind us, as they don’t work for today’s connected world.

Cox delineates the required capabilities of SCADA systems broken into five key areas.

  • Distributed architectures and edge technologies
  • Data modeling and UNS
  • Visualization and dashboards
  • Security
  • Leveraging the cloud.

His article details these five areas.

I am not going to copy the entire article. Check it out at Efficient Plant.

Cox concludes:

SCADA is not just SCADA anymore. The pandemic has forced a new way of thinking. Data is vital, and the true power of today’s SCADA is the ability to get access to data, move that data to the people who needs it, and be a conduit for getting insight into that data through analytics, dashboards, and machine learning. That’s why organizations everywhere are taking small steps to realize the benefits of these technologies today.

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